Gardeners’ Question Time and Spring Social get together

A most enjoyable and informative event at which our 3 knowledgeable guests answered all manner of gardening questions asked by our inquisitive members.

Chairman Ted Perren, Ros Holten and Brian Madders, with a wide spread of expertise and many years of experience between them, dealt expertly with all the puzzles posed and indeed ran out of time before all our many topics were covered.

Here are just some of the valuable tips and tricks given in answer to the wide ranging questions:

  • If your raspberries are not fruiting, check whether you have summer or autumn fruiting varieties before you prune them back. Prune hard back your summer fruiting varieties, as soon as they have finished fruiting. Cut back later fruiting autumn varieties in February. Feed with magnesium sulphate/Epsom Salts to deal with yellowing leaves.
  • Clematis will grow in shady spots if their heads are in the sun. Nelly Moser will flower twice if you are lucky. Feed with FYM in Spring and keep moist. Don’t forget to plant new plants deeply, with the top of the pot about 6 inches below soil level. This will help cope with clematis wilt… and if plants do wilt they should recover after cutting down. Place slates over the roots to keep their feet cool.
  • Prune clematis according to which Group they belong to. Group 1 ( early spring flowerers), if you prune at all, can be cut back selectively as flowering ceases. Group 2, prune back to a strong pair of buds , 2 to 3 feet from the ground, in Feb/March. Group 3 cut back hard in Spring for summer flowering.
  • Azaleas which are losing their flower power may be past their best and in need of replacing with a cutting or new plant.
  • Ground elder is very difficult to eradicate ( surprise!). It is however shallow rooted, unlike bindweed and horsetail. Try to weaken it by constantly digging it up or cutting off the leaves. Wash the roots of any plants removed from an affected border, as even a very small piece will germinate. Try covering the affected area with old carpet for a season. Even Glysophate is not particularly effective on elder.
  • Early cuttings from dahlias will flower in the same year. Dig up and split tubers left in the ground overwinter, or grown in tubs, every 3 years.
  • Prune rambling roses in autumn or during a mild winter. Training horizontally will increase the number of flowers. Prune side shoots back to 6 inches from the main stem.
  • Netting peas is the only effective deterrent to pigeons.
  • Badgers are an increasing pest which will get past normal barriers. Feeding them peanuts might help divert their attention from digging up your lawn ( thanks to Josie for that suggestion… well worth a try in the absence of an effective solution)

With wine and cheese served to those attending , and lots of ongoing discussion about gardening problems, the evening closed on an enjoyable note.