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LAUNCH BANK HOLIDAY BLITZ.

It's a Bank Holiday weekend and for any of us not away at the beach that means a chance to spend more time in the garden.

At this time of the year there is so much to do that you could spend every minute of the weekend hard at work and still not get everything done.

But let's be realistic, this being a holiday, and concentrate on the jobs that really can't be put off.

The recent hot weather, combined with some spectacular downpours, has made everything grow faster and more lush than usual.

Even the rough grass I call my lawn is still a lovely shade of green - quite unusual for this time of year.

If you live on light, sandy or free-draining soil, then yours may be suffering a bit, but remember - if you do water it, do so thoroughly.

If the soil is dry it'll take a good soaking to be of any real benefit to the roots. That way you won't need to do it very often.

Always think before you water the grass, though. Even if it has turned a very nasty shade of brown it invariably recovers with a bit of tender loving care and some autumn maintenance.

Weeds are a more pressing matter. These, too, are still romping away and given half a chance will be setting seed in no time at all. So make a thorough weeding a priority.

If you do it in the heat of the day small weeds can be left on the soil surface where they'll soon frizzle up.

Strawberries

But don't risk this if they're precocious seeders such as groundsel or hairy bittercress.

If you grow strawberries then you must not delay tidying them up. Cut the old leaves back to about four inches (10cm) above the crown.

Cut off all runners and then clear away all the straw or mats, dead leaves and, of course, weeds.

Doing this will not only make everything look a lot tidier but it should destroy a lot of hiding places for all those pests and diseases which love to attack your hard work.

Once everything is tidy the strawberries would benefit from the application and watering in of a general fertiliser.

It's also a good time to give shrubs and woody climbers a boost.

For these a general feed is inadvisable. The relatively high nitrogen content may promote a sudden spurt of late growth and this won't be tough enough to survive winter or spring frosts.

But anything that you grow for its flowers will do a lot better if you apply sulphate of potash (available from most good garden centres).

Just sprinkle it over the root area and water in well. The potash will help to ripen the wood and encourage an even better display next year.

There you have a few very general recommendations for work over the long weekend.

No doubt there are lots more jobs you could do in your own garden.

But remember that there is no point in having a peaceful garden unless you take the time to enjoy it.

PURPLE PEOPLE GREETER

THE Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is a welcoming hardy herbaceous perennial if you've got problems finding something to grow in damp areas of your garden.

It's easy and reliable and from July through until early September it produces great tall spires of purple flowers which attract bees and butterflies. It thrives in boggy ground, but given any reasonably moist soil it'll usually say hello.

There are several good varieties to choose from, including Firecandle which grows to about 4ft (120cm) tall and has reddish pink flower spikes, and Blush which is only about 32in (80cm) tall and has delicate, pale pink flower spikes.

Propagate established clumps by division in the autumn or spring.

OUR LILY'S A TALL ORDER

LILIUM Regale must be the most popular lily this century. Visit any traditional English garden in summer and you'll see them standing 5ft tall with up to 15 large trumpets per stem.

They naturalise well and will produce years of pleasure. Flowers are white flushed purple on the outside with yellow centres - and there isn't a more fragrant lily in the garden.

Mirror readers can buy six Lilium Regale Bulbs for just pounds 6.95 or 12 for just pounds 12.95. Prices include p&p. Send your order to: The Mirror Lilium Regale Offer, PO Box 64, South West District Office, Manchester M16 9HY. Make a cheque/ PO to Mirror Group Newspaper MGN596. Name and address on the back, please. Or call the credit-card order hotline on 0161 431 6431. Please quote ref: MGN596 Lilium Offer.

Please allow up to 28 days for delivery. Offer subject to availability and UK mainland readers only. Offer closes September 30, 1997.

The names of the rose

IF YOU'VE a passion for old roses, treat yourself to the updated edition of Peter Beales's Classic Roses.

This sumptuously illustrated book has been totally revamped and includes more than 650 beautiful photographs.

It is packed with all you could wish to know about these garden favourites - what to grow where, what varieties to choose, how to propagate and care for them and much more.

It costs pounds 19.99 in paperback or pounds 40 in hardback.

Runners are all has beans

QThis year many of my beans are peculiar shapes - both the runners and the French beans. Some have kinks in them, others seem to swell one end and hardly grow at all on the other. Is it a virus?

A I'M AFRAID I think you can say it's all down to the weather!

If the beans look otherwise perfect then erratic water levels and extreme ups and downs in temperature (both hard to avoid this year) have probably caused the beans to swell unevenly hence their peculiar shapes.

Sometimes early injury, usually by slugs or snails, causes kinking too, the bean bending towards the place where the slug had its meal.

First call for Christmas..

IF YOU plan to grow unusual bulbs for flowering indoors at Christmas, make moves now to order some from specialist bulb catalogues.

CONTINUE to thin out tomato foliage to allow the sun through to ripen the fruits.

SOW kohlrabi in half- inch deep drills, about 15in apart.

THIN earlier sowings of swedes and parsnips, leaving about six inches (15cm) between each young plant. Water in well.

DEADHEAD bedding plants in borders or containers to help them flower more and for longer.

BORDER carnations layered earlier should now have enough roots of their own to be cut and moved into permanent positions.
COPYRIGHT 1997 MGN LTD
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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Greenwood, Pippa
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 23, 1997
Words:1099
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