NOW IS THE TIME TO…
● Make sure your secateurs and loppers are properly sharp, then reduce summer-flowering shrubs like buddleias and lavateras to within 30cm of the ground to contain their size and promote more flowers. Russian sage (Perovskia) and hardy fuchsias should also be pruned, along with colourful winter stems, such as dogwoods (Cornus) and willows. Now’s also the time to reduce smoke bush (Cotinus), Paulownia and Catalpa so they produce showy big leaves later in the summer – a really easy way to add an exotic note to the garden.
● If your garden is chilly o.r your soil heavy, plant roses now. Avoid planting where a rose was growing before, so there’s no risk of replant disease. If you haven’t yet pruned your existing roses, do it now. Cut out any spindly or crossing stems, along with anything dead, damaged or diseased, aiming to create a balanced, open shape.
● Check variegated evergreens for any all-green shoots and snip them out.
● Spread a good, thick coat of mulch (at least 5cm) on to your borders. Composted bark gives a neat surface; stable manure adds welcome welly to the soil; while mushroom compost will make everything grow like gangbusters – but it’s limy, so don’t use it around acid-loving plants such as rhododendrons.
● Staking is one of those ‘stitch in time’ jobs. Do it now while plants are tiny; leave it too late, and it will be a fiddle and the plants never look quite right.
● Honeysuckle soon becomes a horrible tangle if left unpruned so, as the stems come into bud, check to see which ones are alive and cut out the ugly dead wood.