Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Agnes Stevenson: Bunch of selfish so-and-sos! My plants are acting like petulant pets

© ShutterstockOut come the clippers
Out come the clippers

The white rhododendron that grows by the steps has been glorious for several weeks but now its pink-tinged flowers have turned brown, so I’ve been snapping them off in handfuls every time I pass.

I do this with all the rhododendrons, not just because their dead flowers are unsightly, but because preventing them from setting seed directs energy back into the plant.

Where it has leapt the fence Rhododendron ponticum has invaded woodlands and covered hillsides, smothering native plants and causing loss of habitat for wildlife, so I keep mine in check by clipping them into giant orbs and removing any flowers that appear before they have a chance to seed themselves around.

Another reason for removing the flowers is that these are toxic to bees.

Fortunately in early summer there are many other more appealing flowers for bees to forage from, including roses and peonies. In my garden the buds of the climbing rose A Shropshire Lad are just about to open.

I bought this rose to cover a wall but then changed my mind and have planted it in one of the borders, where I’ve bent its stems over and pegged them down to encourage as many flowers as possible.

It may ultimately prove too vigorous for this treatment, but part of the fun of gardening lies in experimentation and working out what you can get away with.

© Shutterstock
A honey bee goes foraging

Not all these experiments will have the desired results. Two acanthuses, grown in very large pots, have struggled to come back after winter. These large plants, which have dramatic leaves and tall stems of white and purple flowers, don’t like being confined so I’m going to have to give up my attempt to grow them on the patio and find a spot where they can sink their roots into deep soil.

By contrast, the Mexican fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus) is flowering its head off in the container where I housed it temporarily and where, at times, it has been both saturated and starved of water, yet it has steadfastly refused to establish itself in the drystone wall which offers it perfect growing conditions.

I now know how cat owners feel when their beloved pet turns up its nose at an expensive new bed and continues to sleep in a discarded shoe box.

It’s the same with the peonies which, after having been moved three times in two years, are having a bit of a sulk, despite enjoying a sunny position.

By now the garden should have been filled with their delicious scent, but instead they are making me wait another year to enjoy their ruffled petals. I keep telling myself it will be worth it.

Experimenting is fun but it also brings frustrations. Just ask gardening guru Agnes Stevenson, who this week finds her patience is being tested to the limit