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BRIAN TALMAN shows off the new verbena Scentsation

A NEW verbena with a knockout scent is one of five outstanding flower and vegetable varieties from Mr Fothergill’s Seeds to be won in this competition.

We have TEN sets to give away, worth £14 each.

Verbena Scentsation, exclusively bred by Mr Fothergill’s, combines a wonderful range of colours with a gorgeous perfume.

Verbenas are colourful hardy annuals which flower from June-October but do not normally have much scent.

The new variety was discovered by seed trials manager Brian Talman in 2011 as he checked the 2,000 varieties tested at the firm’s Suffolk trial ground each year.

Brian caught a whiff of a sweet scent and tracked it down to a single verbena plant.

Brian told All Together NOW! : “I knew that if this plant passed on its colour and fragrance to its offspring we would be on to a winner. Not only was it a very pretty and compact verbena but the scent had to be smelt to be believed.”

The plant was dug up, nurtured in a greenhouse and produced 300-400 seeds, resulting in 150 produced   top-quality, fragrant flowers.

Exhaustive tests and selection took place before the verbena’s superb qualities – six soft colours, suitable for bedding, containers and cutting, plant health and vigour, as well as scent – were established and seed stock was built up ready for sale in 2018.

Scentsation is one of five top-quality varieties in our prize – two more flowers and two vegetables.

The flowers are two other new varieties, sweet pea Lady Salisbury, pure white and strongly perfumed, and linum Bright Eyes, an eye-catching hardy annual, white with a red centre.

The vegetables are tomato Sweet Aperitif, best under glass, where it produces literally hundreds of extremely sweet, small fruits on cordon-trained plants, and Yellowstone, a very long, full-flavoured carrot which shows good resistance to root fly.

To enter the competition, answer this question: What is unusual about Verbena Scentsation?

email your entry to competition@alltogethernow.org.uk. Please insert SCENTSATION in the subject line – and include your full address. Deadline is Friday 26 January

For the full range of Mr Fothergill’s products, go to:

www.mr-fothergills.co.uk

The Gloom busters!

DON’T let dreary weather reign in your garden – bathe in the golden warmth of evergreen shrubs and climbers that can convert the dullest plot into a winter wonderland.

Cultivated forms of ivy make a great backdrop without being as invasive as the wild kinds.

They have leaves of many shapes, sizes and colours including the gleaming Sulphur Heart, also sold as Paddy’s Pride.

Griselinia are upright evergreen shrubs with tiny yellow-green flowers, male and female on separate plants.

They make an ideal windbreak, especially in coastal gardens, growing up to 2.5m (9ft) in 15 years.

Winter jasmine is not strictly evergreen but a redoubtably tough wall shrub.

This quick-growing species sprouts long, arching branches, ideal for threading through trellis or tying to wires. Small, dark, glossy leaves decorate the stems until late autumn. The shrub can be trained to cover an area 3m (10ft) high and wide.

Why stop at using holly for Christmas decoration? Plant one of the varieties with golden-splashed leaves. They look good all year, tolerate pollution, make impenetrable hedges and are fine for topiary.

Honeysuckle is not normally linked with winter but recent warmer autumns have encouraged the evergreen Japanese form, Lonicera japonica, to produce clouds of sweet-scented flowers until late in the year.

For an unfailingly bright feature all year, plant a choisya shrub, making sure it is the variety Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’, which grows 1.5m (5ft) tall but can be pruned to keep it smaller.

WINTER CHECKLIST

FLOWERS: Fallen leaves can harbour slugs and other pests so clear them from flower borders. As soon as possible, finish planting tulips and any overdue spring bedding. Apply a slow-release general fertiliser around perennial flowering plants and hoe it in lightly.

SHRUBS AND TREES: Brighten up north and east-facing walls and fences by planting hardy climbers such as winter jasmine, which produces masses of yellow, star-shaped flowers, and ivy varieties with variegated gold and green leaves such as Sulphur Heart. Plant in early December when no frost is expected.

PATIOS: Move patio pots into the sunniest position and raise them on bricks or pot feet so they do not stand in puddles after winter rains.

LAWNS: Clean the mower, check nuts, bolts and wiring, have it serviced and sharpened if necessary.

PONDS: Remove leaves from the surface. Left to sink and rot, they use oxygen, which is needed by fish and other pond life.

VEGETABLES: Keep leeks earthed up. Support tall crops like brussels sprouts against winter gales.

HERBS: Pot up parsley and chives to grow on an indoor windowsill. Also pot up roots of mint in 22cm (9in) pots and keep them under glass to provide early shoots when they will be most appreciated early next spring.

GLASS: In the greenhouse or conservatory, water sparingly overwintering fuchsias and other exotics, keeping the compost just moist. Check for insect pests on the plants and squash or spray.

HOUSEPLANTS: Take care not to overwater but continue to feed varieties still to flower such as Christmas cactus. Make sure plants have enough light, but don’t leave them on a windowsill at night after the curtains are drawn or they will suffer in the chilly gap between glass and curtain.