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Your Gardening queries - 26

June 2005  


Colour for Adventurous Gardeners 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 your gardening queries.


June 2005     

Q:   A reader has a problem with honeysuckle..


I have a large amount of honeysuckle along a retaining wall in front of my home. I have lived here for 2 years, and it has bloomed beautifully. However, last summer a small patch of it died, then recovered. Now, again this year, the same spot has died, but now it is spreading to almost half of the shrub. This year it started to bloom, but never did. It has a lot of drainage. It has been here for about 40 years and is overgrown. Would it possibly help to cut it back, or could it be a disease? 


A:   Perhaps it has an aphid infestation which is destroying the new growth and flowers. Have a close look at it to see if this is so..
Look at the ground surrounding the roots in case there is a subsidence problem.

Shrubs always benefit from a good hard pruning and I suggest you do this anyway to improve its health and appearance.






Q:  Dave`s yukka has frost burns..


I have a large YUKKA about 4ft tall which was put outside too early and the frost has made the leaves go brown and droop. (frostbite) How do you suggest I can revive it please. Cut the top off and start again?


A:   You could try removing just the green parts and waiting to see if new shoots start to appear, which they probably will. Use a sharp knife or saw and make clean cuts back to the original stem of each shoot.

It will look like a pollarded tree though and you might not want to live with it, even on a temporary basis!


Q:  New lawn question: If you were laying new turf in your garden do you need to dig up the old grass?


A:  No you don`t have to, but you will get a much better result if you do remove the old lawn.

Ideally, you would remove the old lawn and rotavate the soil in case it has got compacted. Then add a fertilizer and use a roller to get a level finish, finally laying the new turf.



Q: Lilies: My husband has just been given some outdoor calla lilies. Could you please tell me what area of the garden they should be planted in?
A: I still have the instructions from some I have just planted at home, which reads:

"Plant from March - May in well cultivated soil to which some well rotted compost has been added. Choose a well-drained, sunny position. Plant 5cm deep and 30cm apart, pointed side up, new buds facing upwards.."



Q: From Jean: I have had a cordyline for about 4 years and this year it has a growth coming from the centre, could it be a flower? I have enclosed a picture.


A:  Thanks for the photos, and yes, they are indeed flower spikes appearing.. You will find them quite spectacular. Don`t be afraid to cut them off when they become unsightly at the end of the flowering period.



Q: Patsy has algae problems:


Having moved to a bungalow last July, we have inherited a greenhouse [on the south facing wall of the bungalow]. It is not heated but I have installed capillary matting on the staging which is fed by a trough. I fill the trough twice a day with tap water and open the window and door from 9am to 5 pm or later if it is still warm. I hose the ground with rose nozzle each day too.

My problem is that I am getting moss on some of the soil.

A:  I think you will find that fluctuating temperatures will cause mosslike algae to grow in the seed trays.. If the seedlings are OK I shouldn`t worry about it.. Do take care not to over water the plants.


Q: Busy Lizzie dropping its flowers:

Can you please tell me why our potted Impatiens is losing it’s flowers? It is moist and in a dining room with lots of indirect light.

A:  Newly bought plants have been kept in tip top condition prior to being sold, often artificially `brought on` so they look their best at point of sale.. It is very hard to copy these conditions at home and often the plants tend to look sad after a while..

If it is an existing plant of yours, could the fluctuating temperature of the central heating perhaps be the cause? Some plants dislike being moved too, the Christmas Cactus is one which will drop all its buds when moved, very often from the shop to home. 

Q: Ant nests:

I have enormous red ant hills throughout my entire garden. I have tried
laying ant powder in the nests only to find that another ant hill appears
elsewhere. My entire garden is now covered in nests and I can't seem to
get rid of them....I am even finding them coming up through my patio.

A: We have the same problem which seems to get worse each year.. I have tried ant powder and the `Raid` bait tins, without much success, so have decided to let them be!

I have surfed a few websites and there doesn`t seem to be any one cure. They
do like sweet food though and will enter the house to get to jam, for
instance. So if there is any food about outside you could remove it. If you
put baby powder down outside, they can`t get a foothold, so that may deter
them for a while.

Q: Wisteria query:

I have just bought a Wisteria Sinesis Blue and wondered where should I plant it and how should I take care of it.

A:  Wisterias are twining climbers suitable for walls and pergolas and for growing against buildings. Fully frost hardy, they grow in sun and fully fertile, well-drained soil. Prune after flowering and again in late winter.

If you bought a grafted plant it will flower each year from a young plant, but if it is grown from seed, it could take many years to get to flowering stage and then might have poor flowers..


Previous editions of your gardening queries: 

Edition 1

Edition 11

The new complete book of self sufficiency









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 18

Edition 9 

Edition 19

Edition 10

Edition 20


Edition 21 Edition 22
Edition 23 Edition 24
Edition 25 Edition 26


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..  


       Alan Titchmarsh - How to be a gardener    Amazon Book - The Healing Garden    Amazon Book - RHS Plant Finder 2001 -2002    Amazon Book - "Home Front" in the Garden

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