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Planning Retirement Online

Your Garden Queries - 10


Mary Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?         

With silver bells and cockle shells,                    

And pretty maids all in a row....                     


If only gardening were as simple as that little nursery rhyme. But it isn`t, so we are putting some of the solutions here to problems you have written to us about, so everyone can have the benefit.


Please e-mail me with your garden problems, comments, or ideas for this section of  laterlife.  Click here for previous editions of Gardener`s Diary.



This month`s gardening problems  - February 2004


Q:  Doris from Arizona writes: I live in Az. We recently had a very cold night and although covered my 2 year-old Coral Honeysuckle was damaged. Should I prune it back to the still green leaves or ignore it? What is the schedule for pruning this plant? 

A:  In the UK we would prune either Autumn or Spring. I favour the autumn pruning, so the shrubs don`t look straggly over winter. 

Honeysuckles are very amenable shrubs and will soon recover. However, my advice would be to wait until all risk of frost is over, before pruning your shrub. If you do want to cut out the frost damaged shoots now, you will not harm your honeysuckle as it will grow away once more when conditions are favourable..



Q: from David:  I work at a place with an established  garden which has a layer (not very deep) of bark. Could you tell me the problems if any, I would have and what time of year would be best to do so, if I was to rake back the bark that is there and put down a membrane, as there is not one at the moment ,followed by more bark. I would like to do this as it is only a small company and we seem to spend a fortune on weedkillers and really I would like to avoid using them in the future. 

A:   This will certainly be a worthwhile exercise as you will save time and money in the long term by putting a weed suppressing membrane down underneath the layer of bark..  Without this membrane, weeds will continue to grow through and you may have noticed that the bark seems to `vanish` which indeed it does, as the earthworms pull it down through the soil! 

It would make a great job for sunny January days, or any dry day before the weeds start growing again.. There is no right or wrong time for this job as far as I am aware.. This time of year you may find plenty of cheap bark on offer from companies that have recycled Christmas trees, but don`t be tempted to use this as it will be too green and the sap will poison any plants that it comes into contact with. Any newly chipped bark should be composted for about six months.. So buy from an established merchant and stipulate it must not be new bark.


Q: From Marian: I have a Yukka situated in my lounge which until recently appeared to be thriving. The top leaves are now turning yellow and drying up whilst there is new growth at the bottom of the plant, however some of these leaves are also dying, can you offer me any advice.

A:  Without knowing where you live and what conditions your plant is growing in, it is difficult to make a diagnosis, so I have put some general information here about yukkas, so you can see if you are giving your plant the correct cultural conditions.. 


Yukka is a genus of about 40 species of rosette-forming or woody-based perennials, evergreen shrubs, and erect, eventually spreading, evergreen trees from hot, dry places, such as desert, sand dunes, and plains, in North and Central America and the West Indies. A mature Yukka is a False Palm. It will need a deep, well-drained container which can be moved outdoors in summer. In winter it will require an unheated and well-lit spot. 

Temperature:  Average warmth in summer - minimum 55F in winter. Brightly lit spot. Provide as much light as possible.

Water: Keep compost moist at all times but never waterlogged. Reduce watering in winter. Use soft, tepid water. Misting is not necessary.



Q: John asks:  Please could you tell me the best compost for an indoor yukka.

A: Yukkas need well drained soil, which you will find at your local garden centre or DIY store.. They also need re-potting every two years.




Previous editions of your gardening queries: 

Edition 1

Edition 2

Edition 3

Edition 4

Edition 5

Edition 6

Edition 7

Edition 8

Edition 9 

Edition 10

Please e-mail me with your garden problems, comments, or ideas for this section of  laterlife.

Click here for previous editions of Gardener`s Diary..  



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