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Planning Retirement Online

Your Gardening queries - 17


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.


A selection of this month`s gardening problems  - September  2004    


Q: Jane asks: I have been trying to collect mint plants for homemade wine making, but my plants keeping dying off on me what am I doing wrong? I have been growing the plants in pot indoor in hopes of having the plants all year around.

A: Mint plants really like to grow outdoors and their roots are runners from which new shoots grow. So by restricting them to small pots you are killing them off. Can you plant them in a sheltered outdoor place?

Q: We are considering putting a cement fountain in our fish pond. We live in Minnesota. Do you think there will be a problem in keeping the fountain in the water over the winter? It would be pretty hard and heavy to remove.

A:  It should be OK as these fountains are made to go in water, but you can check with the manufacturer that it is indeed frostproof.

Q: Joann wants to know: Is there anyway a person can grow mint all year around? Like in a greenhouse?

A: You could grow mint all year round on a windowsill or the greenhouse, but if
you are in the UK don`t expect great results as the days are so short, and
the lack of daylight will keep the plants small...  Give it a try.

Q:  Stuart says: I have recently experienced problems with mature cherry trees. This year, the fruit producing buds/flowers withered and the trees were left covered with plenty of leaf foliage with fruit bearing buds. Also, I have
noted several areas on the tree stems producing large amounts of resin
- is this indicative of some cultivation problem or perhaps fungal attack.

A:  Last year was an exceptionally hot summer which seemed to kick-start all
flowering trees this Spring into producing a heavy show of blossom..
Unfortunately we then had a cold wet spell which knocked much of the blossom
off, so it might result in a poor year for fruit..

The resin production normally occurs when the bark has been damaged. Check
those sticky resin spots for any damage done by birds or other wildlife...
Check also for any OTHER signs of ill health on the trunk or leaves


Q: From Mike:  I'd like to grow liriope from seed. Do you just grow it like fescue grass seed? I live in Georgia so we plant fescue in September.
Keep it damp/moist for 3 weeks and it comes up like gangbusters.
Likes the cooler weather in the 60s and 70s.
Is growing liriope like this?

I'd like to have an entire yard with nothing but liriope. No fescue or bermuda. Can I get your ideas and comments on that idea?

 A:  Not being familiar with your climate and soil conditions, I have found you two American websites (below) to look at, which seem to have all the necessary cultural information. From the little I have read, it would seem that the plants bruise and blacken when cut, so I imagine a whole yard of Liriope would look a bit scruffy at times.

I have only seen Liriope planted in smallish swathes, which looks very nice, but I wonder if planting up your whole yard might be a bit overpowering. Without seeing your land, it is very hard to say.

The project might be more expensive than traditional lawn and may not be as hard wearing, or long-lived, especially if you have children/grandchildren or dogs..

If you want more details about liriope, go to:

Q: From Alma:  I have hydrangea which was planted in the front garden in a South East facing aspect two years ago, yet it has not flowered yet.
I moved into into a large container in a sheltered spot, again quite sunny, it's thrived there, lots of growth but no flowers. Will it ever flower?

A: Hydrangeas flower on the previous years growth and often an early autumn frost will kill the newly formed flower buds. Many people prune these shrubs back hard each year, which of course removes the forming flower buds..
Don't prune unless necessary. If you need to prune, remove any dead stems in the spring. Any other necessary pruning should take place immediately after flowering.  Perhaps these could be the problems with your shrub.



Q: A common problem for Aileen: I have a flowering cherry which is about five years old and has not flowered yet. I have noticed red patches on the leaves which then turn into holes. I have also noticed recently the new leaves are curled with small black insects inside, which eventually die [the leaves]. I would be grateful if you could maybe throw some light on the problem and maybe advise me on which products to try to eradicate the problem.

A: Flowering cherries are susceptible to many problems, including cherry virus diseases, canker, twig blight, root rot, powdery mildew, bacterial and fungal leaf spots, aphids and scale. Their bark is thin and easily damaged.

The small insects seem to be blackfly which will suck the sap from new growth and weaken the leaves so they die.

It is difficult to make an accurate diagnosis without seeing the problem first hand. I would be inclined to take a sample of an affected part, complete with some of the insects (all sealed in a polythene bag) to your local nursery or garden centre for an opinion and advice for a remedy..


Previous editions of your gardening queries: 

Edition 1

Edition 11





Edition 2

Edition 12


Edition 3

Edition 13


Edition 4

Edition 14


Edition 5

Edition 15


Edition 6

Edition 16


Edition 7

Edition 17


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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