Despite the cold, wet and windy weather, it is a good time to start planting your spring/summer gardens. Enjoy the blooms of azaleas, camellias, early rhododendrons, magnolias, and early flowering cherries, which brighten up winter gloom. Vege Garden Spread fresh compost around maturing winter veges. This helps absorb surplus winter water, while improving the existing soil. Flowering Annuals Winter flowering annuals provide bursts of colour and are at their best right now. Keep “deadheading” (removing finished flowers) to encourage more flowering. You can also plant annuals into pots and containers if your outdoor areas need a little brightening up over winter. Winter annuals include ageratum, calendulas, cinerarias, cornflowers, nemesias, pansies, poppies, primulas, snapdragons, stock and sweet peas. Flowering Perennials Keep planting out new perennial plants and dividing existing ones. Prepare the beds for new perennials thoroughly with fresh compost as these plants may well remain in the same site for a number of years. Spread compost around existing perennials that are not being divided. Pruning Hydrangeas Hydrangeas often grow to a considerable size and require significant pruning. July is the preferred time for pruning hydrangeas, any earlier and the plants can start sprouting in early winter and will be damaged by frost. Remove old wood, reduce younger branches considerably, thin out branches that overlap and remove dead wood. The finished pruned hydrangea should be at least half of the size of the plant before pruning. For more gardening advice or information on the wide range of Daltons products visit daltons.co.nz.