Weekend Work: Put in Brussels, sow annuals and thin bamboo

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The Independent Online

What to do

* Put in Brussels sprout plants. Choose plants that have been grown in the open ground if possible. They make straighter, tougher plants than seedlings grown in trays.

* Split up large clumps of primrose and polyanthus, tearing the clumps apart into several separate crowns with roots. Replant the pieces in fresh ground with a handful of bonemeal to speed them on their way. Seeds of either can also be sown now in pots of compost. Cover with inverted empty pots which will let in enough light and air for the seeds to germinate but which will prevent the compost from drying out too fast.

* Cut out frost damaged or dead wood from abutilons. These fast growing shrubs often get too big for the space allotted to them. You can keep them under control by cutting back two thirds of each new shoot any time over the next month.

* Pieris can also be cut down to size if necessary after they have finished flowering as they usually break quite easily from old wood.

* Thin out congested clumps of bamboo by cutting away old canes at the base.

* Clip away scorched leaves from bay trees growing in pots and refresh the compost by scraping away the top couple of inches and replacing it with fresh material. Feed bay trees regularly through the summer.

* Continue to sow annuals where they are to flower outside. After a night's rain had conveniently damped down the soil, I put in two packets of eschscholzia, the Californian poppy, 'Fruit Crush' (Thompson & Morgan £2.19) and a pale variety with pleated cream flowers called 'Buttermilk' (Thompson & Morgan £1.99). I sowed them among the bearded irises growing on the bank. They would look equally good in rows between leeks in a vegetable garden.

What to see

* Wildflowers are particularly wonderful now (though the blackthorn moment earlier on was spectacular too). To find information about and directions to the 40 best wildflower meadows in Britain, download the guide put together by the country's wildlife trusts. Go to wildlifetrusts.org.uk and look under Wildflower Meadows