Gardening: Cuttings: Weekend work

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THERE is still ice in the wheelbarrow in the mornings, so we are not so far into spring as we seemed to be in February. Several plants have been caught by frost, especially roses, which were ludicrously far advanced. Gunnera, too, was taken by surprise and its first leaves are now crisp as overcooked bacon. Both will recover.

The rain has been ideal for newly-planted trees. Soak all bare-rooted trees in a bucket for an hour and stand plants in pots to soak in a tray overnight before they are planted. This will keep them ticking over until you remember to water them again.

Continue to plant vegetables when conditions seem tolerable. I have just put in a short row of the 'Catriona' potatoes that I carried down from Scotland last year. It makes long, flattish cream tubers with smudgy puple eyes. The first carrots have also gone in, an F1 variety called 'Nelson' (Suttons, 85p). I shall also grow more 'Bertan' (Thompson & Morgan, pounds 1.69), the best of all last year's carrots.

When daffodil clumps become congested, the bulbs tend to flower less freely. Mark any barren clumps now with a cane to remind you to lift, separate and replant the bulbs between July and September. A generous handful of bonemeal or some proprietary bulb booster added now will help to bulk up the bulbs and encourage them to perform well next season.

Weeds are growing fast. Keep on top of bittercress and groundsel. Both are in flower already and are dedicated procreators.