The Daily Telegraph - Saturday


- Tom Brown is head gardener at West Dean Gardens, West Sussex

Grow cut flowers

If you’ve ever considered growing your own cut flowers, then very few plants are as straightfo­rward and as rewarding to grow as sweet peas and sunflowers. These can be sown in small pots now. Pop a couple of the large seeds in a pot and put them on a sunny windowsill. As the seedlings start to grow, they need a lot of sunshine. If they’re kept inside too long, the seedlings become stretched as they search for better light. So, when the seedlings are a few centimetre­s tall, move them outside during the day and bring them in at night to avoid the cold. Plant out sweet peas when they’re around 10cm tall; sunflowers can go out at the end of May. I recommend trying sweet pea ‘Gwendoline’ and the multiheade­d sunflower ‘Vanilla Ice’.

Save water

March and early April have been unseasonab­ly dry in West Sussex, but with bright, sunny days. This has meant that I’m watering plants a lot more than I’d normally expect at this time of year. It raises the issue of water conservati­on and the need to conserve any rain that we get in the next few weeks. Look at your garden and the buildings within it and see if you are harvesting all the rain water you can. If not, look to invest in water butts and gutter systems to become more self-sufficient. Lots are available online and you can pick up a drainpipe converter kit for £6 at

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