Weekend Work: Time to tend to dormant rhubarb buds

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The Independent Online

What to do

For an early crop of rhubarb, cover tightly packed dormant buds with straw or dry leaves and then put a terracotta pot or an old bucket on top. Anything that excludes light will do. The new pink stems should be ready to pull after a month's darkness.

Every five years or so, rhubarb needs dividing while the plants are dormant. Loosen the soil around the clump and lift it gently. Using a sharp spade, divide the crown into pieces. Each section should have a growth bud at the top and a piece of the rhizome (root) at the bottom. Replant the divisions as soon as possible, before they have a chance to dry out.

Prune deciduous bonsai trees now, while they are dormant. Shape is all-important and you can persuade branches to take a particular form by using copper or aluminium wire round branches.

What to see

Tomorrow (10am-5pm) is orchid day at the Royal Horticultural Society's garden, Rosemoor at Great Torrington, Devon EX38 8PH. It's taking place in the plant centre, where there will be plenty of orchids for sale. Talks on choosing and looking after these aristocrats among plants start at 11am and 2pm and are free. No booking needed. For more info, call 01805 624067.