NET WORK

 
Published: Sunday 31 May 1998

Springing into actionSpring is in. The birds are singing and the fragrance of the first blossoms has filled the air. So get ready with that rake to do some serious gardening this year. If you are curious to know what will grow in that patch in your lawn, but do not know who to ask, look no further. The friendly, neighbourhood Web has no shortages of tip for the amateur gardener. A wonderful point to start in the US-based Smithsonian Institution's Seeds of Change Garden pages at http://horizon.nmsu.edu/garden/seasons/sprin. html. They even have a checklist of gardening equipment that an amateur should not be caught toiling in the garden without.
Everything greenIf everything green is your scene, then you can access vast amounts of information about plants, including searchable databases, on the Web pages of the Royal Botanical Gardens at http://www.rbgkew.org.uk. Eventually, you will even be able to search an index to the DNA samples held by Kew. And for the amateur cloner -- helpful advice on the pages of horticultural science group at the University of New England, UK, at http://www.une.edu.au/~agronomy/AgSSrHorTCinfo.html.
Am-bushedAmbitious gardeners may want to try their hand at the ancient art topiary: trimming trees and shrubs into different shapes and sizes. This dates back to the days of the Roman Empire. Pliny the Younger described his villa in Tuscany as being surrounded by a box hedge "adorned with the representation of numerous animals". Interested? You can find out more about cutting and beating about the bushes at http://topiaryart.com.

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