The Olympic Park
Eric Robson hosts the horticultural panel programme in Essex. Matthew Wilson also takes a tour of the Olympic Park to see how things have grown over the past four years.
Eric Robson hosts the horticultural panel programme in Essex, four years on from the London Olympics. Matthew Wilson, Christine Walkden and Pippa Greenwood answer the audience questions.
Matthew Wilson also takes a tour of the Olympic Park to see how things have grown over the past four years.
Produced by Darby Dorras
Assistant producer: Laurence Bassett
A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.
Q. Could the panel suggest some plants that the rabbits won’t eat?
A. Matthew – I don’t think they like Euphorbia or Anchusa. Planting hairy-stemmed plants often works. They wouldn’t eat the spiny foliage of Colletia paradoxa.
Pippa – Lavender and aromatic plants are less likely to be attacked. Bergenia may also be safe.
Q. I have had problems germinating root vegetable seeds. What am I doing wrong?
A. Christine – Moisture near the surface is important. Dig a trench and fill it with compost. The seeds can be sown directly into the compost.
Pippa – Climatic conditions could also be an issue. We have had some very wet periods and the seeds may be rotten.
Matthew – Try starting them in cells in the greenhouse.
Q. What is the best type of mulch for a fallow vegetable bed? I would also like to stop the weeds growing.
A. Pippa - Nothing will prevent weeds other than a fabric such as anti-weed matting.
Christine – I would use something like Lupins as a green manure and dig them in the following year.
Matthew – You could plant potato tubers and then dress it with a mulch for the last few weeks.
Q. My cactus flowered for the first time this year. Can I propagate it in anyway?
A. Christine – It is difficult to ripen the seeds because we don’t have the sunlight required. The seed capsule will go from green to brown when it is ready. You will need to propagate the seeds at 21 degrees centigrade or higher, and keep the temperature constant. Use a soil based seed compost and keep it on the dry side.
Q. I have planted Verbena bonariensis to attract Hummingbird hawk-moth. What is the best way to grow, propagate and protect it?
A. Matthew – It is fairly difficult to grow from seed. There is a nice short variety called Lollipop.
Pippa – I would start it in cells in a sharply drained compost.
Q. My favourite plant is Brugmansia but I don’t have the room to overwinter it. Could the panel suggest any smaller alternatives?
A. Christine – Have you thought about the Abutilons? They have a range of bell sizes with good foliage.
Pippa – Look at some of the tree lilies. They can be kept in well drained containers. Keep them well fed. They are showy and have a great perfume.
Matthew - Beschorneria yuccoides is a real showstopper with its red stems and flowers.
Q. When should I prune an Escallonia hedge? I would like to reduce the height.
A. Matthew – They are good hedges because they provide flowers. You need to trim it after flowering. You may shock it if you take too much off the top. You could do it gradually in stages.