Weekend work: Time to wake hippeastrum

 

WHAT TO DO

Fiddling with indoor plants is a pleasing alternative to getting frostbite outside. If you have kept hippeastrum (amaryllis) from last year, hoping to bring them back into flower again, now is the moment to wake them up. One by one, bring them in their pots into the house, water them and stand them on a sunny windowsill.

Start forcing rhubarb outside, if you want the palest, most succulent stems. You can buy handsome terracotta forcing pots. Or you can use an upturned bucket. Put the forcer in position and heap leaves all round it, to keep the temperature inside as even as possible. Don't force newly planted rhubarb. Crowns must be at least four years old to withstand this treatment.

WHAT TO BUY

Plan now to include in your garden plenty of plants that will please bees and butterflies as well as you. On poorish soil plant golden marjoram (Origanum vulgare 'Aureum') which will attract the orange-brown gatekeeper. Include viper's bugloss (Echium vulgare) for the buff-tailed bumblebee. The bugloss (T&M £2.49) is a biennial and is best sown May to July.

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