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GARDENING.

Weeds in the garden are like acne; one day you're congratulating yourself on how glamorous everything is.

The next day you look again and... aaaaagh! Major eruptions. Weeds popping up everywhere like a rash. A shower of rain is all it takes.

But one man's weed is another man's treasure. And what you call a weed is entirely up to you.

At Craigieburn we have bags of room, so we enjoy plants such as foxgloves, cow parsley and Welsh poppies seeding themselves around.

But we actually planted the pretty little horned viola, viola cornuta.

It's too darn fertile and it's taking over our cottage garden. We love it, but harden our hearts and tweak it out. It's a weed!

Midsummer is primetime for annual weeds. We all have our pet hates - groundsel, rock cress or chickweed.

Here at Craigieburn, 1997 is the year of lesser willowherb. This pesky plague grows a foot a day, and it's scrawny pink flowers have blurred all our prize plantings.

We pull it out in armfuls, cursing ourselves for forgetting the old saying: "One year's seeding is seven years weeding."

"Get the hoe out," say the garden books. Not in Scotland!

Just try keeping up a rhythm on that claggy, stony soil. A three-pronged cultivator, or a long- handled fork works better here, we find.

But the best weapon against annual weeds takes forethought.

A NICE, thick mulch of compost bark or well- rotted manure, applied after the spring rains, works a treat by smothering seedlings.

This is the textbook way to do it ... but, somehow, this year we never got round to it.

The real garden gangsters are the perennial weeds, especially those with running rootstocks. Docks and dandelions are easy.

Treat them with a spot weeder, or fork them out, trying not to break the brittle tap-roots.

Some go down to Australia and bring out the Schwarzenegger tendency. `I'm going to get you, you b******!' Heave! Grunt!

Ground elder and creeping buttercup are the thugs of damp gardens.

If these pernicious pests are on unplanted ground, repeated applications of a systemic weedkiller sees them off eventually.

These infiltrate the plant's system and kill slowly, but efficiently.

If your borders are infested, though, the only remedy is to tease out yards of running root by hand, while being bitten rotten by midgies. Sorry.

Finally, the Kray Twins of the garden; bindweed and the dreaded mare's tail. If you have major infestations of either of these menaces, you have all my sympathy.

And my only advice is: "Move House!"

Plant of the week

PAPAVA SOMNIFERUM

ALSO known as the opium poppy, there's no need to worry about the opium bit - all you'll get from this are beautiful flowers.

These poppies are annuals and child's play to grow. A cheap packet of seed gives a glorious display all summer long and it's not too late to scatter a bit round your sunny borders to give the garden a real late summer lift.

Your reward: Wavy, sea-green foliage topped by frilly chiffon flowers in a fabulous range of colours.

These include soft whites, lipstick reds, subtle pinks and, best of all, a wicked black.
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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Chudziak, Bill; Wheatcroft, Janet
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 28, 1997
Words:527
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