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 are very 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.
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. Prune mahonia if it is getting leggy by cutting back one or two of the tallest stems by half.
Gardening Which? has just brought out a very clear new Guide to Successful Pruning (Consumers' Association/Hodder & Stoughton pounds 16.99). Eight different methods of pruning are clearly described at the front of the book. Then follows an A-Z telling you which technique you ought to be applying to what and when.
There is still time to sow fast-growing annuals outside: cornflowers, Virginian stocks. The old cottage garden plant, sweet mignonette, will also fill gaps quickly. Soak the ground if it is dry, scatter seed on top, then sift Levington compost over the seeds.
Feed and water tubs and window- boxes regularly with liquid feed. Remember that coir composts are hungry and need extra attention. ICI recommends that its new coir liquid feed be used at least every two weeks.
There were precious few window- boxes competing at Chelsea that I would like to look on every morning, but there was one very jolly one using two kinds of yellow pansy, one very buttery, the other more lemon, with yellow spotted tolmiea and lime- green helichrysum.
Another window-box had dark bronze bugle hanging in swags over the front. I had not seen the plant used in this way before and it was very effective. With it were variegated ivy, verbenas in various shades of pink, the lime helichrysum again, a geranium with dark, variegated leaves, deep-pink busy lizzy, felicia and brachyscome. That sounds a lot to pack in a window-box, but if they are to succeed at all, they need to be lush.Reuse content