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Jobs to do this week . . . Notebook Best of the Bunch Achillea.

1 Japanese onions - If you got your sets planted last October you will probably have a really good crop now.

Break the root hold and lay the onions on their sides for a week or two and then lay them out on drying racks in a sunny position until the tops shrivel and the outer skins go golden brown.

The onions can then be stored in a cool, dry place; check each onion for any soft areas and discard these as the fungal infection that causes this can transfer to the clean ones while in storage.

The same technique will be necessary with any garlic that you planted last autumn.

For spring-planted sets and seeds harvest will not be until mid-August at the earliest.

2 Garden furniture - Have you checked yours recently?

Does the wood look grey and tired? Are your plastic chairs looking as if they need a good clean?

Whatever your situation now is a good time, before you put your feet up and relax for the rest of the summer, to give the garden furniture a good clean.

Treat wooden chairs and tables with teak oil or similar and use a good household cleaner to remove dirt and stains from plastics.

If you have metal garden furniture treatments will be specified in the documents provided when new.

But anti-rust treatments may be necessary as well as a decorative coat of outdoor quality paint.

Check all nuts and bolts and other securing devices so that the chairs and tables do not collapse on you just as you sit down for that well-earned cup of afternoon tea!!

IF you had asked me what I thought of yarrows 30 years ago I would probably have told you they were a pernicious lawn weed and should not really be considered for garden use. Achillea, to give them their more correct botanical name, are now easily available and are easy to care for.

Because of the current interest and enthusiasm for prairie planting, naturalistic planting, wildlife gardening and the hard work of nurserymen over the last 20 years, we now have scores of cultivars to choose from to enhance the flower displays in our early to mid-summer gardens, as well as supporting a wide range of wildlife.

These tough, sun-loving herbaceous perennials are originally from across the Mediterranean area. There are over 80 species to choose from and now nearly 200 cultivars, with every colour available apart from the blues and purples. Their multiple flower heads, correctly known as corymbs, are actually a collection of miniature daisy flowers, flowering for up to four weeks in July and early August. They are also attractive to hoverflies, good natural predators on aphids. Butterflies and moths will also use the flowers.

Plant them in a free-draining soil in full sunshine. Do not make the soil too rich or moisture retentive.

My diary . . .

To bee or not to bee - as a lover of honey, I have found the new book by Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum particularly interesting. Entitled 'Keeping Bees And Making Honey', the book describes every aspect of this fascinating process, from commercial growers' need for bees, to the harvesting and uses of the final products - honey and bees wax. With excellent photographs to support the interesting and detailed text, it is a book for anyone who is looking to start keeping bees as part of a self-sufficiency or sustainable lifestyle. Published by David and Charles, it retails at pounds 14.99 - ISBN 978-07153-2810-1. Have a look at www.urbanbees.co.uk for more information about keeping bees in an urban environment.

West Yorkshire Forget Me Not Trust - Emily and Ron have been opening their one acre garden in Lindley for a variety of charities for some years now and, on July 13 they will be opening it again for the West Yorkshire Forget Me Not Trust (www.forgetmenottrust.co.uk). So, on Sunday July 13th from 1 pm onwards get along to 112 Lindley Moor Road, Lindley for a fabulous garden and a wonderful cause. Call Emily and Ron on 01422 372796 for more information or to offer help on the day. Don't forget to visit Carol Puszkiewicz's award winning garden at 2 Prospect Place, Outlane, tomorrow afternoon, Sunday July 6, from noon to 5 pm. Visit www.ngs.org.uk for more details.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jul 5, 2008
Words:721
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