Country & Garden: Weekend Work

NEW SPEARS of hosta foliage will need protecting against slugs. Polyanthus flowers are also getting chewed. Between slugs and sparrows they have a hard time. Black cotton stretched between twigs foxes birds, but is a fiddly bore to set up.

PLANT SWEET peas if you did not do so in autumn or winter. Set three seeds in a four-inch pot, if you want to do it the lazy way. At planting- out time, you can just tip out the pot and plant the seedlings as they are, together.

THIN OUT flowering shoots of mophead and lacecap hydrangeas, cutting a few of the scraggier stems out at ground level. This makes them produce larger flowerheads.

FRESHLY PLANTED evergreens may need a temporary screen around them to prevent the foliage from drying out and browning. Some evergreens recover better than others. Yew can look very sick and still recover. Cypress is not so forgiving.

WELL-SPROUTED early potatoes can be planted where the ground is not too soggy. I am still waiting for my onion bed to dry out sufficiently for planting. Planting is three weeks behind last season. Broad beans, parsnips and peas are all still waiting for the right conditions.