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  1. My yew hedges have unsightly brown (dead) patches. They first appeared at the end of winter this year. Some bits started to rejuvenate but then collapsed. does any one know what is the cause? and more importantly what should I be doing about it?

  2. Heather Osborne

    I’ve been inspired both by Marion’s gravel garden and by Annie getting rid of all lawn, and am thinking of getting rid of our second (circular) lawn to replace it with gravel. Can anyone recommend books/articles on gravel gardening apart from the obvious one by Beth Chatto?……and what do the garden designers out there who know our garden think?

    • Go for it Heather! I think it would look great gravelled and certainly would define the area.

    • I don’t know of any books other than Beth Chatto’s. I think gravel would offset your planting style very well, and would add an extra dimension to your garden, too. I didn’t use any membrane under the gravel we laid as it can become disturbed when walked on, causing the edges to poke out in an unsightly way, and anyway I like self-seeders. Using different grades of stones provides context – larger ones can visually define the border edges – so choose a gravel which is available in different sizes so that there is continuity of tone and finish. We bought ours at Kingacre, next-door to Codicote Garden Centre, they have a good selection. Bulk bags are the cheapest method. About 3 – 4 25kg bags per sq metre will give good coverage. Plants that look good in gravel tend to be drought-tolerant sun-lovers, they tie in with the dry-garden look and tolerate the exposure well, too. Good luck.

    • The Dry Garden by Mark Rumary is quite good. You can borrow my copy. I have never regretted getting rid of our front lawn. Most of the gravel we put down about 20 years ago has now worked its way into the ground. I, like Marion did not use a membrane to encourage self seeders. We haven’t ever added to the gravel as the plants have filled all the space!

    • like Marion, I think it would define that section of your garden and look good, but I’m no garden designer. I eventually removed all the matting as it choked the developing plants, also the roots of unwanted seedlings got stuck in it and were harder to remove.

    • What a shame i just found your question tonight. Spent all day teaching a one day gravel gardening course. Will be repeated again next year. Or just come on one of my open days and see my two gravel gardens. Derry Watkins, Special Plants

  3. If I deadhead achillea will they flower again?

    • Margaret Marshall

      Edwina, I cut down my newly planted achillea “Terracotta” after flowering as it was looking straggly so I’m hoping it will put on more growth.

    • Heather Osborne

      Yes, they should. I’ve got (early flowering) A. ‘Moonshine’ flowering again now, also an un-named pink one. I don’t remember getting (later) ‘Coronation Gold’, currently on its first flowering, to re-flower so maybe it depends whether they’re earlier or late season.

  4. Margaret Marshall

    Slug and snails. I managed to watch Gardener’s World last night and was surprised that Carol was recommending Sidalcea as a slug proof plant as I bought a S ‘Elsie Heugh’ years ago and it didn’t even survive long enough to be planted out so I’ve avoided them. Have other people been more successful? Slugs and snails and possibly the badgers on my Northampton allotment are currently enjoying pumpkins, beans (various) and onions. Unfortunately they are not eating the weeds!

    • Are you sure it’s not mice? we caught 80 mice in three weeks who were peas, beans, clematis and goodness knows what else. Peanut butter is the bait to use.

  5. Adrian de Baat

    Liatris spicata – do any of you grow this plant? It is looking good in our garden at present, see: http://www.photobox.co.uk/album/1403347526. The purple spires are around 60 -75cms in height and have the curious habit of starting to flower from the top! They are in flower for around six weeks from mid summer and after that the brown stems maintain interest throughout autumn and winter. They look good in combination with grasses and other late flowering perennials. Bees and other flying insects love them. They are also extremely good value. I bought two packs of twelve large corms for £3.99 each at a garden centre last winter. Planted at around 20cms apart the two packs cover around a square meter patch of border, which is cheap! I recommend them. Adrian

    • Apologies Adrian for a late reply but I agree, Liatris spicata are still looking good in the garden here but failed to reach the dizzy heights of your plants remaining at 50 to 60cms. It will be interesting to see how they survive the winter, mine are in a fairly dry position so should be ok and like you I found them very available and cheap to buy.

  6. Have a look at this tree identification challenge and see if you have any clues to help identify the specimen: http://hertshps.com/2012/09/22/tree-recognition-challenge/

  7. Not overwhelmed by Blackpitts website :( Is it because I’m on the mobile?
    Janet

  8. Iris unguicularis are looking great now. However come June they look decidedly scruffy and floppy. I have had advice for and against cutting the leaves down in June and would be very grateful to know what you experts think?

    • I’m absolutely no expert, Meta……but I tend to cut out just the very scruffy looking leaves, as I do with Libertias. I have a Geranium ‘Rozanne’ which flops over the top of my Iris unguicularis by June so the scruffiness is less obvious. I’ve never tried cutting all the leaves out. Perhaps try one section and see if it re-sprouts from the base?

  9. Thank you very much, Heather, for this sensible advice. I shall try the method of half and half by cutting down every other plant and leaving the others. We shall see….

    • I’m dubious about cutting all the leaves off if the central fan is healthy. I think it may weaken the plant. It’s a bother to have to cut away only the outer leaves but I think it’s probably worth it to get flowers next winter. Sometimes, if the plant’s well-rooted, the leaves come away if pulled outwards, peeling off from the base, but I’ve been a bit cavalier in the past and ended up holding an uprooted plant, so maybe it’s better to resign yourself to a fiddly, knee-stiffening half hour. I like Heather’s suggestion of succession planting, with one plant hiding the tired remains of another.

  10. Does anyone have experience of Cornus capitata? I have a seed grown tree, several years old and about 7 feet tall which has never flowered. It seems to me that the recent cold winters, while not killing it, have knocked it back to such an extent that it has been unable to make flowering wood. Should I give it more time, speak to it severely or pull it out and see it as an opportunity to plant something else?

  11. Alison Metcalfe

    A lovely deep pink Cheiranthus/Erysimum (biennial) has seeded itself in my garden & I’d like to propagate it. I’m rubbish with seeds, but prepared to try. Or could I take cuttings? If so, I’d be grateful for details.
    Many thanks,
    Alison

  12. Hi Alison. If you wait until the flowers have finished, dead-head the plant and reduce stems by about half, then water it with a weak feed solution, you should find it produces new lateral or even basal shoots. Once they’re about 3″ long, you can take cuttings. Strike them in compost with 50% sharp grit and keep in a shady place. If you go via the seed route, it’s pot luck on the resulting colours.

  13. My turks cap lilies look very ‘odd’ this year. They grew as normal and the buds have developed into normal size blooms but all the leaves have died/dried off along the whole of the stems. This happened when the buds were still very small. As far as I can see there aren’t any blotches (fungus?) on the leaves or signs of insects.
    I will be so glad to know why this has happened and hope that the advice will not be to dig all the lilies up and not plant any more there for the next 5 years!

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