Best of the bunch - geum

This sizzling perennial provide a splash of colour before other early summer blooms have emerged, offering shades varying from fiery red to orange and zingy yellow.

Growing to around 60cm (2ft), they look good in the front of borders or in containers or as cut flowers. Some types look good in rockeries and others go well in wildflower gardens.

The popular clump-forming types, which grow to 30cm or more, produce flowers from late May until July and make easy border plants. Their bright colours, particularly the oranges, go well with deep purple plants or dark-leaved shrubs, such as smoke bush or purple berberis, and contrast well against lime green euphorbias.

For more subtle colours, go for new varieties such as 'Totally Tangerine'. Stick to single flower varieties if you want to attract bees and other pollinating insects.

Geums thrive in virtually any soil as long as it's not too dry or too waterlogged, in sun or partial shade. Cut back the old stems after the first flowers have finish to encourage a later display.

Good enough to eat - protect your strawberries

Your strawberries may be a little slow to ripen compared with previous years but be patient and they will make it worth your while, and when you see the high price of Dutch and Spanish imports in supermarkets, growing your own makes good economic sense too.

Now is the time to be taking particular care of your plants, while the fruits are still young. Weed regularly because strawberries are shallow-rooted and can be quickly over-run by weeds if you don't stay vigilant. When the small green fruits form, spread straw or lay synthetic strawberry mats down between the plants, tucking them under the leaves and around the plant collars to stop weeds and protect the fruit from mud splashes, damp and dirt. This is the time you need to water them carefully, watering between the plants as wet strawberries will often go mouldy.

You'll need to protect the plants from birds by either growing them in a fruit cage or using lightweight netting, draped over a framework of canes. Avoid putting nets straight over the strawberries because the birds will peck straight through them.

Three ways to... succeed with asparagus

1. Only plant it if you have room for 30 crowns, or you won't get a big enough crop.

2. Be patient. allow at least three years before you start cutting any spears, and longer if you're growing from seed.

3. Plant crowns in a warm place - avoid frost pockets - on well-drained, fertile soil, soaking them for an hour if they look dry and spreading the roots.

What to do this week

:: Check that containers and hanging baskets aren't drying out. They may need watering every day, even if the sun hasn't been shining.

:: Continue to harden off outdoor tomatoes and courgettes as temperatures rise.

:: Disbud border carnations for larger blooms.

:: Cut back alyssum and aubrieta in the rock garden after flowering.

:: Sow seeds of fast-maturing annuals directly into the ground and thin any seedlings sown earlier in the year.

:: Sow spring-flowering biennials such as forget-me-nots, sweet Williams and wallflowers.

:: Divide early-flowering perennials such as primulas.

:: Lift spring bulbs when the foliage has died down (after about six weeks) if you need the space and store the bulbs in boxes in a well-ventilated shed.

:: Hand weed carefully where seeds are sown directly into the ground, and use a hoe in larger spaces between blocks of plants.

:: Check for powdery mildew and other diseases on plants such as Michaelmas daisies, lilies and peonies.

:: Tie new canes of blackberries and hybrid berries loosely to supports to prevent them from blowing about and damaging the fruiting canes.

:: Take softwood or semi-ripe cuttings of chrysanthemums, fuchsias, herbs and many perennials, to root in the greenhouse.

:: Water peppers and aubergines in the greenhouse regularly and give them a liquid feed every two weeks. Watch out for red spider mite and whitefly.