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Sissinghurst Castle Gardens: Correspondence Edition

Peter Gibbs and the panel are in Sissinghurst Castle Gardens in the Weald of Kent for a correspondence edition.

Peter Gibbs and the panel are in Sissinghurst Castle Gardens in the Weald of Kent for a correspondence edition. Pippa Greenwood, Matt Biggs and Chris Thorogood answer the questions raised by post, email and social media.

The panellists advise on an unhappy Cypress tree, suggest container plants for a windy balcony and discuss the best time to dead-head roses. They also offer tips for a healthy crop of herbs in window boxes.

Head Gardener, Michelle Cain, shows the panellists around the Sissinghurst Castle Gardens, stopping off to visit the White Garden, the Rose Garden and the Cottage Garden.

Producer: Hannah Newton
Assistant Producer: Rosie Merotra

A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4

Available now

42 minutes

Plant List

Question and time codes are below. Where applicable plant names are listed.


Q – After a period of heavy rain, some branches on my Cypress tree fell snapping the possibly rotted strings holding it up. What should I do?

(3 minutes 33 seconds)


Q – Is there a reliable sign that orchids are about to bloom? Is having the orchid in constant light a potential problem?

(7 minutes 12 seconds)


Q – I’m trying to grow Morning glory, and was pleased when the ones I sowed directly outdoors started producing leaves, but as yet, no flowers. I’ve been collecting seeds at the end of flowering and sowing these – is this the problem?

(9 minutes 9 seconds)


Q – My tree fern has a sucker growing from the base; can I detach the new growth from the main trunk to create a new plant or will the cutting just die?

(11 minutes 30 seconds)


Sissinghurst – The White Garden

(14 minutes 2 seconds)

Pittosporum tobira


Q – When is the right time to dead-head roses?

(16 minutes 33 seconds)


Rose Madame Alfred Carrière


Q – What’s the best way to keep roses in pots?

(19 minutes 20 seconds)


Q – I have a south-west facing balcony in the centre of Manchester, which can get extremely windy. Do you have any suggestions for container plants which can survive in full sun and deal with strong winds?

(21 minutes 38 seconds)


Chris – Salsify


Pippa – ‘Sweet ‘n Neat Scarlet’ tomato (Solanum lycopersicum); outdoor variety of aubergine


Matt – Alpines, Saxifraga ‘Tumbling Waters’; Tecophilaea cycnocrocus


Sissinghurst – Cottage garden

(25 minutes)









Q – What is causing the damage to my Fuchsia?

(26 minutes 52 seconds)


Q – I have a Dahlia which has fused two flowers together from the stem, is that unusual?

(28 minutes 28 seconds)


Sissinghurst – Recreating Delos

(30 minutes 37 seconds)


Q – I have a window box with some chilli plants and Greek basil growing in multipurpose compost. I’ve noticed some brown spots and in some cases the basil leaves have died completely – are there any tips you could give me for a healthy crop?

(33 minutes 44 seconds)


Sissinghurst – Rose Garden

(36 minutes 30 seconds)


Q – I have tomatoes growing from my Wilja potato plant – can they cross pollinate, and is this unusual?

(37 minutes 40 seconds)


Q – Is it true that if you dig up your early new potatoes early and put the cherry-sized potatoes in the compost, they will grow larger within a few weeks? Is this a myth, fable or true?

(39 minutes 2 seconds)





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