Weekend work: Time to prune elders

 

WHAT TO DO

Elders grown for their 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.

The snowberry, 'Symphoricarpos albus', gets overgrown and overtwigged as it ages. Thin out some of the most densely twiggy stems, cutting them down at ground level.

Lilac also benefits from regular thinning. Take out any weak or crossing branches. If you want to rejuvenate an old, overgrown bush, cut the whole thing down to within 60cm/24in of the ground. You won't have any flowers for the next couple of years, but the gain is worth the sacrifice.

Continue to plant hyacinths in bowls to flower in January and February.

WHAT TO BUY

Miniature tulips, give a fantastic show in bowls and pots outside. Cover the pots with fine mesh wire to protect the bulbs from rodents. Crimson-pink 'Little Beauty', and copper-orange 'Little Princess' are both 12cm/5in tall, and cost £3 for 10, £7 for 25 from Avon Bulbs: 01460 242 177, avonbulbs.co.uk

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