Weekend work: Cut back early-flowerers


What to do

Cut back early-flowering herbaceous plants such as the oriental poppy. You can be as vicious as you like with this. Surrounding plants will then have more room for manoeuvre. The perennial cornflower, Centaurea montana can also be cut back hard. It will produce fresh foliage and another crop of flowers later in the season.

Clip over aubrietas and saxifrages to remove dead flowers and some of the straggly growth of aubrieta. If bright yellow flowers on your senecio are going to ruin a colour scheme, get rid of them now.

Keep a watch on populations of aphids. Some infestations, as on the tops of broad bean plants, can easily be dealt with. Snap off the tops, together with the blackfly, and bin them. Meanwhile, greenfly on honeysuckle and roses may need to be sprayed.

Evergreen ceanothus can be pruned now, if it is growing too far out from the wall. Cut back flowered sprays to within a few buds of the main branch. Tie in new growths as flat as you can against the wall. Growths springing directly from the front of the trunk (called, for obvious reasons, breastwood) may have to be dispensed with altogether.

Spring-flowering chaenomeles may also need attention where it is trained against a wall. Tie in some new growths to build up the framework and cut back other lateral twiggy growths to five or six buds.