We’ve seen a real step change in temperatures this week, which has inspired me to get out into the garden to do some tidying up. I’ve got quite a few hydrangeas in containers and a lovely one in the ground at the front of the house.

Now is quite a good time to go out and prune them. The dead flowers do give some interest over the winter and some say they protect the new growth from frost.

You should be able to see quite clearly the stems that need attention. Trim them down and this will give way to new growth in the next few weeks. You need to cut each flower stem back to a healthy pair of new buds and wait for the plants to dazzle again this summer. The dried flowers themselves can look quite attractive too and can be used in the house if desired.

If you are local to Clayton and fancy getting your exercise in a National Garden Scheme Garden, then why not book a ticket to visit Pembury House over the next week? Some tickets are still available for March 5, 8, 9 or 12. Stroll among the wonderful snowdrops and hellebores on show. Full details and tickets at www.ngs.org.uk.

I’ve been busy in the greenhouse pruning my overwintered fuchsias, cutting back to one or two buds on each shoot. I managed to keep the temperature up to ten degrees throughout the recent cold snap so many are starting to grow well. Pruning will encourage a bushy growth habit this season. Fuchsias do not like frost and young plants will be killed if they are exposed to it. The same goes for shop-bought fuchsias because they have been grown in temperature-controlled conditions. During the cold months they need to be kept out of the cold. When warmer weather begins, they should be exposed to outside conditions in phases to avoid shocking them.

Initially place them outside during the day and gradually increase the period they are outside over a two-week period. I’ve got a wide range in my garden, some hardy and many not so hardy.

Fuchsias do not grow well in dry conditions preferring their roots to be in moist but not water-logged compost. The larger the container the less often it will require watering.

The basic rule I use for testing if a plant needs watering is to stick my finger in the top 3cm of the soil, if it’s dry all the way down then it needs watering. They are extremely easy plants to look after and so rewarding when they start to flower.

Read more of Geoff’s garden at www.driftwoodbysea.co.uk