I have a small patch of instant plants in a corner of the garden for just this purpose. When there is a gap, I can go down and choose a victim for transportation. Pansies and violas are useful for this. If you keep a good stock of mixed colours, there is usually something to fill a hole where perhaps early spring bulbs have left a space.
l Some of the early brooms, such as the lemon-flowered Cytisus praecox, have already finished flowering. Trim the soft, young shoots with shears to keep the bush compact. Genista can be treated likewise.
l Prune mahonia if it is getting leggy by cutting one or two of the tallest stems by half.
l There is still time to sow fast-growing annuals outside. Try cornflowers or Virginian stocks. The old cottage garden plant, sweet mignonette, will also fill gaps quickly. Soak the ground if it is dry, scatter the seed on top, then sift Levington compost thinly over the seeds.
l Be generous in planting up windowboxes. To succeed, they need to be lush. Try two different kinds of yellow pansy with yellow-spotted tolmeia and lime-green helichrysum for bulk. Or try using dark bronze bugle with pink verbenas, lime helichrysum and deep pink busy lizzies.
l Feed and water tubs and windowboxes regularly with liquid feed. Remember that coir composts are hungry and need extra attention. Where vine weevils are a problem, invest in the new compost now available, which has a magic anti-vine-weevil ingredient added to the mix.
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