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Snape, Suffolk

Peter Gibbs and his panel of experts visit Snape in Suffolk. James Wong, Bob Flowerdew and Bunny Guinness answer the horticultural questions.

Peter Gibbs and his panel of experts visit Snape in Suffolk. James Wong, Bob Flowerdew and Bunny Guinness answer this week's horticultural questions.

The panellists offer advice on growing berries in sandy soil and the cause of fleshless lemons, and they suggest the perfect plants for a dinosaur-themed garden.

Also, Anne Swithinbank visits the RHS Potted exhibition.

Produced by Dan Cocker
Assistant Producer: Laurence Bassett

A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.

Available now

43 minutes

Snape Fact Sheet

If you would like more information about the RHS ‘Potted’ exhibition please follow this link

If you would like more information about the slug variety mentioned in the programme, or to contribute photos, please follow this link

Q – How can I grow amazing strawberries on a sandy soil?

Bunny – Add organic waste/green waste to hold the moisture.  I’ve just started growing Malwina which is a darker strawberry

Bob – I grow most of my strawberries in hanging buckets to protect them from pests and it’s easier to refresh the soil every couple of years


Q – I meant to ask about gooseberries…

Bob – Gooseberries need moisture and air ventilation.  Maybe some wood ash.


Q – We have a 6ft (1.8m) Camellia which is flowering in lots of different colours.  Why?

Bob – This could be a graft-chimaera.  There’s a thing called Laburnocytisus adamii, from France, and they would graft Cytisus onto a Laburnum rootstock and they would mix together on the plant. 

James – It could be viral but I would lean towards graft-chimaera too.


Q – Can the panel give reasons why my snowdrop bulbs under a large walnut tree keep appearing above the surface of the soil?

Bob – Walnut leaves are hostile and so the soil might be unsuitable for the bulbs. 

James – It could be congestion from below from the tree roots.  Crocosmia (which are related) will start to come above ground when there’s competition for space.


Q – Is it ok to use collected rainwater on seedlings?

Bob – Damping off disease can damage seedlings but that’s normally if they’ve been in a water butt for a long time.  To be safe, use boiled tap water.

Bunny – Temperature makes a big difference – so make sure it’s not too cold.  Keep it covered and use it a lot. 


Q – Can you recommend plants to hide an unsightly outlet pipe?

Bob – Try a variegated Holly. 

Bunny – Skimmia japonica ‘Pabella’.  A few Cosmos around the base.

James - Mahonia.  Pittosporum tobira


Q – We have a 6-year-old lemon that is producing fleshless fruit; why?

Bob – I think it’s got too dry and it is withdrawing moisture from the fruits.


Topical tips:

James – HostasAeoniums


Q – When should I prepare and plant a new asparagus bed?

Bunny – It takes three years to get going but then they can go on for many years

James – Buy them early and plant out in February/March time

Bob – You can sow seed in pots now and then plant out in Autumn


Q – Can you recommend plants for a dinosaur-themed garden?

Bunny – Gunnera.  Rheum.  Tree ferns.  Moss.

James – Dicksonia.  Equisetum (the non-natives).  Azolla water ferns.  Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Rex’.  


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