Weekend Work: Time to tackle your roses

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What to do

Split clumps of snowdrops and aconites as they finish flowering and replant the bulbs with bonemeal to encourage them.

If you have not already tackled your roses, do it immediately. Start by cutting out dead wood, then all spindly stems and suckers. That will be enough for old-fashioned roses. Hybrid teas need sterner treatment: follow each stem up from the bottom until you come to a likely looking outward-facing bud and cut the stem off above the bud. That is the tidy way. The quick way is to shear over the top of HT roses with a hedge clipper.

Tired box hedges can be boosted with general fertiliser, such as Growmore or Vitax Q4. Use roughly 50g for every yard of hedge. If box hedges have got hideously leggy, try cutting them back hard, leaving no more than 10-12cms of stem. Feed when they show signs of resprouting. They may not. Box is not so forgiving as yew.

Cut to the ground shrubs such as rubus grown for their coloured winter stems. If you have not already done so, shear off the old foliage of periwinkle to make way for the new shoots now springing up through the dross.

A reader writes

Cyclamen coum are flowering rather better in the garden centre than in our garden. I mentioned in an earlier column how the tubers had gone horribly mushy and Ian Shaw of Bishop's Lydeard in Somerset writes that "it sounds likely to be a bacterial soft rot. Systemic fungicides are therefore ineffective in its control. Some growers have been using a copper fungicide watered on to dormant tubers since this confers a disinfection, albeit only a contact action." Oh dear! It's a bit late for that. Dare I plant more?

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