As spring arrives there are two jobs to get on with now: prune shrubs grown for winter stem colour including Cornus, Salix and Rubus. To allow the sap to rise and to see promising young leaves emerge, only to cut them off is wasteful and will reduce the development of young shoots. Cut back also Hydrangea paniculata varieties if you are after sumptuous cones of flower in late summer. The other key job now is to apply fertiliser where it is needed. Sandy soils, low in organic matter, can have virtually no nitrogen. Apply small amounts of growmore or rose food over the root zone of any impoverished plants. Rain will wash it down and importantly, the plant will use the nutrients released to make better growth and flowers. In an attempt to temper the growth of my perennial border, I have fed too little and the plants reflect this deficiency of care. Now is the time to put it right and hopefully they will reward me with a better display later this summer.