IN BETWEEN the rain this week, I’ve had some time in the garden.

There were quite a few plants that needed tidying up. I cleared away soggy, collapsed stems from some of my perennials to make the beds look a little tidier. I have a very large hellebore in the front garden and now is a good time to remove and bin its foliage that is marked with black blotches. This will help to limit the spread of leaf spot disease.

With all the wind and rain, always check to see that any small alpines you might have around your plot haven’t become smothered by fallen leaves and other wind-blown debris. If so, clear it away carefully to ensure the plant can survive.

I put in quite a few winter pansies in many containers last autumn and have been pleasantly surprised with the colour they have provided in the bed outside the kitchen. In order to maintain their dramatic display, it is important to deadhead them and any other winter flowering bedding you may have regularly and remove any foliage affected by downy mildew.

If the ground is not too frozen, this might be an opportunity to consider moving any dormant plants that you have, which you now think might be in the wrong place, to more suitable sites

I have a collection of many cacti at home, probably over 50 different ones throughout the house and another small collection in the greenhouse that go out into the garden in the summer. At this time of year, the Monkey Tail Cactus produces the most amazing and delicate flowers.

Its correct name is Hildewintera colademononis and is probably one of my favourites. As I said, it’s commonly known as the Monkey Tail Cactus because its stems resemble the tail of a monkey. They hang from the pot and have a furry look to them. It is native to Bolivia and is most commonly found growing on or between steep rocks hanging above a jungle below.

A single plant can have three to five stems, which branch at the bottom. The plant grows upright for a few feet then the stems become pendant and droop. They produce bright, red/orange flowers that are particularly decorative and which bloom for a few days. The Monkey Tail Cactus does well as a house plant too, preferably grown as a hanging plant. What’s more, it is very easy to look after and watering should be done exclusively during the summer and spring and only when the soil feels dry. Why not give it a go?

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