What to do
In this last freezing wet winter, globe artichokes are likely to have rotted away. If so, Delfland can supply new ones. If your plants have survived, take the opportunity to increase your stock. Drive a spade down to detach an offset from the parent plant and lever each one out with a portion of root attached. The offsets need frequent watering until they are established.
Sow basil inside in pots, scattering the seed thinly on moist compost and covering with glass or clingfilm. Prick seedlings out into 7cm (3in) pots ready to plant outside or keep inside on a kitchen windowsill.
Put cucumber seeds in a polythene bag of damp compost in the airing cupboard. They may germinate within two days. Transfer each seed into a 7cm (3in) pot half full of compost. Top up the compost as the seedling grows.
Hosta spears are already unfurling, making an irresistible meal for slugs, which seem, despite our wildest hopes, not to have been knocked back by the harsh winter. Ward them off, either with pellets or nematodes, which you can water into the soil.
The last flowers of Christmas amaryllis are now dying down messily. It's possible to bring the bulbs back to life for a second flowering next winter, but much depends on how well they have been fed and watered. Keep the plants growing for as long as possible. This autumn allow the foliage to die back, before laying the pot on its side to rest in an airy, dry place. In December, you can repot the bulb, water it and start it into growth again.
What to see
A Spring Plant Fair runs today and tomorrow (10.30am-4pm) at the Waddesdon Plant Centre, Waddesdon, near Aylesbury, Bucks HP18 0JH, with specialist nurseries bringing in plants to make good the ravages of winter. The fair is free, though normal admission charges (£7) apply if you want to see the fine garden at Waddesdon ManorReuse content