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Better buys are probably herbaceous perennials to fill gaps in the border. Stand their pots in deep water for an hour before planting. Dig a hole much larger than the pot, and mix peat or compost and a little bonemeal into the bottom. Water this well case of a sudden cold spell.

before placing the plant and keep well watered over the next few weeks.

Now is also a good time to propagate from existing perennials. Many gardeners suffer from "stamp collection syndrome", filling borders with one of each of many different types of plant, which can look very bitty. Pieces can be lifted now from the edges of spreading perennials, and dotted around to fill gaps.

Some hardy geraniums, alchemillas, euphorbias, ajuga, the yellow-flowered creeping Waldsteinia ternata, and the variegated strawberry can all be divided now. Find young shoots around the parent plant, lift carefully with a trowel, and cut the new piece cleanly away from the parent. If the plants look fragile, pot them up and keep them in a glasshouse for a few weeks. Dogwoods, such as Cornus alba elegantissima, which should technically have been pruned a few weeks ago, are just coming into leaf. If they were not pruned, cut some branches for the house, taking them off at the base to encourage new growth.

Deadhead daffodils and narcissus as they go out of flower, but don't remove any of the stem or leaves. A couple of doses of foliar feed on the leaves over the next few weeks will help to build up good bulbs for flowering next year.

Lift and divide snowdrop clumps, splitting them carefully so each bulb has its roots and leaves intact. Replant immediately as snowdrop bulbs hate to be dried out.

Treat grass with lawn feed, and rake and sew seed in the bare patches.