Some tips for end-of-the year gardening...

* Going away? Group pot plants together so it makes it easier for a friend to water them. Most indoor pot plants can be left outside, but will need shelter from direct sun, heavy rain and wind with a covering of shade cloth.

* An old-fashioned cottage favourite, the blanket flower (gaillardia), can be relied upon to cope with the hottest weather. Apart from the typical sunset shades, gaillardias now come in plain colours of lemon and red.

* If you like vibrant and bold colours and plants that withstand heat, you can’t do better than brighten the garden with bold groups of celosia (cockscomb) with silky, feathery plumes of pink, gold, orange, red or maroon.

* Mature trees can give too much shade. Sometimes all that is needed is a little judicious cutting back of the lower branches to allow light to reach plants or lawn.

* Fill pots and hanging baskets on patios with plants in colours to match your cushions, tablecloths and crockery. Pots of scented flowers on patios and paved areas add to the enjoyment of sitting outdoors. Position containers of scented plants near entrances to welcome visitors, and under windows to allow the perfume to drift indoors.

* Tripods positioned towards the back of flowerbeds are useful for supporting annual climbers. When placed at intervals down the length of a vegetable garden, tripods add a vertical dimension, as well as additional space for growing climbing vegetables. - Saturday Star