Bargains that will last for years

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I TOOK my own advice last weekend and headed for Dobbies, my nearest garden centre.

As usual, I went for a bag of seed and potting compost and ended up spending a great deal more – and the staff are lovely.

It had a great 50 per cent sale on (most upsettingly, there was a Fatsia japonica variegata reduced to £10. I’d just paid £20 plus postage on the internet).

Most garden centres have sales at this time of year – they need to clear old perennial stock that doesn’t look its best for new plants.

This is where you can get great bargains – perennials that have naturally died down for the winter.

Check there’s signs of new growth and you will save a chunk of cash.

I did succumb to a non-sale item, a late-flowering Clematis viticella Mme Julia Correvon (£11.99) to scramble over the trellised bit of the hedge in the shady area of the garden.

Actually, once it’s grown, its head will be in the sun while its roots are in the shade, which is ideal for a clematis.

It’s a Group 3 (late flowering) clematis, simply prune this month back to two-three pairs of buds from the ground and you’ll soon get an abundance of new growth.