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If your plants don't give you a buzz, then they have to go.

Kenneth Cox, Glendoick Garden

8 THE ericaceae family includes heathers, rhododendrons and azaleas, and all require moist, but well-drained, acid or peaty soil.

There are more than 800 species of rhododendrons and azaleas. For me, the choice varieties are those with both interesting foliage and flowers. Rhododendron rex, with pale pink flowers, has large leaves up to18in or more. The plant can grow to 20ft x 20ft. At the other end of the scale is a a wonderful, two-toned, pink dwarf called Wee-Bee, which grows to only 2ft 9in. Ideal for small gardens.

As the rhododendron season draws to an end, the north American kalmia latifolia comes into its own.

This tough, evergreen shrub has delightful flowers with deep-coloured crinkled buds opening up like miniature parasols in June and July.

Adam Pascoe, Editor BBC Gardeners' World Magazine

9 EVEN the smallest patio comes alive when you introduce plant pots, containers and hanging baskets. Here are some rules to follow for the best results.

The larger the pot, the easier it will be to look after. Remember, it's likely many plants you'll use will be delicate so don't put any outside until there's no risk of frost.

Make sure your containers have drainage holes in their bases. Fill with special container compost, not garden soil, and mix in some water-retaining gel to help it stay moist.

Most composts contain little plant food, so add slow-release fertiliser granules to keep plants fed all summer.

Once plants are established they will need watering at least once a day, more often on particularly hot patios.

Ian Hodgson, Editor The Garden

10 A HERBACEOUS border can make a dramatic statement in any garden. All it needs is a little care, planning and a selection of long-flowering plants. Choose a sunny, sheltered site. Plan your colour combinations carefully and avoid a hotchpotch of tones.

Blue and yellow are both cool and vibrant, while brooding reds, bronzes and ochres can be exhilarating but should be used with restraint. Set pale schemes using white, cream or pale yellow against a dark background to avoid it looking insipid.

Bill Chudziak, Sunday Mail

11 THEY may have the image of a bleak, barren place but the Himalayas have their own unique eco-system. Here you find all plant zones - from tropical to high alpine and everything in between. At around 10,000ft the climate is similar to Scotland's west coast and here you will find unbelievable treasures like lilium nepalense. Although only 2ft tall in flower, the bell-shaped blooms hang gracefully and are a curious greeny-yellow towards their ends, almost as if the tips have been dipped in marmite. Within the blooms is a plush maroon interior and everybody who sees it wants one. For best results grow it in a sunny border with plenty of drainage.

Himalayan shrubs do especially well in Scotland. Try Daphne bholua - a mature plant can reach 5ft and is covered with sugar-pink blooms with an intense perfume. Acid soil and a sheltered position bring out its best.

Barry Unwin, Logan Botanics

12 OUR weather may not be exactly tropical, but Logan Botanic Gardens, on the Mull of Galloway, is a haven for exotic plants. They have a helping hand from the warm Gulf Stream, but the real secret is to provide plenty of shelter for delicate plants.

Also, try to choose varieties that grow in cooler regions of so-called hot countries. Australian myrtles and eucalyptus are worth trying, as is the crimson-flowered crinodendron hookerianum, the Chilean Lantern Tree.

From Madeira come two real gems - isoplexis sceptrum, with lovely orange flowers, and echium nervosum, which has amazing blue flower spikes.

Many more exotics thrive in Scotland so, go on - challenge nature and win.

Ian Young, President, Scottish Rock Garden Club

13 I DON'T know anyone who is not enchanted by alpines. These plants are among the toughest in the world and whatever your garden is like there are alpines to suit you - even if all you have is a window box.

With careful selection, you can have plants in bloom all year. Most alpines grow well in any well-drained soil and contribute to a really interesting garden.

Most garden centres offer a range of alpines but for the best selections it's worth trying specialist alpine nurseries.

Adam Train, John Train & Son

14 MARCH is the traditional month for planting roses, which have, regrettably, lost ground to other plants in recent years and yet are still probably the best value.

With care and attention, roses should last for many years. Bushes are usually bought potted or pre-packed in garden centres.

If you want something special, it is better to go to a specialist nursery for the best advice.

A good tip: roses love lime and a dressing of 120gm/sq mt (4oz/sq yd) of garden lime when you prune your roses at the end of this month will work wonders.

Christopher Lloyd, Great Dixter Garden

15 WE should all take a long hard look at our garden often to assess whether we like the way its plants are arranged and whether each of them is pulling its weight.

Passengers should not be tolerated, nor any plant which fails to give us a buzz at least once a year. We should ask ourselves: 'Do I really like you?' A plant needs to go if it's merely a piece of furniture we take for granted.

Whatever your climate, it is sure to suit certain beautiful plants. On my annual visits to Scotland, I am always delighted to see plants thriving which would be struggling if they were attempted in south-east England.

Rock gardening is well suited to Scotland. It is a form of gardening which allows scope for growing a great many different plants in quite a small area. That is exciting, but you want to keep things interesting all year, not just in spring and early summer.

Although this style of gardening is almost inevitably spotty, as regards blobs of colour, you can still organise your colours and shapes so they flatter one another.

Always look hard at what is growing next to what and keep asking yourself how much satisfaction it's giving you. Don't be put off by comments from visitors who think their taste is better than yours. It's your garden, but it deserves your critical and loving attention.

Nigel Willis, Highland Heathers

16 HEATHERS grow best in an acidic soil. They are equally at home in mixed borders or among shrubs.

As heathers are fast and low-growing, they're good for covering ground and preventing weeds.

Heathers can be very effective planted in tubs, troughs and window boxes. They flower all summer long whatever the weather. Planted with winter flowering types, they make a good alternative to winter pansies.

When planting in tubs, you must use ericaceous compost. Heathers do well in shady spots provided they don't get too dry, but golden foliage varieties are best in bright sunlight.

Looking after them is simple - just remove dead flower heads.

Andrew McCloy, Arboricultural Officer

17 PRUNING is vital to keep your trees healthy and in good shape. But remember any major surgery will affect how a tree develops in the future. A young tree will need some formative pruning to develop dominant stems within the crown. To prune a tree for health, you should remove broken or diseased branches immediately to improve its appearance. You must also trim away weak limbs and crossing branches.

If you're thinking of planting a tree for the first time and your garden is small, something like a weeping birch or Kilmarnock willow would be ideal. Contact the Scottish Agricultural College, Arboricultural Services, on 01555 662 562, for advice.

Andrew Scott, Reynard Nursery

18 I'M set to sew annuals, but a few weeks delay will not make any difference.

Plants grown in a month's time will catch up on those grown just now.

This is mainly down to light levels and general temperatures. Holding off a few weeks makes growing much easier by putting the plant under less stress.

If you hold off planting, the process of growing is faster and more exciting.

An easy example of this is impatiens grown from plugs. Start those plants now and it will take nine weeks to reach a saleable condition. Those same plugs started in May will be ready in three weeks.

But beware - young plants grown at this time of year are more prone to disease and death.

You will also need heating for most annuals of 10 degrees centigrade minimum. Keeping the plants off the floor and on a bench helps because floor temperature in a heated glasshouse can be five degrees cooler than normal head height.

Supplementary light during the day will help tender seedlings such as begonias and impatiens.

If this all seems to be getting too much work, just wait till your lawn needs cut.

Let's face it, if your grass is growing, everything else will want to grow as well.

Robert Wilson, Scotherbs

19 WHY grow herbs? Why not grow herbs? They look nice, smell nice and you can eat them. How many other plants in your garden can claim all these qualities?

Herbs are not difficult to grow, but to make a good supply for the kitchen that also look tidy takes some effort. Herbs are of two kinds, perennials and annuals. Rosemary, tarragon, chives, thymes and the mint family are perennials and should be bought as young plants.

Annuals like coriander, dill and chervil usually don't like being transplanted. Seed must be sown regularly to guarantee a constant supply.

Alison Craig, Sunday Mail

20 A COMMON misconception about gardening is it costs a fortune. But, believe me, it doesn't have to.

Take cuttings from existing plants. Why not chat up your neighbour or friends to get some snips from their favourites?

If you have a paved area that seems a bit dated, lift the slabs and re-lay them in a different shape. Or smash up large paving stones and lay as crazy paving.

You could try painting your fence or gate a nice bright colour - simple, but very effective.

Try to treat the garden as another room of the house and update it as you would inside.

Oh - and leave your mobile inside. You're supposed to be chilling out.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Gardening
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 11, 2001
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