What to do in the garden this week

A bunch of helleborus flowers

A bunch of helleborus flowers - Credit: Archant

Bring elegant brights to your borders this week, plus your guide to growing perfectly red and sweet rhubarb

Some harvested rhubarb stems

Some harvested rhubarb stems - Credit: Archant

Best of the bunch

The nodding flowers of Helleborus give a touch of elegance to the winter and spring garden. These graceful perennials like damp, shady spots in the garden. They flower in early spring, around the period of Lent, and are often known as Lenten hellebores or Lenten roses.

They are ideal for bringing early colour to shady herbaceous borders and areas between deciduous shrubs and under trees. Plant them in heavy, rich, limey soil that won’t dry out in summer months. Their leaves die down in June or July, after which the plants should be kept cool and shaded until they begin to grow again in early spring.

Good enough to eat

Rhubarb is a plant that is really easy to grow, even if you just want a few stems. Plant dormant crowns in early spring in heavy soil with plenty of added organic matter, preferably in full sun so the stems will become redder and sweeter. Plants should be 3ft apart.

Remove any flowering stems which appear in summer, cutting them out as close to the base as you can, then remove dead leaves when the foliage dies down in autumn, adding general-purpose fertiliser to the soil and mulching liberally.

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What to do in the garden this week

:: Water trees, shrubs and climbers in containers if the weather is dry or windy, especially evergreens.

:: Prick out or pot up pelargonium seedlings that have grown from seeds sown last month.

:: Apply a top dressing of gravel or chippings to the rockery to suppress weeds and ensure alpines don’t become waterlogged.

:: Bring strawberries in containers into the greenhouse for early fruit.

:: Prune half-hardy fuchsias being kept under cover as soon as the pink ‘eyes’, or embryo shoots, appear.

:: Sow seeds of tomatoes for growing in a cool greenhouse.

:: Clip faded flowers on winter-flowering heathers.

:: Cut back deciduous ceanothus, buddleias, lavatera and caryopteris quite drastically.

:: Prune later-flowering shrubs now if you want to reduce their size.

:: Lift and divide overcrowded winter aconites.

:: Dig out persistent lawn weeds such as dandelions with a daisy grubber or sharp transplanting trowel.