It’s time to plan ahead for the winter of 2015

Snowdrops at the height of their flowering.
Snowdrops at the height of their flowering.
Leptospermum scoparium also known as Snow White Tea Tree. An evergreen shrub with small white flowers.

GARDENING: Your questions answered and tasks for the week ahead

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It’s amazing how many beautiful flowers are in the garden this week, despite the wettest winter ever.

It’s good to see the Chinese witch hazel is still in bloom and looks wonderful against the balustrade alongside the steps leading down to the back garden.

The perfume is heavenly and there is competition between the witch hazel and Daphne Jacqueline Postill on the opposite side of the steps, the Daphne has a very strong perfume, you would never believe that such tiny white and pink crystalline flowers could smell so sweet.

Both of these shrubs are slow growing and they have a naturally beautiful shape as long as they are pruned as soon as the flowers fade. It is very tempting not to prune because they are expensive and it seems a pity to cut off any of the branches.

If pruning is done as soon as the flowers fade, cutting back all the flowering stems by half, both shrubs respond by growing rapidly and guess what? The new growths come into full bloom at this time next year.

Our snowdrops have been excellent in the front garden, lovely drifts underneath a Leylandii hedge, everyone loves them. There are also a few winter aconites. These are like large buttercup flowers with a frill of curled foliage surrounding the blooms.

We both love these gems and have just sent away for Snowdrops and aconites in the green. You will see adverts in gardening magazines but be careful, the postage cost can be quite high – although several firms supply them post free.

If there is a street market near you it may be possible to buy snowdrops in the green.

These seedlings are usually in roles of newspaper.

Quite often the flowers have faded by now and the foliage may be limp because they have been hanging around.

Give them a good soak in water and after half an hour plant them into the garden.

Snowdrops are best planted as a group or as a drift. Plant them with a trowel two to three inches between each bulb and so that the white part on the leaves is about an inch below the surface of the ground. This will ensure the leaves won’t wilt.

Did you know that snowdrops have long roots? The bulbs are so tiny, all sorts of creatures including humans try to steal them. The deep roots anchor the bulbs into the ground making it difficult for them to be extracted.

If you buy snowdrops or winter aconites in the green and plant them now they will be in bloom every day in February next year and if planted as suggested, nice and deep, they will be enjoyed forever!