l Many roses have not lost their foliage at all this winter, which makes pruning seem more daunting, but if you have not already tackled the roses, do it immediately. Start by cutting out dead wood, then all spindly stems and suckers. That will be enough for old-fashioned roses. Hybrid teas need sterner treatment: follow each stem up from the bottom until you come to a likely-looking outward-facing bud and cut the stem off above the bud. That is the tidy way. The quick way is to shear over the top of HT roses with a hedge-clipper.
l Tired box hedges can be boosted with a dressing of some general fertiliser, such as Growmore or Vitax Q4. Use roughly two ounces for every yard of hedge. If box hedges have got hideously leggy, try cutting them back hard, leaving no more than 4-5in of stem. Feed when they show signs of resprouting. They may not. Box is not so forgiving as yew.
l Cut to the ground shrubs such as rubus, grown for their coloured winter stems.
l If you have not already done so, shear off the old foliage of periwinkle to make way for the new shoots now springing up through the dross.
l Summer-flowering bulbs should be planted as soon as possible. Peter Nyssen of Railway Rd, Urmston, Manchester M41 0WX (0161 748 6666) is offering 10 nerines for pounds 2 (plus VAT) and 100 acidanthera for pounds 4 (plus VAT). J Walkers Bulbs of Washway House Farm, Holbeach, Spalding, Lincolnshire PE12 7PP (01406 426216) has a new lily catalogue, offering five 'Citronella' for pounds 5.75 and five top-size 'Regale' for pounds 6.Reuse content