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Name: Sarah Jackson
Question: My contorted hazel regularly sends up ramrod straight suckers from near the base. I keep cutting them out but is there a more permanent solution?
Answer: Hi Sarah, contorted hazels are often grafted on to a vigorous rootstock which produces the suckers you have described. If you can, it’s best to try and buy a contorted hazel growing on its own root system. Unfortunately all you can do is to keep cutting back the suckers annually to help direct energy into the slower growth of the contorted branches. Cut the suckers as close to the point of origin as possible. If it won’t cause too much damage to the tree then tear, rather than cut, the suckers away as this will ensure that dormant basal buds are removed, reducing the chances of re-growth. Best of luck Sarah.
Name: Sherry Bevan
Question: I've had my garden 'redone' and I now have empty borders and an empty vegetable patch at the back waiting to be filled but I don't know where to start. In the past I have successfully grown butternut squash and tomatoes. One of my daughters wants to grow carrots and raspberries. Are these all good for relative beginner to vegetable gardening? Would people recommend I buy a mixed pack of plants for the flower borders? Is there a good tool somewhere I can use to plan what it should look like? Thanks
Answer: Hi Sherry, it’s worth thinking about the fruits and vegetables you eat most! You may find our ‘top ten easy to grow vegetables for beginners’ a useful guide and our ‘top ten easy to grow fruit for beginners’. Raspberries and tomatoes are excellent plants for beginners to try. Carrots need a nice loose soil and results can be disappointing in areas with big populations of carrot fly, which tunnel into the roots and destroy crops. Butternut squash is fairly easy to grow in a fertile, moist soil. With my vegetable plot I dedicate an area to permanent plants such as raspberries, strawberries and herbs and then make sure I leave a few beds free for annual crops such as carrots and broccoli, which I edge with quick-growing salad crops such as lettuce, beetroot and radishes. I would say grow as much as you think you can look after this year and you will soon get a feel for it! Gardening is a bit of a learning process.
For the flower borders, buying a ready mixed pack such as one of our annual collections or perennial collections is certainly an easy way to get started. If you would like a low-maintenance perennial border that grows back each year it’s worth thinking about how you would like the borders to look, maybe drawing a few plans on paper, before rushing into buying anything. A well-planned, coherent design will have a lot more impact than a collection of plants bought at random. This year you could try growing annual plants while you plan a more permanent design. To help you find your perfect plants try using our Garden Plant Selector. I hope this helps Sherry, best of luck with your new garden.