What creeper can l grow against a south facing fence, on a dry bank?

Suggestions included Clematis/Passion Flower/Clianthus Puniceus and large leaf attractive Ivy.  


1.I’ve got a patch of ground on the north side of my house, about 3m x 4m – it gets a tiny bit of sun over the roof in the mornings. The previous owner grew ornamental cabbages there which seemed to do OK but they’re not really my thing. I’ve tried growing shade-tolerant grass, but it hasn’t thrived. Have you any ideas for what could be grown healthily and tidily? Thanks.

2. Just out of interest, if you could only grow one genus of plant what would it be?? (and why?)

Larry immediately said Wallflowers, Martin loves Bramley Apples for the long term and Salad Crops for the short term and Roger stated that for him it would be Rhodedendrons.


1.I have a laburnum tree that is quite large and well established although it didn’t flower as profusely as in past years. The tree looks reasonably healthy apart some of the top branches where the leaves have turned bright yellow. Will it survive?

The experts reminded us that plants do have life spans and during the discussion Vickie also said that she had a honey fungus in the soil in a previous year.  The panel stated that this can remain in the soil and spread so this could be having an effect on the tree.

2.The last three hot summers seems to indicate that we are experiencing global warming. Should we embrace this and plant exotic fruits and shrubs, if so what would you recommend?

The panel reminded us that are seasons are very changeable and year on year we do need to consider how we garden and try to grow plants to suit the local environment.  There was also a discussion about our winters and how that season could effect any exotic plants we choose to grow.

3. I tend to lift spring bulbs that have flowered and died and store them in s dry space for the next year. Not all survive, they go soft but most over winter well. How long can you keep doing this before the bulbs stop flowering? 


1.Which are the most prolific annuals ?

2. Are there any evergreen shrubs or plants,which flower in the winter & the summer ( June/July/August )?

There were a number of suggestions including Midsummer Beauty (a Hebe), Viburnum Tinus, Coronilla or Jasmine Humile

3. When one is "dead-heading" where exactly on the plant should this be done & is the process different for different plants ? (Demo would be appreciated )

4. Is there a small (say 4-5 ft ) scented jasmine ?

5. Are ceramic pots better than plastic ?


I have a problem starting very fine seed — lobelia, mimulus are a few, any suggestions? 

A number of suggestions were forthcoming – firstly to mix 1 tsp of fine sand with the seeds and spread over soil in a seed box and water well.  Secondly to sow under a layer of perlite which will scatter the light – this is especially good for lobelia.   The club members were reminded that a general rule for planting is that the bigger the seed the deeper it needs to be sown and that is often best to stand your pots of soil in water first before planting seeds.


1.How should I look after my soft fruits?  My redcurrants and whitecurrants very rarely fruit and do not give an abundant harvest when they do fruit.

2.What are the best grasses to grow near a pond edge – both close to the water and on the surrounds away from the water itself.


1.How and when is it best to control bindweed and is it best to control it when it is wet or dry?

Unfortunately, the best way to deal with bindweed is to spray with Round up at least 2 or 3 times.  If it is covering the ground, then the panel suggested that you use a systemic weedkiller.  Systemic weedkillers are neutralised as soon as they touch the soil.  For persistent bind weed it was suggested that the weedkiller be placed in a little cup and the top leaves get dipped in the cup and soaked with the weed killer.

2.Any hints on how to rescue a clematis that started well and then died?  (Clematis Wilt?).  It happened to a number of plants in different parts of the garden so is there a root cause and should clematis be planted again in the same spot?

3.With blackfly on a number of bean plants – how is it best to get rid of this pest?

4. If a fir tree is kept in a pot how much should you water them?

5.With a glorious display of pansies and begonia in the front border should I water them when they are in flower?


For the second year running, vegetables on my allotment have been afflicted by blight, going from a healthy to an extremely unhealthy state very suddenly and rapidly.  Last year broad beans, celery, French beans, beetroot and potatoes were affected.  This year broad beans, shallots and spinach.  I assume spores blow from other plots – or am I the person creating them?  Is there anything I can do to protect the crops?  I never grow crops in the same place from one year to the next.  Any advice would be gratefully received.

There was a long discussion with the panel and the club members in response to this question which centred around giving the right advice without seeing the plot and whether it was blight that was affecting the vegetables as blight is usually associated with just potatoes.   Stephanie also explained the position of her plot and mentioned that it was very heavy clay soil.   The condition of the soil could be improved by digging in grit or some form of organic matter although Stephanie had been breaking up the soil over the 3 years since getting the plot and the use of poly tunnels was suggested to protect the crops.


1.Is there anything that will kill bind weed but will not harm a well-established hedge?

2.We have been trying to prune old apple trees, which we have done the last few years, however we are not getting the amount of apples and one tree only half of the tree is producing fruit. What are we doing wrong.

Apple trees should be pruned from Jan to Mar although it was queried whether these trees were grafted trees.  The members were reminded that trees do have good and bad years where they may no fruit as well.   There was a further discussion that we may be able to have a pruning workshop for the club members and this is now being considered.


1. We dead head daffodils and roses but what about peonies, irises, rudbeckia etc?

2. Not so much how to prune but when. Are there any general rules but if not what about philodendron, hydrangeas, roses etc?

3.In general do grasses need any maintenance - trimming or tidying?

Grasses need to be cut down through February and March unless they are evergreen in which case the flowers and dead leaves need to be removed.

4. Smoke tree - Ours has a surface ‘mould’ spotting and now some of the upper branches are dying back. It hasn’t been properly pruned for years so maybe it needs some tough love ?


1.I have a lot of angel trumpets and they are being eaten by a green beetle. What can I do against that?

2.I have a few of poisonous plants in the garden. How careful do I have to be when cutting them back?

3.How do I get rid of horse radish?

Weedkiller is the only answer to this question – the horseradish will need to be repeatedly sprayed.

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