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Name: Steve Linden Wyatt
Question: Do you have any tips on growing roses over an arch? I have two lovely climbing roses and I know it is early but the cover is not great despite them being there for two years. I have got height just not width.
Answer: Hello Steve. This is a very common problem with climbing roses which love to do just that - climb! If left to grow naturally they will often produce tall stems, but fail to form any shoots lower down on the plant. The result is that the flowering shoots will all be at the top of the plant leaving the lower part of the plant bare and unattractive.
You can encourage your climbing rose to produce side shoots lower down by tip pruning the tops of the stems this spring. The secret to encouraging roses to flower low down on the plant is to train the main stems horizontally (or as close to horizontal as you can), to encourage the dormant buds to break and produce flowering side shoots. This may mean twisting them around their support or criss-crossing the stems so that they are at diagonals to one another. If the stems are not particularly flexible then you may need to settle for just training them up the arch in an hour glass shape. Tie the stems into their support and if possible, tie the top of the stem so that it is pointing downwards. This should encourage much better flowering lower down on the plant. You can also give them a good mulch with some well rotted manure to give them a boost this summer. Hope that helps Steve.
Name: Angela Lee-Smith
Question: A question for Sue's question and answer session. I have cats and use wood capsules for their litter tray indoors when they use it, it turns into sawdust is this any good for making compost.
Answer: Hello Angela. Sawdust is great for your compost heap - treat it as a brown material (such as cardboard or dry leaves) that will add carbon to your heap and balance the nitrogen levels from food waste and grass clippings. However you should only use the sawdust - avoid adding larger wood pellets as these will take much longer to break down. You also need to take care not to add solid cat waste to the pile, although urine will be fine! Hope that helps Angela.