Weekend Work: Time to prick out seedlings

Anna Pavord
Saturday 23 April 2011 00:00 BST

What to do

* Prick out seedlings of vegetables such as peppers, celery and tomatoes. Put peppers and tomatoes into individual small pots. Prick out celery in trays ready for planting out next month.

* Prune hardy fuchsias such as F. magellanica, cutting some of the growths down to ground level.

* Cut back Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian sage), lavatera and Romneya coulteri to within a few inches of the base. Also prune Leycesteria formosa and willows grown for their winter bark.

* Be patient with any shrubs you think might have been killed during winter. Even if top growth has all been cut back, you may find soon that new growth starts to spring from the base. Phlomis is a case in point. Even if all its foliage shrivels miserably in winter, it can still surprise you by producing signs of new life.

* Plant container-grown shrubs, climbers and herbaceous perennials while the soil is still damp. Planted now, they will have a chance to get their roots settled before drier summer weather makes this difficult.

* Prune shrubs such as lavender and cotton lavender (Santolina neapolitana) by cutting back most of last year's growth. Do not cut into old wood, as new buds rarely spring from old stems. Newly planted lavender hedges especially need pruning to encourage plenty of fresh, bushy growth. You should have deadheaded lavender last autumn.

* Deadhead camellias, where this is feasible. The flowers have the disobliging habit of dying on the tree. Camellias do not need regular pruning, but you can trim a bush to shape now, if it is growing in a markedly lopsided fashion.

What to see

Gardens to visit over the Easter weekend include Pat and Mike Sutcliffe's Valley Forge, 213 Castle Hill Road, Totternhoe, Beds LU6 2DA, a half-acre cottage garden that includes a collection of early Leyland buses (1908-1934). Open tomorrow (2-5pm), £3.50. At Overstroud Cottage, The Dell, Frith Hill, Great Missenden, Bucks HP16 9QE, the Brookes' garden on chalk with primulas, pulmonarias and masses of spring bulbs. Open tomorrow (2-6pm), £3.50. A conservatory with proteas, streptocarpus and South African bulbs is the centrepiece of Margaret and Michael Bourne's garden at Long Acre, Wyche Lane, Bunbury, Cheshire CW6 9PS, open tomorrow (2-5pm), £4.

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