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A CABBAGE PATCH IS A REAL CATCH; WILD about GARDENING.

If cabbages conjure up memories of rotten school dinners, white butterflies and ugly dolls, you've not been keeping up with the latest trends in gardening circles.

Cabbages now come in all shapes and shades and, incredibly, have moved from the vegetable plot into pride of place among the flowers!

Ornamental cabbages are not grown for food but to brighten up borders and containers right through the winter. The colour of their leaves intensifies as the temperature drops, so your display can only get better as the nights draw in.

In garden centres you'll now find colourful kales as well as cabbages with frilled or frayed foliage and brightly-coloured veins and midribs.

They make a brilliant partner for fuchsias to perk up fading summer pots...or you can plan new colour schemes that will revive your patio and make your borders better than ever at this time of year.

For immediate impact, colour co-ordinate cabbages and chrysanths and match ivy to trail around the edge of the pot.

Or pick a pot in a matching colour... it's all the rage. This display will look stunning right through until the first frosts, when the chrysanths will die and need replacing with something else. Try winter flowering heathers and pansies and you won't go far wrong.

A classic combination for late- summer borders is red-variegated cabbages and bright yellow Rud- beckias. I also like using Hebe Autumn Glory, which has small, round leaves that are deep green and tinted purple, plus intensely violet flowers that look all the more stunning above a skirt of colourful cabbage.

Another good plant to bridge the gap between seasons is Pernettya Mother of Pearl, which has pink berries. Grow it alongside pink and white-leaved kale and pink pansies in a pretty pot or whicker basket.

For winter borders, I always plant weather-resistant Universal Pansies in bold drifts around clumps of cabbages.

For Spring, always have pots of bulbs and polyanthus at the ready to pack out your containers just when they need a bit of attention.

Bulbs are available in the garden centres now and they'll need planting in the next few weeks if you're going to get the timing right for spring.

QUESTIONS

& ANSWERS

This week's star letter comes from Stephen Goss, of Devon, who wins a year's subscription to Garden Answers magazine. He writes: "How do I prevent Cabbage Root Fly from destroying my brassicas?"

ADRIENNE SAYS: Cabbage Root Fly is easy to control. After planting out, simply put a felt collar around each plant. These are available from garden centres or can be made using pieces of carpet... ask your local carpet shop for scraps of underfelt. If you've got quite a few rows, place a sheet of horticultural fleece, or garden netting, over the young plants.

My lilac plant is growing like Topsy. Can I prune it? - Sheila Johnstone, West Lothian.

Lilacs don't like to be pruned often, but if it's getting out of hand have a go and hope that next year it will have enough energy to flower. If it doesn't, it will be back the year after. Trim back the flowered shoots and feed the plant. It will be all the new growth produced this year that will bear blooms next summer.

GARDEN

GOODIES

As the summer fades to autumn and the leaves start to fall, now's your chance to recycle your garden and use this season's windfalls to boost your borders. Leaves make a wonderful compost that can be used to mulch your beds next year. To ensure your compost is ready for spring use Biotal's special formula Compost Maker for Leaves. It's available from garden centres in 100ml, 250ml and 500ml bottles for just pounds 1.79, pounds 3.59 and pounds 5.99 respectively. We have 250 100ml bottles to give away. For your chance to win one send your name and address to Sunday Mirror/Biotal, 5 Chiltern Close, Cardiff CF4 5DL. Prizes go to the first 50 cards picked at random after September 5. Normal rules apply, with no cash alternatives.

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Hibiscus, or Tree Hollyhocks, are one of the most up-and-coming shrubs. They've been popularised mostly by Notcutts Nurseries of Woodbridge, who offer nine varieties in their catalogue.

These late-flowering plants thrive in any well-drained soil and love a sunny spot. Try the most popular variety, Blue Bird, which produces blue hollyhock-like flowers up to 3in across.

Another favourite is William R. Smith, which although compact still produces large flowers in white with crimped petals. For details of the Notcutts range contact 01394 445400.

BUG WATCH

In the damper parts of Scotland, Ireland and the West Country there's every chance you could be harbouring a criminal... the New Zealand Flatworm.

This pest is found under stones in the daytime, but at night it slithers into the soil to search for its dinner - earthworms.

They are dark with a cream rim around the edge, with a sticky body. There's no chemical control for them. If you find one destroy it, as it is illegal to knowingly spread them.

JOBS FOR THE WEEK

Prune rambling roses when the flowers have finished.

Remove old tomato leaves as they start to yellow and nip out any side shoots as they appear so that all energy goes into ripening the remaining fruit. Putting a ripe banana in the greenhouse will help tomatoes turn red.

Take cuttings of your favourite bedding geraniums now and root them on the window sill indoors. They'll need to be kept warm and cosy throughout the winter.
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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Wild, Adrienne
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 31, 1997
Words:925
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