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GARDENING: Go natural; SOW YOURSELF A COLOURFUL CORNER.

Byline: STEVE RICHES

DOESN'T it make you sick how often gardens which involve least work turn out looking the best?

Gardens full of shrubs tended only rarely, patios packed with pots that want only water and rockeries that revel in their independence spring to mind. But the wild flower garden is in a class of its own.

This is gardening for the enthusiast, the complete amateur and the bone idle rolled into one.

With hardly any effort, you can invite some of the most beautiful of all flowers into your own backyard rather than merely brushing through them as you take a short cut to the pub through a field.

Poppies and foxgloves, ox-eye daisies, cornflowers and cowslips - they'll all complement your garden.

All you need is a bit of ground. A spare corner which you've never bothered to cultivate.

The soil doesn't have to be a particular type, nor does it need any virtues. Indeed, most wild flowers prefer it just as it is without you tampering with nutrient levels. It doesn't have to be in full sun and drainage is no big deal, either.

Then all you have to do is buy the seed. Most merchants sell mixed packets, or you can buy the likes of poppies and cornflowers separately. Mr Fothergill's cost pounds 1.29-pounds 1.99.

Or visit a specialist nursery and treat yourself to old favourites like dog violet, periwinkle, marsh marigold, lesser celandine, wood sorrel, clover and yellow flag.

The adventurous may prefer the gloriously-named varieties like greater stitchwort, germander speedwell and treacle mustard. There's even a dinner party show-stopper: "Would you like to see my devil's bit scabious?"

Whatever you do, don't go digging up the countryside or you'll face the wrath of the police or, much worse, people in plastic sandals who knit their own jumpers.

The seed secured, clear the weeds out of your chosen area and rake it roughly all over before scattering the seeds wherever you fancy. The seeds will happily follow the rake's progress, slotting themselves into the little grooves.

You won't end up with a meadowy masterpiece, but you will have created a little corner that will for ever be England. Wild things? They'll make your heart sing.

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WILD THINGS: Foxgloves and (inset) poppies
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:May 25, 2003
Words:379
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