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Q&A - Question & Answer about gardening

Gareth Richards - Q&A Gardening-w850Q: Susan Purse – I always have plenty of flowers on my rowan (chinese lace) but never any berries, any reason?

A: Hi Susan, Plants can sometimes fail to produce berries for a number of reasons. Late frosts can damage flowers and they’ll fail to set. If the weather is very dry after flowering time, the plant can sometimes abort the young berries, meaning you’ll get no display later in the season. You can’t really do much about late frosts, but do make sure your plant gets enough water at (and after) flowering time.

Q: Cari Jone  – Hi Gareth, my orange blossom got such bad blackfly last summer, it killed the stalks quite a way down. I normally spray flowers with fairy liquid but this didn’t work on this plant. What can I do??

A: Hi Cari – I’d keep a close eye on it next year, and be prepared to act as soon as you see the first signs of infestation. Normally blackfly problems start as infestations on the shoot tips – if you act promptly you can solve the problem by trimming off the shoot tips, blackfly and all. As an added bonus your plant gets a light prune and stays nice and bushy! Bin or burn the trimmings. If the blackfly are on flower buds I’d recommend using an organic insecticide. As for all pesticides, make sure you follow the instructions on the packaging.

Q: Clare Madderson – Hi do I need new soil in my pots for my new plants? Also can you move a hydrangea from one part of garden to another.

A: Hi Clare – Yes, it’s always best to use fresh compost, as old compost will become exhausted and won’t give your plants the nutrients they need. If the pots are really big it’s ok to just replace the top half of the compost. Yes, you can move hydrangeas. It’s best to do it in the winter or early spring before the leaves emerge. Get as large a rootball as you can, and cut the top growth back by at least a third.

Q: Chris Ashcroft – Is Fallopia, (Russian Vine) too invasive for a screen bordering us from my neighbours garden?

A: Hi Chris – Depends how much you like your neighbours!! Generally I never recommend Russian vine for domestic gardens, it’s far too vigorous. If you’re looking for a strong-growing plant, try one of these clematis:

Clematis montana – a quick-growing clematis with lots of lovely pink flowers in spring.

Clematis armandii – another vigorous clematis, it has the advantage of being evergreen too. Pink, scented flowers in spring.

Q: Penny Franklin – I have planted daffs, iris and tulips in pots with drainage on the patio. I added grit to the compost.Are they likely to rot off in all this wet weather or are they hardy enough to survive and flower without being moved into a sheltered greenhouse

A: Hi Penny – These are all really hardy plants so will be just fine outside, as long as there are drainage holes in the bottom of the pots! Spring bulbs generally need a period of cold weather to break their dormancy, so don’t be tempted to bring them inside too soon. It’s fine to move them once you see the first signs of flower buds if you want to appreciate them close up in the shelter of your greenhouse.

Q: Tracy Anne Lock – We are looking what to plant in the back with our 5 neighbours.

A: Hi Tracy – one plant that almost everybody loves is an apple tree. They have gorgeous spring blossom, you’ll be eating the fruit within a year or two, making communal crumbles in five years and maybe in 20 years you could have grandkids climbing it!

Better still, plant a mini-orchard, so you can all enjoy lots of different varieties.

Q: Peggy Sue Langdown – Any suggestions for summer colour in a NW facing shady garden? Preferably perennials rather than annuals. Thanks.

A: Hi Peggy Sue – Yes, don’t despair! Lots of lovely things grow in the shade, try Japanese anemones (Anemone x hybrida), or Astilbes if your soil is not too dry. Many hydrangeas will do well with some shade, such as these: Hardy geraniums (cranesbills) are great for shady spots – try Geranium macrorhizum, which has lovely scented leaves and soft pinky-white flowers.

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