Best of the bunch - Parahebe

Unlike its popular relative, the hebe, you might not find this pretty evergreen sub-shrub at retail chains, but check out local nurseries or online retailers to bag a parahebe.

Parahebes are mainly from New Zealand and more closely resemble veronicas than hebes. They have simple, toothed leaves and small saucer-shaped, four-petalled flowers in loose racemes in spring or summer and should thrive in well-drained soil in sun or partial shade.

Among the most popular is P. catarractae, a spreading plant which grows about 30cm (1ft) high and has white or pale purple flowers with a central crimson ring.

If you want a compact variety which will look great in containers or towards the front of mixed borders, try P. 'Avalanche', a compact variety with deep green evergreen foliage which is smothered by an 'avalanche' of upright flower spikes bearing white flowers with delicate cerise-pink centres in early summer and again in September and October.

It is hardier than other parahebe varieties, to -10C.

Good enough to eat - Peppers

If you're good at growing tomatoes, you should be a whizz with peppers too, and there's a wealth of choice, colours, shapes and sizes from which to choose.

Sweet peppers can be trained easily into neat, bushy plants and yield enough fruits to pay for a prime site in a patio container. They need sowing indoors in March, maintaining a constant temperature of 20C, and when they have been potted on into two-litre pots of compost in May, by June you should be able to pot them on into five-litre pots to produce manageable plants.

When they reach around 20cm high, pinch out the growing tips to encourage bushiness. They can also be planted directly into a greenhouse border or growing bags and trained as cordons.

In July and August, sweet peppers may need some support once the fruits start to swell and you'll need to water the plants twice a day on hot days. When the first flowers form, feed regularly with tomato fertiliser and move the plants to a sunny position outside. Pick peppers when they are ripe, when the skin is still smooth.

Good varieties include 'Gypsy', whose pointed fruits turn from orange to red, and 'Chocolate Beauty', a bell pepper with unusual dark brown fruits. 'Mavras' is also unusual as its fruits start off dark purple but eventually ripen to red.

Three ways to... Make the most of a small garden

1. Carefully position a few vertical plants such as bamboo to give the illusion of divisions.

2. Plant trellis with suitable climbers to divide areas. The trellis can be cut to any size you need.

3. Keep the garden simple if you only have space for a small seating area and a few plants. Select plants with muted shades such as pastels or whites, with a soft foliage effect rather than bright colours.

What to do this week

:: Regularly water newly planted plants, young veg and container plants.

:: Apply and renew mulches to reduce water loss and suppress weeds.

:: Fill gaps in borders with summer bedding to give instant colour to otherwise bare patches.

:: Perk up your lawn by applying a feed using a liquid fertiliser.

:: Thin out aquatic plants and generally tidy up the pond before summer.

:: Prune mature, deciduous shrubs including philadelphus, deutzia and kolkwitzia, once they have finished flowering.

:: Remove faded blooms from rhododendrons and camellias, so allowing the plant's energy to focus on building up buds for next year's flowers.

:: Cut down overgrown lilacs, sawing them down to around 45cm (18in) from the base. A mass of new shoots will regrow and eventually lead to a bushier, better-shaped shrub.

:: Remove suckers from roses, identifiable because the foliage is usually lighter in colour. The suckers should be pulled off the plant at their point of origin on the roots rather than cut off.

:: Remove old leaves and flower stems from hellebores, which start to look tatty once they are over.

:: Cut down the foliage of bulbs naturalised in grass, if at least six weeks have elapsed since flowering.

:: Plant out cannas and lily bulbs, which were potted up when it was too cold to plant outside. They can now be planted in borders.