Q. I need some information on how to plant
a hawthorn hedge.
We have loads of hawthorn trees and I was wondering can I cut snips of them and
when is the right time to do it.
A. Mid to late summer with semi-ripe cuttings
in a 50:50 sand/peat or soil mix in the shade. An open coldframe would be a good
place to strike them.
My bluebells have come up blind is this because they are planted too deeply?
A. Could be that or maybe they
weren't big enough to produce flowers this year. This can also happen if they're
in too dark a position and so don't get the opportunity to build up reserves for
the next year after they've flowered. I'd give them a general feed about now, gromore,
blood fish and bone meal, you could even wash it in with a dilute liquid feed too
as long as the grounds not too soggy.
is bearing fruit this year. can I eat them?
A. Can you eat them? Yes. Would you want to
eat them? Probably not, it's unlikely they'll be properly developed and ripened
in this country, it's also more likely they'll be an ornamental variety grown for
flowers than a variety grown for fruit - worth a nibble though.
Q. How and when do Cytisus
lena & broom require to be pruned, how much to cut. My ones this year have outgrown
all the plant specifications and are almost double the size Help, your assistance
will be greatly appreciated. Also any tips on gardening books to cover gardening
They should have been pruned immediately after flowering as they flower on
the recent year's growth. I guess if that's not been happening it'll explain why
they're so big.
Could you prune them now? I'm not sure I've never left it so late! Large old
brooms don't grow again from old wood and are usually replaced rather than successfully
renovated. If you do nothing now, they'll almost certainly flower again next year,
but be even bigger, but then you can prune after flowering but don't cut into old
wood. If you prune now, they'll probably flower again next year, though may resent
the disturbance and sulk for a year. In any case brooms are fairly short lived and
yours sound like they might be getting ready for replacement.
I suppose it'll be a balance between how much space they take up and how much
you like them when they're in flower.
Gardening books - If you only
buy one the RHS encyclopedia of gardening is the one to go for, not cheap but great
value. I'd also recommend the RHS book of Pruning and Training, but it's out of
print. If you've a mature garden it's one of the most useful books you could have.
Q. My wife appears to have
green thumbs! every year she finds a new fruit seed to plant "just in case I can
grow a plant from it", and the damn things keep coming up!
We now have a 4ft high date palm,
grown from a Christmas date stone 2-3 years ago. The problem is, it no longer fits
in the house. How can we protect it from the typical English winter weather, please?
To be sure of keeping it alive it needs to be in a greenhouse or conservatory,
they're not really outdoor plants in the UK.
If you've no choice but to put it out, then place it in the warmest and sheltered
part of the garden possible, facing South, South West ideally and not in a frost
hollow. When the frosts start it should be wrapped in bubble wrap or similar, tie
the leaves together and cover the pot, stem and leaves. You can use straw held in
place with string and provide an outer layer of an old reed mat or similar as bubble
wrap isn't very pretty.
They are hardier the larger they are, though 4 feet is still a small one by palm
standards. Realistically I don't expect it to survive well, if it does, then see
it as a bonus.
Our camellia as something like soot on the leaves please could you tell me what
I should do is there a cure for this and what could the soot like stuff be?.
A. The soot is probably something called "sooty
mould" it's a fairly harmless fungus that usually grows on honeydew secreted by
aphids, on the leaves below where they drip it. The fungus is unsightly and stops
light and air getting to the leaves but doesn't attack the plant in any other way.
It's rather unusual at this time of year (April) as there aren't many aphids
around, if your plants are under cover though there's likely to be more of them.
There is no direct cure, but spraying the aphids will usually remove the
cause of the problem and then it's a case of spraying the plant leaves with water
to remove the honeydew and the remaining mould.
WARNING - if your Camellias
are under cover, don't spray the leaves directly with water from the tap, the chances
are it will be pretty cold and may well cause them to drop their flower buds. If
possible, don't spray them at all until after they've flowered, if you must, use
water from a can with a fine rose that has been left by the plants for 12 hours
or more to reach the same temperature before use.