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A golden future for your purple patch.

TRANSFORM an awkward corner with a winning combination of gold- leaved shrubs and purple flowers.

It's a class act that never fails to delight and will cheer up the dullest spot...even in the gloomiest summer weather.

For the main player pick a strong plant such as the Golden Robinia, an outstanding small tree for a modern garden which has superb bright yellow foliage that lasts from spring through to autumn before fading to coppery hues.

It produces deliciously fragrant white flowers in June too, so provides great value where space is short.

A good alternative or ideal companion is the Mock Orange, Philadelphus coronarius Aureus. It's an easy-going shrub with strong-scented, semi- double white blooms that last for several weeks during June and July.

The leaves are lime-green and clothe the entire plant, making it a perfect plant to use as a foil for plum-coloured leaves and purple blooms. It grows to about 4ft tall. The purple-leaved Berberis is a good partner, especially Berberis thunbergii Atropurpurea which has lovely bright foliage that turns a vivid red in autumn. Flowers in spring are followed by bright red autumn fruit.

Sage - or grey-leaved plants - are a good buffer between colours. The Jerusalem Sage, Phlomis fruticosa, ties in well with its clusters of yellow stalkless flowers in June and July. The rough- textured, evergreen leaves are covered in greyish-green felt that makes it look like a giant sage.

Always leave room for a Euphorbia, especially the variety Wulfenii.

The leaves are blue-grey and layered in whorls up the entire length of the 4ft stems. In May and June the tips of last year's stems form spikes of sulphur-yellow blooms.

To fill any gaps choose plants with frothy flowers in blue or yellow. Try lime-green blooms of Lady' Mantle, Alchemilla mollis, and the lavender-blue Catmint.

Both will tumble on to paths and squeeze between the shrubs, suppressing weeds.

GIVE your houseplants a holiday in the garden. Stand them in a sheltered place and hose them down to remove dust from the leaves. Bring them indoors if the weather turns cold.

CHECK variegated shrubs for shoots that have reverted back to the all- green form and prune them out.

ENSURE a regular supply of courgettes by pollinating the flowers. Remove the petals from the male flower and push it into the centre of a female...recognised by the small baby fruit behind the petals... making sure that the sticky, yellow pollen rubs on to the bristly female stigma.

TRIM honeysuckles when the flowers have faded to train them neatly over their support and prevent them from becoming a heavyweight mass of intertwined growth.

THIS week's star letter comes from Jack Ward, of Oldham, Greater Manchester, who wins a year's subscription to Garden Answers magazine. He writes: "The buds and partly- opened blooms on my roses are covered in a grey fungus. What is the problem?"

ADRIENNE SAYS: It is grey mould which tends to be worse in damp, humid weather. During hot, dry conditions the symptoms appear as brown patches on the buds, blooms and stems. To prevent the disease from spreading, thin out overcrowded stems and dead flowers. Spray with Bio Systhane and treat again if the symptoms reappear.

DO you know where to buy a large strawberry barrel? - D. Freeman, Corby, Northants.

ADRIENNE SAYS: Large plastic strawberry planters that will accommodate as many as 36 plants are available from Ken Muir, the specialist mail order fruit grower and strawberry expert (01255 830181).

I WANT to buy my dad something useful for the garden. He takes great pride in his patio plants and is always watering and feeding them. Have you any ideas? - Tina Norton, Sudbury, Suffolk.

ADRIENNE SAYS: What about a Phostrogen Thru'Hose Feeder? It's a great boon for someone like your dad as the fertiliser is placed in a dispenser and attached to the hose, which can be fixed to a wall near an outside tap, to save the bother of having to mix fertiliser and carry it around the garden. At the turn of a tap you can feed and water at the same time. Available from garden centres at around pounds 19.99.

I HAVE seen a lovely tropical foliage plant called Canna growing in a garden in Bournemouth. Is it possible to grow it here in Norfolk? - Derek Willis, East Dereham.

ADRIENNE SAYS: Yes, provided they are given protection in the winter. They are grown from thick fleshy roots called rhizomes which are available in spring. They are started off indoors and planted out in a sunny spot at the end of May. You may be lucky and find some ready-grown plants.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Wild, Adrienne
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 19, 1998
Words:774
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