Eric Robson and the panel visit Suffolk. James Wong, Bob Flowerdew and Bunny Guinness answer the horticultural questions from the audience of local gardeners.
Produced by Dan Cocker
Assistant Producer: Laurence Bassett
A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.
Q – Is there any way to save my mature Wisteria when my kitchen is rebuilt?
Bunny – I think it’s going to be a lot of work – I would invest in a new plant.
Q – Can you recommend a scented Iris? And what are the best growing conditions?
James – Iris confusa is my favourite. Situation: lots of sun and by water features.
Bunny – The bearded irises like the sunny positions – so things like ‘Jane Phillips’. For the shade – Iris iberica. You can grow ‘Weymouth Blue’ near water.
Bob – The Orris Root.
Q – My wildlife pond is drowning in blanket weed. What can I do?
Bunny – Increase water circulation. Give it some shade if you can. Barley straw extract. You need soil in the bottom of the pond too – a non-clay subsoil.
Bob – Find a use for the blanket weed. Rake it out, let it dry and then use them inside hanging baskets or making planting pouches.
James – You want to grow floating plants to cut down on sunlight hitting the water. Then you want some oxygenating plants to take out some of the fertiliser.
Q – I have a problem with aphids on runner bean roots in raised beds. What can I do?
Bob – You need to get rid of the ants as they will be ‘farming’ the aphids. I would recommend boiling water onto the nest.
James – You could mulch the surface.
Bunny – I would use a green waste mulch
Q – I’ve tried to have a container garden but I’m finding it difficult to clear out the tubs. Is there an easy way to clean the tubs? For example, I want to clear out a Pieris in order to replace it.
Bob – Put a plastic sheet down and push the pots over
James – Just plant perennials. Do less.
Eric – You don’t need to empty the whole container each time
Q – We had a large maple which was cut down seven years ago but the root system is still there and it blights plant growth and breeds mushrooms. What should we do?
Bunny – I wouldn’t worry about the mushrooms. It’s not cheap to grind stumps out so I always just cut them down as close as I can get them and then enrich the soil and water well when planting new plants. The roots will rot away. If I need to I will use a hand saw to chop away unwanted roots when planting.
Bob – I think you’re about to win this battle, they will rot away soon enough.
Q – Could you suggest vegetables for planting in the autumn that we can pick from through winter? No brassicas please.
Bob – Not an awful lot. Leeks you could try. Mustards. Chinese cabbages or pak chois. Swedes. You might be better off with herbs like thymes, mint, rosemary and sage.
Bunny – Chards. Spinach. Coriander. Fennel.
Q – I will be opening my garden to the public on July 9th. Would the panel recommend the ‘Chelsea Chop’ to delay flowering?
Bunny – I use the Chelsea Chop for things like sedums. I chop my Honesty to make it flower late. Alchemilla mollis, Nepeta, Lobelias will be fine. If you shade things it’ll slow them as well. Lavender would work
Bob – I’d grow a lot of trailing Nasturtiums to tuck in and drape over any bare patches
James – I wouldn’t bother
Q – I’ve tried everything to grow cabbages in our sandy soil - am attempting the impossible?
Bob – They do prefer thicker soil with lime. Incorporate organic matter into the soil. Try different type of cabbages – ‘Minicole’ is a good variety.
Bunny – Red cabbage is easier than green cabbage. ‘Hispi’ and the pointy cabbages too. Mulch them well
James – Sea Kale grows well on sandy soils. New Zealand spinach too.
Q – I have an 80-year old Lilac hedge that’s full of bloom. How should I tend to it without killing it?
James – Cut out any deadwood with a pruning saw. Mulch around it and give it a good water and some high potash fertiliser.