WEEKEND WORK

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The Independent Online
Prick out seedlings of vegetables such as peppers, celery and tomatoes. Put peppers and tomatoes into individual small pots. Prick out celery in trays ready for planting out next month.

Prune hardy fuchsias such as F. magellanica, cutting the growths down to ground level. Cut back Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian sage), lavatera and Romneya coulteri to within a few inches of the base. Also prune Leycesteria formosa and willows grown for their winter bark. Be patient with any shrubs you think might have been killed by the winter freeze. Even if top growth has all been cut back, you may find soon that new growth starts to spring from the base. I am still hoping that a big phlomis is going to pull through in our garden. All its foliage shrivelled miserably this winter but, as yet, there has been no sign of new life.

Plant container-grown shrubs, climbers and herbaceous perennials while the soil is still damp. Planted now, they will have a chance to get their roots settled before drier summer weather makes this difficult.

Prune shrubs such as lavender and cotton lavender (Santolina neapolitana) by cutting back most of last year's growth. Do not cut into old wood, as new buds rarely spring from old stems. Newly planted lavender hedges especially need pruning to encourage plenty of fresh, bushy growth.

You should have deadheaded lavender last autumn. Young plants of cotton lavender respond well to hard pruning, but old scraggy specimens do not. If you have an overgrown plant, it may be better to replace it with a fresh one.

Deadhead camellias, where this is feasible. The flowers have the disobliging habit of dying on the tree. Camellias do not need regular pruning, but you can trim a bush to shape now, if it is growing in a markedly lopsided fashion.

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