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Name: Vicky Read
Question: Hi, I only have pots in my garden, due to having a little dog who likes to dig! Can you suggest what and when I should start planting? I like colour but flowers that don't need a lot of care and attention?
Answer: Hello Vicky. There are lots of low maintenance plants to choose from but remember that anything that you grow in a container will need watering and feeding, so it won’t be completely maintenance free. If you are clever about it you can have different containers that provide colour at different times of the year, and simply move the containers into prominent positions as they come into flower. You can plant perennials and shrubs this spring. Bulbs are best left to the autumn.
Bulbs are excellent for creating low maintenance containers that will give you a long period of interest. For a succession of flowers in spring, try planting them in layers - Daffodils at the bottom, then Tulips, and finally Crocus at the top. Summer flowering bulbs such as Alliums also make a striking display. You could underplant them with something low growing such as Aubrieta .
How about some shrubs for larger containers? Daphne x transatlantica 'Eternal Fragrance' makes a good specimen shrub with evergreen foliage, flowers and fragrance.
Primroses, Dianthus, Armeria and Winter Aconites are also low maintenance and will give lots of colour at different times of the year. Hopefully that gives you a few ideas to get you started. Best of luck.
Name: Anna Simon
Question: When is the best time to plant out cob nut saplings? Thanks.
Answer: Hi Anna. Hazel is really hardy and should establish fairly quickly. You can plant them out any time before the end of March, so long as the ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged.
Name: Catherine Oakes
Question: I was wondering if there was a way of telling what cyclamen are okay for outdoors as I bought some just before Christmas from an indoor market but no label I was thinking outside as the corms not showing on this one and is on the house one I have had for 3 years. Thanks
Answer: Hi Catherine. You may well be right as the hardy species tend to be planted deeper than the indoor ones. The cyclamen that you see growing outdoors are generally Cyclamen coum or C. hederifolium, while the indoor ones are the florists varieties of Cyclamen persicum.
Take a look at these hardy Cyclamen. They produce small flowers in shades of pink and white and are generally smaller in size than the showier indoor varieties which have larger, more colourful blooms. Hopefully this will help you to work out what you are growing. Remember though, that even if they are a hardy variety they will still need acclimatising to outdoor conditions prior to planting if you have been growing them indoors.
Name: Sue Russell
Question: I need to move a magnolia tree - not too big - 7 yrs old. How deep do the roots go - its moving in a straight line in my front garden but further back away from the road - about 15 feet thanks xx
Answer: Hi Sue. That’s a difficult question to answer - a bit like ‘how long is a piece of string?’ The size of the root ball will vary from plant to plant and be largely influenced by its growing conditions and what species it is. Different Magnolias will have different growth rates.
What I can tell you however is how to go about moving your Magnolia. When lifting shrubs, try to choose a cool day to prevent the roots from drying out too quickly. Make sure you water the plant well the previous day and tie in any stems that you can to avoid damaging them during lifting.
Give the main stems a wide berth and aim to lift as big a root ball out as you can manage so as not to disturb the roots. Any large roots that cannot be lifted can be cleanly cut with a knife or saw. Re plant it in its new home immediately. If there is likely to be a delay in replanting then wrap the root ball in a damp a hessian sack to hold it together and retain moisture at the roots. When you re-plant it, dig plenty of organic matter (well rotted manure or garden compost) into the planting hole and firm the plant in. Water frequently, especially in dry periods until the plant has re-established. I would recommend mulching around it as well to retain moisture at the roots. Best of luck with it Sue.
Name: David N Angela Simmonds
Question: Hi having problems with my two peony plants.There about 6years old & they will not flower. Read up on them & tried most advices on them with no luck. Any advice will be appreciated x thank you...
Answer: Hi David. I’m assuming that you are referring to herbaceous peonies and not tree peonies as these have slightly different requirements. It can take 3 or more years for a young plant to become established enough to flower, but yours should really be mature enough by now. Herbaceous peonies should be planted so that the top of the crown is just 5cm (2") below the soil surface. It’s worth taking care not to plant too deeply as this may prevent or delay peonies from flowering.
It’s always worth reviewing their growing conditions. Peonies tend produce the best blooms in a sunny position and won’t perform well in heavy shade. Take a look at the soil it is planted in as a wet soil will eventually cause rot and the plant will struggle - peonies like a humus rich, moist soil that is well drained. I’d also recommend feeding your Peony with a high potash fertiliser in the growing season as they are heavy feeders.
For what it’s worth David, I have always had problems with my Peonies too, and have yet to see flowers after 7 or 8 years. I blame it on the very light soil in my garden which is less than ideal. Sadly I’ve had to accept that peonies just don’t suit my garden.
Name: Karen Lawson
Question: Hi sue, which perennial bulbs can I put in this month thanks xx
Answer: Hi Karen. It’s still quite early but you can start off your Begonia tubers indoors next month. Later in the spring you can plant Gladiolus and Dahlias. You might also like to plant Snowdrops-in-the-green, in preparation for next year. Here’s a handy article that might help you.
Name: Maria Brown
Question: Having serious gardening withdrawal symptoms! Had a baby last year and even though I kept up to my beautiful cottage garden I didn't get chance to clear the hundreds of seedlings. I usually take them to work and pot on for others, mainly ox eye daisy, Achillea both red and gold, forget me nots, cranesbills geranium and oriental poppies are the main culprits. I usually clear it all in October half term but missed the window. When will it be safe to start lifting and also separating larger perennials?
Answer: I know exactly how you feel Maria - I had a baby last January and I barely set foot in my garden for the rest of the year! You can start lifting them and dividing larger perennials in Spring when the soil is starting to warm up. Aim for the end of March and you won’t go far wrong.
Name: Tracey Ashburn
Question: I need to move oriental poppies what's the best way as I fear I will kill them and when. Thanks.
Answer: Hi Tracey. Dont worry - you won’t kill them. Your Oriental Poppies can be lifted and moved this Spring. Simply lift them with a garden fork, taking care not to damage the roots. Shake off any excess soil before replanting them in their new positions. Make sure that you replant them immediately to prevent the roots drying out, and give them a good long drink afterwards to help settle them in. It really is that simple!
Name: Marie Kate Shepherd
Question: I want to introduce some fragrant climbers to jazz up boring fence panels. Are there any that look attractive when in their dormant season?
Answer: Hi Marie. Your choices are a bit limited but there are a few options. For winter interest you might like to go for an evergreen climber. Clematis will offer you the most options. Clematis armandii is a great choice and its fragrance is wonderful in spring. Clematis napaulensis also makes an interesting choice. This winter flowering variety has scented blooms and carries its foliage from autumn to spring, before shedding its leaves in summer. For this reason it is best grown with another deciduous climber to hide its bare stems in summer. Or maybe Clematis ‘Fragrant Oberon’ although this will need a sheltered spot.
Another option is Trachelospermum jasminoides. This is a stunning climber that seems to be growing in popularity and its fragrance is sensational. I hope that gives you a few ideas.
Name: Ann Olson-Neumann
Question: My Plum & Triple (on one tree) Pear are due end March. What shall I get in preparation for planting.. Can't remember how deep to dig, especially on the Pear tree. Should it be just below the grafting point? I purchased these fruit trees from your good selves.
Answer: Hi Ann. Here’s a handy article that will tell you exactly how to plant your fruit trees. You might want to get yourself a bag of well rotted manure and a tree stake and tie for each tree before your trees arrive.
When you plant them make sure the tree is at the same level that it was planted in the nursery (the soil mark on the stem should be obvious) and the grafting point will be above ground. This video that I made might help you!
Name: Julie Bartlett
Question: My two pear trees have cedar rust; they produce fruit but drop them before they ripen, what we can do to cure them.
Answer: Hi Julie. I would be surprised if they were suffering from Cedar rust. This tends to affect members of the Malus family (Apples) but not Pears. Are there any further symptoms other than fruit drop?
You haven’t mentioned whether the fruits actually reach maturity or not before they drop. If the tiny fruits are falling early in the season then this may simply be what is known as the June fruit drop. This occurs in many fruit trees because they set more fruit than necessary, so some of the crop is naturally shed.
It’s also important to note that pears benefit from a period of storage for a few days before eating as they will continue to ripen after harvesting. I’m afraid it’s difficult to help you without further information. If you could describe the symptoms in a bit more detail or provide a photograph of them then I would be happy to take a further look.