1. Lift and divide snowdrops in the green: It’s safe to lift snowdrops once they’ve finished flowering and their foliage has begun to yellow. Split the clumps into smaller clumps but avoid tearing the roots. Replant the bulbs singly at the same depth as they were before.
2. Prune summer-flowering clematis: It’s time to prune Group 3 clematis – those that flower in late summer and autumn. Choose a calm, frost-free day before the plant has started into active growth. Cut them back to a pair of strong buds about 20cm (8in) from ground level, removing all the previous year’s growth.
• You can also prune Group 2 clematis (those that produce large flowers in summer) but don’t prune as hard as you’ll remove flower buds developing on last year’s stems. Instead just remove damaged, diseased and weak stems, cutting back to a healthy pair of buds.
3. Cut back deciduous grasses: Remove spent stems with sharp secateurs, taking care not to damage any new green shoots that are emerging. Top dress with a general fertiliser to nourish the plant roots. Deciduous grasses include calamagrostis and deschampsia. With stipa, simply comb out the older growth with your fingertips.
4. Chit potatoes: Give seed potatoes a head start on the season by chitting them on a bright, frost-free kitchen windowsill. Place the seed potato with its rose end (with lots of eyes) upwards in an egg box and leave it to sprout. The potatoes will be ready to plant out in about 4-6 weeks, once these new shoots are about 3cm long.
5. Check for hellebore leaf spot: This is caused by a fungus and is quite common, attacking most hellebore species. Watch out for round, dead, brown patches on leaves and stems and remove and destroy affected leaves promptly.
READ MORE Subscribe to our online edition