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Eric Robson and the team are at the Edinburgh Festival. Matthew Wilson, Bunny Guinness and Bob Flowerdew answer questions from an audience of local gardeners and festival goers.

Eric Robson and the team are at the Edinburgh Festival. Matthew Wilson, Bunny Guinness and Bob Flowerdew answer questions from an audience of local gardeners and festival goers.

The panellists explain why tomatoes are prone to splitting, ponder over a failing rhubarb crop, and suggest plants for a Japanese garden.

Eric Robson goes in search of the oldest floral clock in the world, and we answer correspondence from gardeners in Vancouver.

Assistant Producer: Hester Cant
Producer: Hannah Newton

A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.

Available now

43 minutes

Fact Sheet

Q – Why do my tomatoes split as they ripen?  The varieties are ‘Vilma’ and ‘Sungold’.


Bob – Usually erratic watering causes this.  The skin has hardened as it has tried to grow and then when growing it has split.


Bunny – Use capillary matting to aid water retention.  One square metre will hold a gallon of water.  (11sqft will hold 3.8 litres)


Q – We often get gale force winds of over 90mph (145kmh); which hardy vegetables can you recommend on our wind-swept allotment?


Matthew – Swiss chard or any of the rainbow chards. 


Bunny – Brussel sprouts (staked).  Leeks.  All the brassicas.  Kale, parsnips, carrots, Jerusalem Artichokes. 


Matthew – On Shetland they use what’s called a Polycrub to combat the extremely windy conditions


Q – I have created a wildflower patch at the bottom of my garden.  However, part of it is in the shade and can be quite damp.  Can you recommend plants that might survive there?


Bob – Go down the fern route instead of flowers.  Native arums (Lords-and-Ladies) would be ok. 


Bunny – I would try native grasses like Luzula.  Also try Geum and Galium.  Foxgloves would love that spot.  Epilobium (‘Willowherb’). 


Q – Why won’t my Crocosmia flower? 


Matthew – It could be too congested so try dividing it.  I have a yellow one called ‘Solfatare’. 


Bunny – It used to be called Montbretia


Bob – It could be lacking potash. 




Sedum spathulifolium

Sedum ‘Cape Blanco’

Crassula cooperi





Q – I’ve been trying to grow rhubarb for the last four years but had no success.  Why?


Bob – Rhubarb likes cool, moist, rich conditions


Q – We have birch trees grown and what to grow shrubs underneath them.  Preferably native, providing some summer colour and ones that are deer-proof.  What can you suggest?


Bunny – Yew (Taxus baccata).  Vibernum opulus and  .  Hydrangeas. 


Matthew – Dog rose.  Sloe.  Bullis. 


Bob – Redcurrants.  Brambles.  Japanese wineberry.  Rubus canadensis.  Elderberries (Sambucus). 


Eric – ‘Scotch Bridget’ apple tree


Q – I’ve had a bad attack of powdery mildew this year.  Is it safe to leave the leaves to mulch or do I need to clear it away?


Bunny – Clear it up.  Spray milk and water solution to stave it off in future


Matthew – I spray courgettes and gherkins


Bob – I would wait till all the leaves have dropped and then I would mulch on top to bury the mildew


Q – I want to create a small Japanese garden at home in Scotland.  What plants can I use?


Matthew – Acers, hostas, ferns. 


Bunny – Ilex crenata, Yew, Phyllyrea.  Bamboo. 


Bob – Japanese raisin tree (Hovenia dulcis)


Q – What plants are the perfect match for each other?


Bunny – I love blue and white together.  Clematis durandii (blue) with a white repeat-flowering rose like ‘Claire Austin’


Matthew – I like orange and purple together in high light levels.  Allium christophii (purple) and Papaver rupifragum or Eschscholzia californica for the orange


Bob – Scarlet pelargoniums and a bed of blue lobelia. 


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