Weekend Work: There is still pruning to be done.

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The Independent Online

What to do

There is still pruning to be done. Young fruiting cherries need their leading branches shortened by half for the first four years. As they mature, take out only wood that has died or whole branches that are rubbing or crossing.

Elders grown for decorative foliage need regular pruning. If you cut all the stems to ground level, you get the best leaves, but sacrifice the flowers. Cut a third of the stems down to the ground each year instead; that way you can have both.

Thin out some of the most densely twiggy stems of the snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus. Lilac benefits from regular thinning out. Take out weak or crossing branches. To rejuvenate an old, overgrown bush, cut the whole thing down to within two feet of the ground. You will not have any flowers for the next couple of years, but the gain is worth the sacrifice.

Continue to plant tulips. They are excellent in tubs and windowboxes, especially the shorter varieties and those with decoratively striped leaves such as the Greigii and Kaufmanniana types.

Miniature tulips, species such as T. tarda or T. whittallii are also charming in troughs and rockeries. They flower year after year, too.

Plant hyacinths in bowls to flower early next year. Leave dahlias and begonias in the ground as long as possible before lifting. The tubers do much growing in the short days of autumn. Lift only when the foliage has been blackened by frost.

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