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Watch out.. Black-eyed Susan is a fast mover.

IF you've got a bare fence, naked trellis or tatty shed to cover up quickly, then try your hand at growing some of the most colourful annual climbers from seed.

There are loads of interesting and exotic-looking plants, and for just a few pounds you can create colourful curtains that will cut out your view of any ugly feature in your garden for most of the summer.

The easiest ones to start with are trailing Nasturtiums, Black-eyed Susan and the yellow Canary Creeper.

The seed can be started off in pots and planted out in the middle of May.

They are quite vigorous plants and Black-eyed Susan will easily put on 10ft of growth between June and September, so as soon as the seedlings begin to romp away they'll need to be supported with a cane and fed to keep the green leaves healthy.

To get them off to a good start it's worth mixing plenty of garden compost into the soil.

If a hard frost is threatened in the first few weeks after planting, you must protect the plants at night with horticultural fleece - or old net curtains - to avoid the young shoots being burnt out. For something a bit different try Cobaea Scandens, which is more aptly called Cups and Saucers because each flower looks like a small cup sitting on a saucer.

It flowers in late summer and the shoots, which grip their support with strong tendrils, do an excellent cover-up job of unsightly objects.

Another eye-catching plant is the Climbing Chameleon, Mina Lobata. This produces unusual flower spikes that change colour. They start a brilliant red, then turn to orange and finally cream.

If you like the idea of giving your shed a trendy look with lick of bright blue paint, then the ideal climber to soften the edges is the Purple Bell Vine or Rhodochiton Atrosanguineum.

If your chain link fence is an eyesore, try Ornamental Gourds. These have pear-shaped fruits in green or gold that can be dried and varnished for winter decorations indoors.

STAR LETTER

THIS week's star letter comes from Pamela Howard, of Luton, who wins a year's subscription to Garden Answers magazine. She writes: "How do I get rid of the weed called Mind Your Own Business? It's spreading from my path and into my lawn."

ADRIENNE SAYS: Mind Your Own Business, or Soleirolia Soleirolii, is a really invasive weed. On your lawn try raking it out and if necessary, dig out large areas and re-turf or sow some new grass. Clean your paving, removing any soil from between the slabs, and point them with mortar if necessary.

Q & A

I'D like to attract butterflies into my garden but don't want to grow Buddlia. Can you recommend any other plants to try? I would ideally like to stick to a blue theme. - Sandra Worth, Essex.

YOU'LL get good results with the following herbaceous perennials: Scabious, the Globe Thistle, or Echinops ritro Veitch's Blue, Erigeron and the late-flowering Aster amellus Violet Queen. They all flower from mid-summer onwards and thrive in a fairly dry soil. Prepare the ground well before planting, mixing in plenty of garden compost to enrich the soil and get them off to a good start. In addition, you could edge the border with the fluffy-flowered Ageratum, which will bring a bit of life in June. And for an even earlier display, from April through to June, sprinkle a few seeds of blue forget-me-nots between the plants.

ADRIENNE regrets she cannot reply personally to your questions, but keep them coming for the page. Write to her c/o Sunday Mirror Features Dept., 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AP.

JOBS FOR

THE WEEK

SOW French Marigolds to give your summer pots and borders in this year's most fashionable colours of orange, brick red and bright yellow. Raise them in pots on the window sill and plant them out at the end of May.

PLANT thyme between your paving slabs for a scented patio. Avoid areas that get well trodden though, as the wear and tear may cause the plants to die.

IF your bulb flower buds fail to open it could be due to the plants being overcrowded. Dig them up and thin them out as soon as possible. An infestation of bulb fly, which will eventually lead to rot, may also be the culprit.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Wild, Adrienne
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 5, 1998
Words:727
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