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GARDENING: Pond Life; NOW'S THE TIME FOR A SPRING CLEAN.

Byline: STEVE RICHES

IF you have a garden pond, then get ready to take the plunge.

Assuming you haven't got a mountain of frog spawn and can avoid splashing about and disturbing other wildlife, now's the time to snap up some new plants and chuck out the tatty ones.

Clear out the real rubbish first, especially the monstrous blanketweed plus any lingering dead leaves, and away you go.

There are three main types: The must-have submerged oxygenators with glorious names (like crowfoot, monkey tail and hortwort) which keep the pond healthy, marginals which must never dry out (like marsh marigold and arrowhead) and water lilies, which root to the bottom with leaves and flowers on the surface.

Garden centres have a huge choice these days, but make sure you've got a couple of the wonderfully delicate water violets and statuesque arum lilies and irises.

Remember that plants (they'll cost from 90p) will always look better clumped together rather than dotted around neatly like re-surfacing synchronised swimmers.

Planting techniques vary, so follow instructions to the letter.

-ELSEWHERE, there's plenty to do. If you have glass to foil the frost or have a spare windowsill, you can sow tender bedding plants in trays and also take cuttings, which can save a small fortune.

Over-wintered fuchsias will be sprouting by now and are ready for the snip, along with dahlias and pelargoniums. Just cut below a healthy new leaf joint, dip into a specialist rooting compound and plant in 3ins pots of compost. Keep them moist. Once-dancing daffodils will be toppling over like dancefloor drunks now, so don't delay dead-heading them.

If you leave the blooms on, they'll produce seed rather than channel that energy into producing new buds from inside to flower next year.

-VEG growers shouldn't waste a moment, as long as the soil is warmish and not waterlogged. Ideally, seeds of parsnips should already be in because they have the longest growing season of all.

Fruit tree fans should give them a treat of fertiliser now that growth is in full swing. Don't overdo it, though - you'll presumably want some edible goodies rather than masses of leaves.

-GREENHOUSES are warming up nicely, so make sure you open vents on warm days to let air circulate and reduce risk of damp-inspired problems.

Also pinch out tips of new growth on plants which have been over-wintered to encourage bushier growth.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Apr 10, 2005
Words:398
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