The French bred Hydrangea paniculata Vanilla Fraise has done me proud in its seven years in our garden. Its pink flowers are a constant throughout the summer, never the star of the show but a reliable understudy. That is until the present time of year when the robust flowers turn a seasonal rich pink, almost purple, immune to the odd touch of frost. I placed it in the largest pot in my collection, under-planting it with snowdrops. The trouble is that in order to show off the spring flowers I have to choose a time, before butchering it with secateurs. But it is far too early for that.

Decisions on when to prune herbaceous plants is a tough one though a silver lining emerged when I cleared our perennial geraniums to reveal a number of autumn flowering Crocus Speciosus Conqueror. And seedling cyclamen galore.

Autumn flowering cyclamen hederifolium are just dying out now albeit one or two specimens have not been informed of their demise just yet.

And I had better make a call for the Rudbeckia that still flower and send out new blooms, sadly destined never to flower if the weather forecasts are to be believed. Summer still exists in our garden as long as they bloom.

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