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70th Anniversary Garden Party at Ness Botanic Gardens: The Potting Shed

Horticultural advice from the 70th Anniversary Garden Party Potting Shed.

Horticultural advice from GQT's Garden Party Potting Shed. Throughout the day at this year's 70th Anniversary Garden Party each panellist offered a one-on-one horticultural surgery for audience members on site at Ness Botanic Gardens. Here are the highlights from those sessions.

Produced by Dan Cocker
Assistant Producer: Laurence Bassett

A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.

Available now

43 minutes

Last on

Sun 22 Oct 2017 14:00

Fact Sheet

Q – I have a trained apricot tree, and this summer all my apricots suddenly disappeared just before they were ripe. What happened?


Anne – It is most likely to be squirrels. Net the windows and doors of the greenhouse to stop them getting in.


Q -   My white wisteria sinensis ‘Alba’ grows over my pergola, it is flowering regularly, is this because I am over pruning?


James – They tend to flower twice a year, in the spring and then early autumn. Wisteria has lateral growth and so pruning the apical growth will create a more compact plant that has more flowers and larger flowers than before. I would keep pruning to encourage more flowers.


Q – What sort of tomatoes have the best resistance to blight?


James – Crimson Crush


Q – We have climbing Trachelospermum with jasmine-like flowers in a pot. It isn’t thriving and is turning red/brown, is that normal?


Pippa – The pot probably isn’t big enough and so you should put it in the ground to give the roots more space. Autumn is a good time to do so and should look better in 12 months.


Q – I depend entirely on pots in my garden. How successful are apple trees grown in pots?


Bob – If they are saplings they are likely to be dwarfing stock. The amount of watering is critical because it’s a big plant in a small container. You need to water very regularly. The needs to be as large as you possibly can and you can under-plant them with herbs.


Q – I have a four-year-old Brown Turkey fig in a pot which needs potting on and I would like to put it in the garden. What is the best way to do this without straining my back?


Bunny – You either keep it in big pots or buy bags made of an engineering fabric which allow all roots smaller than 3mm (0.1inches) diameter to grow through them but nothing bigger. These will restrict the main tap roots from growing too far into the soil. This works well for replanting Christmas trees. I successfully grow ‘Desert King’ figs.


Q – I would like to plant a selection of grasses in my garden border. Which grasses would you suggest?


Matthew – Grasses are either cool season grasses which flower in early summer such as Deschampsia (Golden Vale – cultivated form), or Pheasant’s Tail grass (Anemanthele lessoniana). For height I recommend Steeper gigantea (Golden Oats). You could also have the ‘Hair’ Grass (Stipa tenuissima) and the Japanese Miscanthus sinensis varieties such as ‘Ferner Osten’. Also Panicum virgatum ‘Squaw’. Make sure you mix in some flowering plants such as Agapanthus, Rudbeckia, Aster, Helianthus, Eupatorium and spring bulbs.


Q – I want to know what is eating my lemon tree and what I can do about it?


Pippa – They are a little yellow and there is a lot of damage. It looks like Vine Weevil. I would use a nematode, a worm-like creature that goes into the compost and kills off the grubs to stop the attack on the roots and therefore leaves. I would treat all of your plants even if you haven’t seen evidence of their presence yet.


Q – My Agapanthus has not flowered for 40 years, what can I do?


Matt – They don’t often survive in pots for many years. Past a certain stage, the whole pot is a mass of roots and so the plant is being starved. I re-pot them every two or three years. 


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