This week we've been picking the last of the tulips, and starting on the first of the late spring flowers: dainty geum 'totally tangerine', arching solomon's seal, tiny forget-me-nots and starry blue camassias all help to fill the May flower gap. We've also started to put up supports to help keep the stems of the next crop of flowers straight; in particular we have been using Barney's Patented Sheep Netting System, which consists of wooden posts banged into the ground one at each corner of a horizontal rectangle of wire sheep netting, and little metal hooks (I am sure these have a technical name, but it is obviously not my area of expertise!) at the top of each stake through which the bent ends of the wire can be pushed to support the netting, perhaps two feet above the ground - et volia! - sturdy supports which can be stacked away and re-used year after year. We are conscious of the ammount of plastic packaging that we get through, with bags of potting compost and other items which seem to arrive in very over-wrapped condition, and it is good not to be throwing away lots of plastic netting at the end of each year. Flowers which we are in a particular hurry to stake in this way include the peonies, which are coming into bud now; sweet rocket, which has a habit of flopping over and then growing on wonkily if we do not support it; dahlias, when they are a little bigger; and all the many beds of annuals which have been lovingly planted out by Celia, and which she watches sadly as Ned the dog charges through them in the angry pursuit of birds... The netting not only gives us straight clean stems of larkspur and foxgloves and ammi in time, but it also prevents them from being snapped off by the wild beastie as he courses about defending the garden from avian intruders.