Weekend work: Time to tidy up plants
What to do
Tidy up plants that you do not wish to self-seed, such as aquilegia. Cut right down to the ground; these will soon produce mounds of fresh, new foliage. Cut out dead flowering stems from pulmonaria and other such spring flowering plants.
Tidy up clumps of iris, cutting out the flower stems and pulling away any withered foliage. Congested clumps can be split up as soon as flowering has finished. Choose plump, fat rhizomes with new roots for replanting and set them so that the rhizome is above the soil, with bonemeal worked into the ground below.
Dead head roses and paeonies. Wet weather causes flowers of many roses to "ball" and rot on the stem before they have even come out. At least you can prevent the dead petals from smothering the buds to come, which may have better luck.
Prune gooseberries as soon as you have finished picking the fruit. The bushes are best grown on a short leg so cut out any growths that are springing from below this leg. Prune to keep the bush open and plenty of space between the branches. The more air that blows through them, the better.
What to see
More than 70 gardens are opening this weekend (Sat-Sun 11-5) to raise funds for The Sussex Beacon, an HIV centre based in Brighton. Most of the gardens are in Brighton and Hove with a few further afield in Rottingdean and Newhaven.
In East Hove don't miss 11 Wilbury Gardens with a magnificent elm (now rather a rarity) as its centrepiece. In the Fiveways and Roundhill area you'll find the Garden House, an imaginatively restored old market garden, complete with chickens. Tickets cost £12. For a full list, go to sussexbeacon.org.uk/opengardens
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