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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.

Available now

43 minutes

Fact Sheet

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.  

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