travel & outdoors: Weekend work

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Sponge the leaves of conservatory-grown camellias to clean off sooty mould. Soft soap is best for this job. Remove old wood and overcrowded shoots from indoor abutilons. Start canna roots into growth in boxes of moist compost. They give a magnificently tropical air to a mixed border, but, like dahlias, can't go out until all danger of frost has passed.

If you have a new lawn in mind, resist the temptation to skimp on preparation. Rake soil several times in different directions to get a level surface. Get rid of all stones and shuffle over the soil in your boots to tread down the surface. Choose a seed mixture to suit the site.

Think about stakes now.. Letting nature take its course is all very well, but nature did not invent top-heavy delphiniums. Single bamboo canes are fine for these cathedral spires. Use twiggy pea sticks for plump plants such as Michaelmas daisies, and tall half-moon stakes for shrub roses such as "Ispahan".

Continue to sow seeds of annuals to flower in the garden this summer. "Full Sun" (Suttons, 95p) is a classic huge yellow sunflower with heads 12in across. "Velvet Queen" (Thompson & Morgan, pounds 1.59) has flowers of a sumptuous mahogany.

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