Gardening: Hanging basket lovers in for a treat with blooms

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Begonia and hanging basket lovers are in for a treat with the fragrant Sweet Pearl Cascade, a cascading variety launched for this season.

Plants produce an abundance of fully double, creamy blooms, rich rose pink on the petal reverse, with a rose-like perfume.

Naturally bushy, the flowers form on lengthy (40cm/16in) trails and look best in hanging baskets, window boxes and patio containers, producing blooms from June to the first frosts.

Bred by Tim Kerley of Kerley & Co, Sweet Pearl Cascade is a sister to Sweet Coral Cascade.

Both these varieties of the fragrant plant are being sold exclusively by Woolmans.

Tom Stimpson, of Woolmans, said: “The fragrance is something very special and is really intense – in fact, if you closed your eyes while taking in the wonderful perfume, you could be forgiven for thinking you were standing in a field of roses!”

A pack of five young plants costs £14.95 (plus P&P) for despatch in late May.

Also new to Woolmans are five rose varieties, chosen for their perfumes, colours and disase resistance: three floribunda cultivars – Amélié Nothomb®, Generation Jardin® and Pompadour® (£15.95 each) and two climbers, Amnesty International® and Claude Monet® (£17.95 each), supplied as freshly dug bare rooted plants and despatched at the end of March.

Finally, a modern selection of regal Pelargoniums is also new, combining the beauty of Victorian varieties with non-stop summer flowering.

The varieties are Adele, Imperial, Jeanette, Lavender Splashed and Red Velvet, and are priced £10.95 for five plants.

A collection of one of each can be bought for £11.95 and a double collection (two of each) costs £17.90, saving £6.

Plants will be despatched from late March.

To order Woolmans Chrysanthemum and Ornamental Plant Catalogue, visit www.woolmans.com, telephone 0845 658 9137 or write to Woolmans, Gazeley Road, Kentford, Suffolk CB8 7QB.

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JOBS TO DO THIS WEEKEND

Dahlia tubers stored over winter (or bought this year) can be started into growth. Place them in a light, warm place to sprout before planting. They will need misting with a spray bottle to stop them drying out.

Divide and/or plant bulbs-in-the-green, such as snowdrops (Galanthus) and winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis).

Send soil samples for pH and nutrient testing (if necessary), or buy a kit from a garden centre and do it yourself. This can help you choose the correct plants for the site in question, and allow you to rectify any nutrient deficiencies with a spring feed.

Clear up weedy beds before mulching. Lighter soils can be mulched now, but heavier soils are best left until March, when the soil is warmer.

Top dress spring-flowering alpines with grit or gravel to show off the plants and to help prevent stem rots. Remove dead leaves from around the basal rosettes of alpine plants to prevent rotting.

Cut out the top rosette of leaves from the leggy stems of Mahonia x media cultivars to encourage branching.

Mulch and feed shrubs, trees, hedges and climbers after pruning, to give them energy for the extra growth they will put on after cutting back.

Begonia, Gloxinia and Achimenes tubers can all be planted this month. Begonias and gloxinias need to be planted hollow side upwards; Achimenes can be planted on their sides, in trays if necessary, before potting them once growth appears.

In cold frames, greenhouses or polytunnels, sow beetroot, broad beans, summer and autumn cabbage, carrots, kales, leeks, lettuce and spring onions. These can all be sown in trays or plugs to be planted out towards the end of March.

Start sowing bedding plants such as impatiens, violas and pansies in a heated propagator. Transplant when seedlings are forming their third or fourth leaf. This can take anywhere between four and six weeks.