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Cranfield University

Peter Gibbs invites the panel to join him at Cranfield University. Pippa Greenwood, James Wong and RHS Wisley curator Matthew Pottage answer questions from the audience.

Peter Gibbs invites the panel to join him at Cranfield University. Pippa Greenwood, James Wong and RHS Wisley curator Matthew Pottage answer questions from the audience.

The panellists lend their thoughts to discussions on tending to a large Fuchsia, starting a raspberry bed in chalky soil, and what to plant in a small garden devoid of light.

They also advise on pruning a conifer and deterring badgers from your garden, and offer organic solutions to vine weevil.

Anne Swithinbank visits Knoll Gardens in Dorset to discuss all things grass.

Produced by Dan Cocker
Assistant Producer: Laurence Bassett

A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.

Available now

43 minutes

Fact Sheet

Q – I have a fuchsia that’s large and woody.  Should I move it, leave it and then prune it, or move it and prune it at the same time?  It’s a metre high by a metre wide (3.25ft x 3.25ft)


Pippa – I would cut it back a little bit before moving it.


Matthew – Give it a haircut and then look after it then move it


James – Prune it at the same time that you move it.  This is probably the standard Fushcia magellanica.


Q – We put some Dicksonia antarctica in last year and they’re looking really shabby now.  Should I cut the old fronds back, like a deciduous fern, or should I leave them?


Matthew – Like with Cordyline leaves you need to leave them a bit before they look less shabby.  Make sure you look after the growing tip. 


Q – I’m starting a new raspberry bed.  First to go in is ‘Malling Minerva’.  The plot is 5m x 2m (16.5ft x 6.5ft)and the soil is neutral/alkaline and quite heavy.  How should I prepare the soil?


Pippa – I have similar soil and do better with autumn varieties.  Make sure there is good drainage, lots of organic matter, you could incorporate composted bracken too.


James – There is a North American species called Rubus occidentalis (Black Raspberry), Gelncoe cross. 


Q – I have a very small front garden (5m x 7m or 16.5ft x 23ft) which is north-facing with chalky soil and no sun.  What can I plant in it?


Matthew – TrachycarpusBergenia ‘Eden’s Magic Giant’.  Hosta.  With mulch and a feed your chalky soil should be manageable.  Try a Chilean evergreen fern called Blechnum chilense. 


James – Try Dicksonia tree ferns and plant Epiphytes onto the trunks.  Things like the native Asplenium (Heart’s Tongue fern), or Asplenium trichomanesSaxifraga stolonifera.  ‘Mind-Your-Own-Business’.  








Nassella (formerly Stipa tenuissima)





James - Bamboos: Dulcis or edulus.


Q – I have a Dawn Cypress tree in the garden which has a bald side.  Can I pollard or prune it so it grows back to a better shape?


Matthew – They are tolerant and can regenerate unlike the evergreen Cypress. 


Q – What can we do to humanely deter badgers from digging up the lawn?


Pippa – They’re looking for food in the form of Leatherjackets and Chaffer grubs.  So get rid of those.  Use a nematode control in the soil.


Matthew – Leave a small battery-powered radio on overnight and this will deter them


Q – Could you suggest an organic solution to get rid of Vine Weevil?  I’ve got them on my strawberries and Heucheras.


Pippa -  Use nematodes in the soil.  Vine Weevils can’t fly or swim so stand your pots/planters up above a tray of water and they won’t be able to get in.



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Link to tickets and info

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