Eric Robson chairs the horticultural panel programme from Findon in West Sussex. Bunny Guinness, Christine Walkden and Matthew Wilson take questions from a local audience.
Eric Robson chairs the horticultural panel programme from Findon in West Sussex. Bunny Guinness, Christine Walkden and Matthew Wilson take questions from the audience of local gardeners.
Produced by Howard Shannon
A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4
For more information on Tristan Gooley, the Natural Navigator featured in this week's programme - visit his website here: www.naturalnavigator.com
This week's questions and answers:
Q. Can I dig out and transplant a small offshoot (a sucker from the rootstock) of a Japanese Maple? If so, what is the best time to do this?
A. Yes, you could do this, but as Japanese Maples are grafted onto the rootstock of other Acers, so you may get a surprise if the shoot is from the roots! However, it could be a seedling. Either way, move it in late spring.
Q. How and when should I prune a vigorous Honey Suckle?
A. Cut it down to two foot next May. You could train the shoots horizontally to encourage flowering.
Q. Can I propagate from Agapanthus seeds? Do they need to be dried and what's the best time to do this?
A. The seeds have to be fully ripe before you sow them. The capsule will turn brown and start splitting - this is the time to harvest. Leave the seeds somewhere quite warm to dry out for about a month. Sow the seeds in a gritty soil mix - possibly a mix of John Innes cutting compost with 25 to 50 percent grit added. Plant them about an inch deep, leave them on the kitchen windowsill and be prepared to wait for anything from a month to up to six months for germination. Leave the seedlings in the seed tray for the first year until you see at least one true leaf. Feed the bulbs with a half-strength fertiliser in the fist year to keep them growing and try and keep them growing for as long as possible. Then let them go dormant and when they come into growth the second year it's time to pot them individually. Alternatively, you could just divide up existing Agapanthus plants.
Q. Is there a good time to move Peonies and does the panel have any advice on how to encourage flowering?
A. The books say don't do it, but Peonies do move well. Lift the plant in a big clump if possible. Move it in February/ March if you have clay soil. Make sure it has enough moisture. If it's too big to move as one clump, split it gently with your hands and a knife. Make sure you don't plant too high because peonies need lots of moisture and they won't get this if grown on high ground.
Q. What is the secret to the successful propagation of French Tarragon?
A. Cuttings. Put them straight into a gritty soil early in the spring.
Q. When is a gnarly old rose bush too old?
A. When it stops flowering well and looks decrepit.
Q. How should I tame my large Callistemon (Bottlebrush) plant?
A. Prune beyond the knobbly bits soon after flowering and be bold - they look great if you grow them in large swathes.