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Not much time for this week’s entry. Picky relatives arrive imminently and first class cakey comestibles are required. I’ve got the pastry cases in the oven, baking blind. Lemons are sliced and soaking and the timer is set.

Outdoors, I’m pruning roses. If you too are busy, you may chop across the top of the plants with a hedge trimmer or shears with little deleterious effect. This will make the bush more dense, increase the number of flowering shoots and keep the blooms lower down, for breathless admiration without having to strap on climbing gear. If this will not do, get your sharp secateurs, loppers and gauntlets to the elbow, a thick long sleeved jumper and a packet of Elastoplasts and follow me.

Sorry about this. Frangipane tart filling now made and cooking.
The shape that you are seeking is a goblet, with the stems around the outside and the central area empty, to allow air circulation. Making a clean, straight cut, take out any dead or diseased growth, back to a healthy stem. Stand back and examine the form that you are left with. Remove the weaker of any stems that are crossing or rubbing against another, as well as any stalks growing in the central bowl of the vase outline. Staunch the worst of the bleeding and apply sticking plasters. If you need a tourniquet, stop work temporarily and get a cup of tea until the pins and
needles stop.

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Lemon preserve topping mixed and simmering gently on the hob. I’ve got an hour, let’s not waste it.

The first law of roses is that the remaining branches need to be trimmed to one quarter inch above the lowest outward facing bud. The second law is that there will be no bud so placed. Cut to one that will not result in new growth being forced into the centre. You can always make a smaller remedial prune later in the year, if you are not too weak from anaemia to walk to the shed. Throw trimmings bearing signs of black spot or mildew into the household waste bin, to contain the fungal spores and stop it from spreading around your garden or someone else’s. All of the rest can be shredded if you have the kit and then composted. Spread some fish, blood and bone fertiliser around the bush and gently rake it into the soil.

After attacking all of my roses, I like to take a hot shower so that I may inspect my valiantly won wounds in the big bathroom mirror. I usually look as if I’ve lost a fight with a brace of tigers. I dress in a short sleeved t-shirt that displays my stripes to best advantage and then take a trip to the local supermarket. Around the aisles of plenty, I adopt a dangerous walk and direct ferocious looks at the infants behaving badly. I get a huge kick out of their instant silence and the mothers who pull the screamers out of my path with fear on their faces.

Finally, and this is vitally important, whatever you do under no circumstances should you forget – there’s the timer alarm, got to go.

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