Q: from Gillian Anderson Just moved to new garden in west of Scotland, complete with underground springs. Lawn actually water logged. Will anything grow here .
A: Hi Gillian – the short answer is yes! You’ll be able to grow lots of moisture-loving plants that I can only dream about in my sandy, dry East Anglian garden. For ideas and inspiration I’d visit gardens locally to see what does well. Try going to open gardens nearby – see http://www.scotlandsgardens.org for a list. If the lawn is impossible to mow, perhaps try replacing it with some groundcover plants that enjoy damp spot, such as sedges, astilbes (http://www.spaldingbulb.co.uk/product/astilbe-mixed1/) and ferns.
Q: from Hilary Doyle Can you suggest some ‘dog friendly’ plants for around my pond please?
A: Hi Hilary – by ‘dog friendly’ do you mean ‘dog proof’?! If so, I’d go for our sturdy, native yellow flag iris (Iris pseudoacorus) which is vigorous enough to withstand the occasional dashing doberman. You could add another beautiful native: purple loosestrife (http://www.spaldingbulb.co.uk/product/purple-loosestrife/) which is covered, as the name suggests, in purple flowers all summer long.
A: Hi Carla – I’d probably wait until they have flowered, so you can see what they are and if you like them! You may find they are beautiful, and you want to keep them, or you may find they’re not to your taste (or, worse, that they are weeds like cuckoo pint (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arum_maculatum). If you like them, then they can be dug up once they have flowered and begun to die back. You can then store them in the shed until you’ve dug over the rest of the garden and you’re ready to re-plant them.
Q: from Liz Hadden I am having problems with my Hibiscus but tried everything just think it’s to cold here North East Scotland .
A: Hi Liz – I reckon you’re right. Hibiscus come from warmer climates than ours and sometimes struggle in cool summers. Why not try tree mallows – Lavatera – instead? There are lots of varieties, including one called ‘Twins Hot Pink’ (http://www.spaldingbulb.co.uk/product/tree-mallow-twins-hot-pink-/) which can be grown from seed as an annual. Good luck!
Q: from Sandra Jones Haynes can you help please, recently finding bits of tree roots in the garden after they have been cut down the roots have spread right under the lawn is there any way we can get rid of them rot them away or something please.
A: Hi Sandra – if the roots are still alive and sending up suckers then it’s going to be a bit like whack-a-mole for a couple of years I’m afraid. The best way of dealing with suckers is to pull them rather than cutting them. With any luck as you pull the sucker off the root, it will come away along with the dormant buds at its base. Otherwise, just keep cutting the lawn as normal, and eventually the suckers will disappear. Be very careful if you try to use weedkiller on the suckers – most weedkillers will kill the surrounding grass too.
A: Hi Maggie – this depends if you’re sowing seed or planting ‘plugs’. For seed sowing, the soil should be broken to a fine tilth – sort of muesli texture, if not slightly crumblier! If you’re using wildflower plugs then these can be planted into existing turf. Remember, if you’re sowing seed, always rake the soil lightly after sowing; and if it’s practical, net the area for a few weeks to prevent birds from eating your precious seeds (this also helps keep cats off, as they seem to delight in rolling on fresh seedbeds!).