The Old Forum

Below are a selected set of the discussions held on the old website forum, which you can comment on further at the bottom.

Bupleurum fruiticosum by Julie Wise – written 09/04/2012 20:34:35

I have just pruned a large branch from my Bupleurum fruiticosum and have taken some 4 – 5 ” cuttings with a heel and slipped them into some gritty compost.  What are my chances of producing some fine plants for the future?  From what I have read this should be taking place in July but I am hoping someone can give me some positive views regarding my present action.

RE: Bupleurum fruiticosum by Alison King – written 17/04/2012 17:43:47

I have just pruned a large branch from my Bupleurum fruiticosum and have taken some 4 – 5 ” cuttings with a heel and slipped them into some gritty compost.  What are my chances of producing some fine plants for the future?  From what I have read this should be taking place in July but I am hoping someone can give me some positive views regarding my present action.

If that doesn’t work try saving the seeds . My large plant was propagated that way and provided some lovely flowers for my daughter’s wedding

Mathiasella by Alison King – written 31/03/2012 14:42:09

After we did the show at Chelsea I bought a plant of Mathiasella bupleuroides ‘Green Dream’. It has survived every winter since but seemed to be held back so far that it was unable to recover in time to flower. Not this year. It is now sporting 4 flower heads! So it seems that it is bone hardy, having got through 2 very cold winters but needs a mild-ish winter to enable it it flower.

RE: Mathiasella by Julie Wise – written 06/04/2012 19:48:17

Lucky you Alison I lost mine to that garden in the sky.

Stipa gigantea by Diana Garner – written 02/03/2012 10:32:07

In the past I have tidied my Stipa by cutting off the dead flowers and combing it to get rid of all the brown grass.  Someone who came to the garden last year said they cut theirs down to the ground like a Miscanthus.  Have any of you treated yours in this way and did it survive?

Thanks Diana

RE: Stipa gigantea by Julie Wise – written 06/04/2012 19:47:02

Hello Diana

I cut my Stipas giganteas back alternate years which seems to rejuvenate them somewhat.  I create a dome effect which can then look attractive during the winter.  In the years that I don’t cut back I too comb through.  They have self seeded here in our garden so eventually the mother plant may be removed but 12 years on she is still performing well.

 RE: Stipa gigantea by Adrian de Baat – written 03/03/2012 08:43:56


When I first had a Stipa gigantea I also cut it right to the ground, but I was disappointed in the growth the following year. Now, I do more or less as you do. I cut out the flowers, rake it vigorously to take out the dead leaves, and then give it a trim with lawn shears to tidy up its shape – seems to work for me!


 libertia grandiflora by Meta – written 06/09/2011 18:21:07

My Libertia grandiflora is now 4 years old. It is very large. This year it did not flower as well as the last couple of years and there are a lot of brown leaves, which make it look rather scruffy. I am not prepared to spend hours cutting out the brown leaves individually…..

Is it time to say goodbye or would it respond to drastic pruning?

RE: libertia grandiflora by Heather – written 22/09/2011 06:13:38

I agree that it’s a tedious job cutting out the brown leaves but can be mildly therapeutic (yes, I do lead a sad life!) and also a good way to find and destroy all the snails that enjoy living down in the depths Seems a shame to say goodbye to it – it’s always the plant most asked about on our NGS days. Haven’t tried cutting it all back I’m afraid.

 RE: RE: libertia grandiflora by Adrian de Baat – written 30/09/2011 20:06:28

Sorry about the blank reply – finger trouble. I am with you, Heather. I also cut out the brown leaves in Spring, It is a lovely plant, which I would not dream of throwing out. The only reason for digging it up, in my view, is in order to divide it and produce more plants!

 RE: RE: RE: libertia grandiflora by Julie Wise – written 22/11/2011 15:21:39

Sorry I have only just picked this message up so you may have already done what you needed to do.  I found pulling the dead leaves worked equally well and is a lot quicker than cutting with scissors especially if they are really old, my clump perked up no end after this treatment.  I have also split them in the past and found that not being too mean about the size of the pieces  ie the larger the better improved survival.

Elaeagnus ‘Quicksilver’ by Alison Metcalfe wrote (26/05/2011 08:33:37):

I have been given this Eleagnus in a pot, currently about 4 feet tall. However, it can grow in sun to up to 5m x 4m & I don’t have that much space in my garden, let alone sunny space, to plant it. If it goes into a smaller ‘space’, can I keep it within bounds by pruning? I realise this plant may not strictly be a hardy plant, but if anyone has any tips about how best to cope with this shrub I’d be grateful. Many thanks, Alison

RE: Elaeagnus ‘Quicksilver’ by Helen Cullens – written 03/07/2011 08:31:47

I have this shrub grown as a small tree, it tends to die back and so has never grown very large.   It is now about 15ft x 10ft, but the canopy is very airy so plants are able to grow beneath it.   The major snag is that it produces suckers at some distance from the main trunk.   These are not ‘Quicksilver’ but a larger leaved more basic form;  they are easy enough to pull up.   I love this shrub/tree the scent is stunning and the silvery effect magical.

Coronilla by Heather wrote (29/11/2010 16:50:47):

My Coronilla valentina subsp glauca ‘Citrina’ is flowering beautifully but has lots of bare twiggy branches round its base (it’s now about 5ft tall). I’d welcome tips on how to prune it (after flowering)to prevent it getting even more leggy. My book says to restrict pruning to the removal of dead wood at the base as they don’t survive drastic renovation, so I fear it will end up a tall lollipop!

RE: Coronilla by Julie Wise – written 09/01/2011 12:07:13

My book ‘The Pruning of Trees Shrubs and Conifers’ by George E. Brown says to cut out any dead tips or shoots to living wood at the commencement of growth in the spring and at the same time cutting out any very old and worn growths.

Perhaps you could plant something evergreen at its base to disguise the twiggy growth. Hope this helps

Salvia confertiflora by Edwina – written 27/10/2010 11:39:57

I have a Salvia confertiflora in a large pot. It is still looking terrific despite the recent frosts. Will it survive outside in the pot or should I cut it back and put in a cold frame or even our barely heated greenhouse?

 RE: Salvia confertiflora by Heather – written 05/12/2010 17:27:49

Helen Yemm, in the Saturday Telegraph gardening section from last week, said she overwinters hers in a cold greenhouse, together with Agapanthus africanus and special pelargoniums. She says in some years their survival is touch and go, but before they go into the greenhouse in October, she sprays them with systemic fungicide. Then she keeps their roots virtually dry, opening the door during mild weather and covering them with loose layers of bubble wrap when the temperatures plummet.

RE: Salvia confertiflora by David Singleton – written 04/11/2010 11:25:39

I cannot believe that no-one has answered your question about this salvia yet. Come on you experts!

We have got to know quite a few salvias over the last few years but not confertiflora which the RHS book has down as ‘one star’ hardy. Our ‘two star’ salvias get quite cut back by the frosts each year so I wouldn’t risk a ‘one star’ outside. A cold green house should be OK. I take cutting of all salvias left outside over winter just in case of really hard frosts and find they seem to strike dead easily even in November.

Mathiasella bupleuroides ‘Green Dream’ by Roger Trigg – written 11/05/2010 00:53:26

It’s now 3 years since this starred in our Chelsea display. How have others found it? My plant is now starting it’s 3rd season. It flowered on a single stem in year 1, made a neat 5-stemmed bush in year 2 but no flowers and the 5 stems are now carrying developing flower clusters. This winter’s frost and snow took most of the old leaves off but the growing tips survived and resumed growth in March. The main point is that it’s not an herbaceous perennial, more of a sub-shrub in the style of Euphorbia characais. My  plant is also making a good deal of new growth from ground level so I’ll cut out the flowered stems when they begin to look tired, mid-summer I should think.

RE: RE: Mathiasella bupleuroides ‘Green Dream’ by Alison King – written 21/07/2010 17:54:34

Mine has proved totally hardy, putting up lots of new growth from ground level but not currently showing any signs of flowers although it flowered last year.

This winter by Richard Stubbs – written 04/03/2010 17:52:35

I have borderline hardy plants in a cold greenhouse for the winter. Survival this year is likely to be worse than usual. But does anyone know what the lowest temperatures experienced locally have been this winter?

RE: RE: This winter by Margaret Bardell – written 10/03/2010 14:16:58

We keep a record of the highest and lowest temperatures in our exposed garden in Welwyn.
The lowest figures for the last two Winters were:-
December 2008 -5.0
December 2009 -7.3
January 2009 -10.3
January 2010 -4.8
February 2009 -5.6
February 2010 -3.0
March 2009 -2.4
March 2010 (to date) -5.1

So, there is no clear pattern. However, these represent only the extremes and not the averages.

RE: This winter by Alison King – written 07/03/2010 10:21:41

How about contacting Rothamsted – they keep weather records.

RE: RE: This winter by Richard Stubbs – written 22/03/2010 21:38:22

The following is Rothamstead summary for Dec. -Temperature December had slightly below average maximum and minimums, 5.4°C (-1.74) and 0.0°C (-1.92) respectively. The highest temperature was 11.87°C on the 5th and the lowest temperature was -8.38°C in the early hours of the 23rd. · We had 15 air frosts and 16 ground frosts.

RE: RE: RE: This winter by Richard Stubbs – written 22/03/2010 21:40:57

And for Jan: – Temperature January was colder than average with mean maximum and minimum temperatures of 3.2°C (-3.1) and -0.9°C (-1.74) respectively. The highest day temperature was 8.04°C (-3.33) on the 17th, and the lowest minimum was -6.5°C (-0.45) on the 7th. · Frosts We had 19 air frosts and 19 ground frosts.

RE: RE: RE: RE: This winter by Richard Stubbs – written 22/03/2010 21:42:25

And for Feb: – Temperature The mean maximum and the mean minimum temperatures were both below average with 5.4ºC (-1.27) and 0.3ºC (-0.47) respectively. The lowest minimum was -3.1ºC (+1.9) on the 20th, and the highest maximum was 10.2ºC (-1.7) on the 5th. · Frosts We had 14 air frosts and 18 ground frosts.

Nerine bowdenni by Alison King – written 02/12/2009 13:27:41

In a garden I work in the Nerines have produced what seem to be fruitlets. They are spherical, fleshy and approx 3/4 cm in size. They don’t seem to have a seed inside. Does any one have experience of propagating them from these. Are they the seed istelf – perhaps not ripe, although they were falling off the plants.

Nerine bowdenii by Alison King – written 04/03/2010 11:16:34

Thank you David for mentioning this in your email. I found some information (in a book!) and sowed 15 seeds immediately in modules and put them in the airing cupboard. They have germinated eratically – about half so far. Once the first had come up I had to put them in the light of course. No doubt it will be years before they flower but my curiosity is satisfied.

Fuchsia (non hardy)  Diana Garner wrote (22/11/2009 11:06:51):

I have just managed to dig up my non hardy fuchsias and bring them into my frost free greenhouse.  Any tips as to how to overwinter them now?  Thanks

RE: Fuchsia (non hardy) by David Singleton – written 01/12/2009 18:44:15

Fuchsias enjoy a winter holiday too! For a good display next year I suggest you cut the tops well back and remove any remaining leaves. You can cut the roots back too – say to fit them back into their original sized pots. More or less any compost will do but don’t let them stand in water or get completely bone dry. In a frost free greenhouse most will soon send out new shoots and grow slowly through winter. Triphylla types (terminal flowering Thalia etc,) like it a bit warmer, though, to keep them ticking over, say 40 degrees C.

Aeonium ‘Schwartzkopf’ by Meta Reeves – written 12/11/2009 17:59:10

I bought a one-headed Aeonium ‘Schwartzkopf’ from the plant stall a couple of years ago. It has thrived ever since and has now grown into a 10-headed gangly specimen, which needs a stake to stop it from toppling over! It spent all summer outside but is now overwintering in the greenhouse.
How do I propagate from it? Do I just cut off one of the heads with a bit of trunk and put it into gritty compost? My plant book tells me to take stem cuttings in the Spring but I am not sure how to do this without sacrificing the whole plant?

RE: Aeonium ‘Schwartzkopf’ by Roger Trigg – written 30/12/2009 23:03:22

BTW, the variety name is ‘Zwartkop’ not ‘Schwartzkopf’, ie, it’s Dutch, not Deutsch!”

RE: Aeonium ‘Schwartzkopf’ by David Singleton – written 01/12/2009 18:25:20

Just so! Chop the top off with about 1 inch of stem, let it dry off then pot it up in a small pot of sandy compost, about half an inch deep. I find they root easily at any time of year. The original plant will send out new stems from old leaf nodes, but you might want to cut it down a bit first and use the discarded stems for more cuttings which will root just as easily: I use about 1 and a half inches of bare stems, several to a shallow pot of sandy compost. You just need to remember which way up they go!

RE: Aeonium ‘Schwartzkopf’ by Julie Wise – written 29/11/2009 12:53:50

In the past I have knocked off heads of my aeoniums whilst moving them and have then just potted them up in gritty compost or if I am running short of time inserted them in the compost at the base of the mother plant.  They have all survived.  At present I have three pieces of trunk in gritty compost and a terracotta pot waiting for some green shoots to appear but I don’t expect that to happen until next spring.  New heads will grow from where you take the cutting as well so it’s a winner all round.  You may also be able to take leaf cuttings but I haven’t tried this.  Good luck.

Fuchsia by Sue Jaye – written 27/10/2009 22:51:17

I have space in the garden for a hardy fuchsia.It will live in a South facing bed , backed by the wall of the house and its neighbour will be my treasured Chimonanthus praecox, which is a dull old thing in the summer, but would make a nice green contrast to the flowers of a fuchsia.It is quite sheltered, as much further along the same wall a a cytisus battandieri is more than happy. Five feet tall would be good. Please suggest a good fuchsia to get, and possibly a source of a good plants.

RE: Fuchsia by David Singleton – written 05/11/2009 10:54:16

A South facing bed, backed by a house wall is a challenging site for fuchsias, generically more comfortable on the misty slopes of the South American Andes. They won’t enjoy the reflected heat from the wall and, above a temperature of about 85 degrees, will just stop growing.

If you are really keen to try, I suggest that you underplant with ground cover to help shade the roots and position as far away from the wall as possible. But an East facing wall – that’s altogether different and hard to beat. . . .

I have had success in full sun with some good old varieties which you could try – Mrs Popple, Phyllis and Rufus to name three which will grow to about a metre high. Many magellanica derivatives will grow taller, e.g. Riccartonii, Whiteknights Pearl and Hawkshead, but tend to drop leaves if it’s too dry.

Best to buy good stock at our own plant sale of course – United Reform Church Hall, Homewood Road, St Albans in early June.

Myosotidium by Madeleine – written 15/10/2009 15:06:32

What am I doing wrong to make my myosotidium look so ill and pathetic? It is in a pot in free draining soil and was overwintered in a frost free greenhouse. I have fed it during the growing season and dosed it with provardo.It is predominantly in shade. It puts up a few leaves but the majority go yellow and it has never flowered Does it need more sunlight and perhaps less water (blame helpful John, intermittently very enthusiastic with the hose)

RE: Myosotidium by Heather Osborne – written 08/11/2009 10:10:23

I have struggled too. Mine flowered wonderfully one year, then gradually dwindled away over the following year despite being kept in the same conditions (in a pot, in semi-shade, well watered, overwintered in greenhouse.) I suspect they need a moister atmosphere than we can provide in the South-east, having seen them looking wonderful in Cornwall.

RE: RE: Myosotidium by Alison King – written 19/11/2009 13:41:22

I’ve had just the same experience -very disappointing.

Fuchsia rust by Heather Osborne – written 24/08/2009 19:49:05

My (not hardy) fuchsias in pots are displaying what I think is rust, i.e. orange/yellow spotting and premature drop of the leaves. Any recommendations for prevention and a suitable fungicide welcome, please!

RE: Fuchsia rust by David Singleton – written 29/09/2009 11:41:50

Picking off all the fungus-spotted leaves and a spray containing myclobutanil may stave off the worst for a week or two but your rusty fuchsias won’t do well again this year. You can rescue them for next year by cutting them hard back and stripping off all the remaining leaves. In this state I have found fuchsias can withstand an accidental spillage of a 200:1 solution of ‘Soap Based Outdoor Cleaner’ when I clean my patio, and new shoots are fungus free. Alternatively, Heather, buy a new plant, it’s probably cheaper than a bottle of chemicals.

Dianella Newsflash! by Anne – written 05/05/2009 20:48:06

After harping on about a lack of flowers and, therefore, berrries on my Dianella I can now report an absolute PROFUSION of buds (I have counted 18 stems!)

The question is: Did it just need time to mature? Was it the cold winter? Or do Dianellas have a secret broadband connection and respond well to threats?

RE: Dianella Newsflash! by Roger – written 28/05/2009 00:43:22

My 3 potted plants are also flowering for the first time in 3 years. They spent the winter in a polytunnel kept just above freezing (except for a couple of nights when the outside temp dropped to -10 and my huge Clivia got it outside leaves singed but survived nonetheless).

Plant ID please? by Janet Horton – written 23/04/2009 08:12:18

Hello all

Below should be a link to my album of unidentified plants – the geranium phaeum I may have bought from Barbara Stalbow, or may have come from the plant sale table many moons ago as “Samobor”, but does not have the markings on the leaves. Anyone any ideas?  The other two ought to be easier – a thistle-leaved daisy and combination photo of verbena, dahlia & what?

If this isn’t an active link, please copy and paste the text into your web browser.

Thanks, Janet

RE: Plant ID please? by Annie – written 27/04/2009 21:53:22

Hi Janet

The second photo is definitely Berkhaya purpurea, which has been discussed on the forum already.

The Geranium could any of many phaeum varieties??

As for the third photo, pass, but it looks very interesting indeed!

Agave Americana by margaret Bardell – written 21/03/2009 10:05:24

My two large Agaves have suffered badly from winter wet. They are, unfortunately too large to take in for the winter.They both have an undamaged central spike but all the side leaves have had to be removed. Is there any chance they will recover or should I abandon them?

RE: Agave Americana by Adrian de Baat – written 22/03/2009 17:32:42

Mine have also been damaged to varying degrees, but I would say that so long as the central spike is still intact then they will recover in time during the summer. Obviously cut off cleanly all the mushy leaves. Certainly some hot sunshine would help! I would persevere, since agaves are great specimen plants.

Incidentally I have a small plant of Agave montana, which I bought on ebay, and has been planted outside in the border all winter. It has sailed through completely undamaged, and is starting to produce a new leaf. Quite a remarkably hardy agave, especially given my plant’s small size. I am seriously considering acquiring another one.

Agave Americana by margaret Bardell – written 21/03/2009 10:05:24

My two large Agaves have suffered badly from winter wet. They are, unfortunately too large to take in for the winter.They both have an undamaged central spike but all the side leaves have had to be removed. Is there any chance they will recover or should I abandon them?

RE: Agave Americana by Adrian de Baat – written 22/03/2009 17:32:42

Mine have also been damaged to varying degrees, but I would say that so long as the central spike is still intact then they will recover in time during the summer. Obviously cut off cleanly all the mushy leaves. Certainly some hot sunshine would help! I would persevere, since agaves are great specimen plants.

Incidentally I have a small plant of Agave montana, which I bought on ebay, and has been planted outside in the border all winter. It has sailed through completely undamaged, and is starting to produce a new leaf. Quite a remarkably hardy agave, especially given my plant’s small size. I am seriously considering acquiring another one.

Berkheya purpurea by Adrian de Baat – written 18/03/2009 09:08:28

Does anyone have any experience of growing this perennial plant?

Clare and I saw it growing in Kirstenbosch when we there in January and were very impressed – surprisingly beautiful blue flowers above dense prickly thistle foliage. I acquired some seed from Chilterns when we returned and this is now germinating successfully. Any advice on how best to use it in the garden would be gratefully received.

RE: Berkheya purpurea by Madeleine – written 04/05/2009 14:32:30

Having despaired that I had lost a little patch of these, two have suddenly re-appeared.

Nick at Reveley Lodge saves the seed and treats them as annuals. I think my survivors are too large to be self seeders

RE: Berkheya purpurea by Heather Osborne – written 18/03/2009 21:06:01

I got a couple at the Seedling Exchange last year – one has overwintered successfully, one hasn’t. It is best placed where no one is going to catch themselves on it, as it does get big and vicious! – but still beautiful.

 RE: Berkheya purpurea by Alison King – written 18/03/2009 13:51:18

Yes I’ve tried it on a couple of occasions (one of them a plant bought from Annie) but have not succeded in overwintering it. It was in full sun and well drained soil . Perhaps this was not to its liking.

 RE: RE: Berkheya purpurea by Annie – written 19/03/2009 20:15:17

Berkheya definitely does prefer full sun and a well drained winter soil, they are quite thirsty when in growth. If plants make it through their first winter they seem to stay perennial. However, if there is a batch on the nursery overwinter we invaraibly lose a third of them, even if they are side by side and seemingly receiving exactly the same treatment. That’s if the slugs don’t make lace curtains of them first!

RE: RE: RE: Berkheya purpurea by Roger Trigg – written 11/05/2010 00:43:06

I’ve had this for some years now and it has survived OK. It’s growing in a sunny spot with very good drainage. Doesn’t really clump up, though – 3 stems at the most.

Ornamental Grasses by Edwina – written 09/03/2009 10:16:39

Yesterday I was cutting down some of my ornamental grasses when I suddenly thought – “This is easy compared to other years”.  The reason? Jokarti hand shears.  Handmade in Greece, they cut cleanly and precisely.  Brilliant on irisand phormium leaves they are a quality product and very comfortable to use. Not only that, with their bright red handles they are easy to spot when mistakenly left in the compst heap.  Find them at

RE: Ornamental Grasses by Annie – written 16/03/2009 22:27:57

Here! here! A client was generous enough to buy me a pair for Xmas last year and I wouldn’t be without them

RE: Ornamental Grasses by Alison King – written 10/03/2009 16:31:41

Thank you for the tip. I’ve just been wrestling with a pampas grass (not in my garden I hasten to add!) and it sounds like they would have made the job much easier.

Monardas by Adrian de Baat – written 06/03/2009 21:39:46

Does anyone share my enthusiasm for Monardas?

We have five different varieties already in our garden, and I have two newer mildew resistant varieties on order, namely “Gewitterwolke” and “Raspberry Wine”. I know they have their problems i.e. mildew (mainly on older varieties), a tendency to wander – or disappear altogether in a wet winter, but they have such fabulous flowers over a long period from mid summer onwards. The plants do not need staking and the seedheads create a presence over the whole of autumn and winter. In my view the pros greatly outweigh the cons. A great plant in a naturalastic style herbaceous border.

 RE: Monardas by Diana Barry – written 01/06/2009 09:17:29

At Glen Chantry recently I purchased a Monarda Squaw; the only one he now grows because it alone does not get mildew, he reckons.

Paeonia mlokosewitischii by Roger – written 25/02/2009 22:55:03

Does anyone share my view that this famous plant is much over-rated? The admittedly beautiful flowers in early spring are so fleeting and the foliage by paeony standards is nothing special. And if grown in a sunny spot the foliage can begin dying back by mid-summer. Pollination is also uncertain and I’ve seldom had a good crop of the red-turning black seeds. I’ve lifted and potted up my 2 plants this winter and will grow then in large pots placed by the front door while in flower then consigned out of the way thereafter!

RE: Paeonia mlokosewitischii by Julie Wise – written 05/03/2009 17:02:37

Sorry Roger I must disagree, I have found my Paeonia very happy in its spot sheltered by a yew hedge, west facing and semi shaded  and it always produces beautiful bright pink seed each autumn.  I must agree that the flowers are certainly fleeting but the foliage remains quite attractive sitting behind a hosta or two, it keeps a pinky soft glow and retains it’s pink stems.  I avoid supporting most plants in the garden but I take care to weave some hazel for support of the Paeonia mlokosewitischii.

RE: RE: Paeonia mlokosewitischii by Diana Barry – written 06/03/2009 09:40:58

I was given a not small clump and after flowering almost immediately it withered gradually.  The culprits were slugs devouring the roots.  I retrieved the remnants, potted them up and it is now showing some good shoots.  I certainly do not want to lose this beautiful plant again so, thanks Julie, I now have a better idea of where to site it – and will apply “slugit” to protect it.

RE: Paeony Mlockesevitchii by Barbara Stalbow – written 04/02/2010 18:07:05

Just a note about this Paeony.
The small coral pink seeds are the ones which have not been pollinated and it is only the round large black balls which when sown will eventually produce what I think is a supremely beatiful plant.

snow casualties by Heather – written 16/02/2009 07:49:37

A Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca and an Abutilon ‘Kentish Belle’, planted last spring on an east facing fence in what I had thought was a fairly sheltered spot, are looking extremely sick and sorry for themselves after the recent cold snap. (Two other Coronillas elsewhere in the garden look fine).

I would welcome any thoughts on how to rescue them. Cutting back in late spring? Leaving them to it and hope they’ll revive and put out fresh growth?

RE: snow casualties by Julie Wise – written 05/03/2009 16:53:07

Heather – I would leave them until late May where you may find life at the base of the plant or perhaps even some new shoots on the stems.  I have two evergreens Cestrum parquii and Nerium oleander (a bit of a risk this one) that have lost all their leaves but the stems are still green.  My experience with the Nerium is that it will shoot from the base but not flower this year.  The Coronilla is found growing in scrubland in North Africa and Europe so probably enjoys well drained conditions, it hasn’t been that wet this winter just cold so will probably survive.  Anyhow leave a little longer me thinks.

RE: snow casualties by Alison K – written 28/02/2009 02:27:10

My Coronilla  died last year for no apparent reason. Do they just flower themselves to death?

Snow and frost casualties in Vancouver  (where the climate is, broadly speaking the same as ours and where they were taken by surprise by very heavy snow and low temperatures at Christmas) include Choisyas, Hebes, Ceanothus and Fatsia. So perhaps we have all been pushing our luck with what we have been growing.

 Mistletoe by Madeleine – written 05/02/2009 19:06:12

Jennifer Parker HHPS member has a very large growth of mistletoe on her small apple tree. In a few years time I would think the little tree will be over whelmed. She has given us bunches at Christmas time for probably 35 years. From time to time I have tried to get a seed to germinate on our large old apple tree, with different stages of ripeness, with/without mud, incisions or cracks of varying depth. All unsuccessful to date. As it is such a rampant plant I am thinking of trying to graft a young piece from a terminal branch onto our tree. Can anyone give me advice please.

RE: Mistletoe by Anne – written 07/02/2009 22:26:39

I have never tried myself but the following website seems to have a pretty comprehensive guide to having a go!  Good luck

RE: RE: Mistletoe by Julie Wise – written 13/02/2009 13:15:20

This website gives very comprehensive advice so I may try and grow some myself. I know thaey can be pretty clever but I always wondered how a bird managed to peel back the bark of a tree and deposit the seed underneath!

Angelica gigas by Adrian de Baat – written 13/01/2009 13:58:58

I am rather fond of this late summer flowering umbellifer. Visitors also often comment on it. Unfortunately it is biennial and seems reluctant to self seed in our garden. Does anyone have any tips on growing it from seed? Does the seed need stratifying? I have tried sowing with fresh seed in autumn and then in spring, but with no luck in germination. I end up with buying another batch of plants from Anne! Come to think of it, perhaps she knows the secret!

Incidentally, I am growing Angelica archangelica and Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ this year, having been impressed with both at Chelsea last year. Is anyone also keen on these taller wilder looking plants?

RE: Angelica gigas by Julie Wise – written 21/01/2009 23:14:23


I am a great lover of umbellifers and have grown several here at the cottage the most successful being Angelica archangelica which self seeds everywhere and looks good , particularly in shade.  I have grown Angelica Gigas and Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ but without the success of self seeding.

A couple of years ago on a visit to Waltham Place,  owned by a member of the Oppenheimer family and planted by Henk Gerritson, one of my favourite gardens but not for the tidy mindied, I came across the seedheads of a very tall umbellifer Peucedanum verticillare which was statuesque at about 8ft tall and looked magnificent in the wild borders of The Walled Garden.  I bought a couple of plants which have yet to flower, like most umbellifers they are monocarpic so will die after flowering but there will be plenty of seed to collect.

If you don/t already own a copy I can reccommend the .HPS booklet on Umbellifers by Timothy Ingram

RE: Angelica gigas by Anne – written 14/01/2009 18:03:09

Obviously I am shooting myself in the foot here, but i get good germination results as follows;

I collect seed as it ripens and save it in the fridge. It is sown in early January and left somewhere where the tray will get frosted. I then bring the tray in at the beginning of March and put it in the propagator with a little bottom heat. Germination is then quite rapid.

I use this method for any seed that I have had problems with in the past and generally it works quite well.

Good luck (I don’t really mean that-times are hard!)

RE: RE: Angelica gigas by Roger – written 25/02/2009 22:47:30

I can confirm A. gigas needs stratification. I sowed Derry Watkins’ seed in autumn one year, left the tray in a cold frame and got good germination in spring. I don’t recall any self-seeding however.

RE: RE: Angelica gigas by Adrian de Baat – written 15/01/2009 08:55:59

Thanks, Anne – I will certainly try this method. By the way, never fear! If by chance I am successful then I will be able to spend the money saved on other interesting plants at the nursery – Centaurea benoistii readily springs to mind!

RE: Angelica gigas by Marion Jay – written 02/05/2012 10:59:46

A late submission here but, frustrated by A. gigas’s reluctance to germinate, I performed an experiment last September.  I filled two seed trays with the same compost and placed them in the same spot, outside in sunshine.  In one I sowed A. gigas seeds harvested when still red and shiny, i.e. at a stage normally considered unripe.  In the second, I sowed seeds from the same plant harvested when brown.  Both were sown immediately after harvesting, covered with mesh to prevent disturbance and both trays were watered equally.  The ‘unripe’ seeds germinated en masse within three weeks, whereas the seed tray with the brown ‘ripe’ seeds remained completely barren all winter.  I realised that the scarification through frost, which I’d always considered essential, wasn’t necessary.  I shall be sowing red, ‘unripe’ seed again this year and I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has success with the same method.

 Feeding Containerised Box Plants by Julie Wise – written 12/01/2009 19:08:36

I have several box globes in terracotta containers as features on my terrace and they are looking a little sad.  I re-pot them every couple of years  using a John Innes no. 3 compost and feed them an organic fertiliser annually.  I also remove the top few inches of soil and top up with fresh when not re-potting.  Can anyone recommend a high nitrogen feed, organic or otherwise to perk them up a bit.  I do not want to re-pot again as the containers are large enough.  I also water regularly and fortunately there is not sign of disease.  I have thought about planting them in the ground and also those pots in the shade seem to flourish.

Perhaps I have answered my own question!

RE: Feeding Containerised Box Plants by Adrian de Baat – written 12/01/2009 23:14:55

I expect you already know this, but Chempak No. 2 is a good high nitrogen soluble fertiliser, which I have had success with. It is is available in most garden centres.

RE: RE: Feeding Containerised Box Plants by Julie Wise – written 14/01/2009 14:41:53

Thank you Adrian, I have only tried organic fertilisers in the past but will buy your recommendation and will keep you informed of the results.

 Euphorbia mellifera by Madeleine – written 10/01/2009 22:13:30

I bought a tiny plant from the HHPS plant table some years back. It is now about 8ft high and become quite leggy and unsightly.  It has seeded around but all the seedlings are in cracks in the paving and impossible to transplant. If I take a saw to the parent plant will it bush up and rejuvenate or should I dig it out and start again? Chance it and see what happens?

 RE: Euphorbia mellifera by Helen Cullens – written 05/02/2009 14:51:13

We have an old plant about 15 years old which has survived all sorts of treatment.   It grows to about 6ft high and wide, but has some support.   I cut all the flowered stems out every year right to the ground.     If you let some of the stems sag they will help to disguise the legs of the others behind them.   The sap is very irritating so don’t let it remain on your skin and you probably need goggles if you mince it….   It is an excellent plant especially when wafting honey scents around the garden.

 RE: Euphorbia mellifera by Julie Wise – written 12/01/2009 11:00:49

Madeleine – I have several plants in my own garden seeded from the mother plant but fortunately in the right place.  I generally cut mine back after flowering, in July sometime and with the poor soil they are growing in this seems to keep them in check.  The mother plant was knocked back by a hard frost some years ago and regrew from the base.

If you cut back this spring, not before, your plant should shoot from the base or you could wait and enjoy the honey scented flowers  then cut back completely leaving any young shoots to flower next year (these should be showing now).  You are then left with the problem of a gap left by an 8ft high specimen, I would suggest filling this with tall annuals eg Ricinus communis, Atriplex hortensis or Helianthus annuus until the Euphorbia has a chance to grow.

When they get leggy they aren’t particularly attractive plants, grasses eg Anamenthele leesoniana planted in front can help disguise the bare stems and this evergreen grass also picks up the colours of the Euphorbia.

I hope this helps.

HPS Seed list by Meta – written 03/01/2009 16:31:16

The annual list has an amazing collection of seeds for the members to try their hands at growing on. The only snag is trying to identify the plant names! I have several books and catalogues that I usually refer to – including RHS publications – but many of the names do not get a mention in any of them. I would be very grateful for advice on reference books on hardy plants – especially with a view to identify the seed list!

RE: HPS Seed list by Julie Wise – written 07/01/2009 11:38:36

I would agree with Anne the internet is certainly invaluable also try independent nursery catalogues, Woottens of Wenhaston in Suffolk print their excellent The Plantsman’s Handbook which is full of interesting information and Bob Brown has some great advice about the plants he sells on his own website at Cotswold Garden Flowers.  Alternatively try this forum someone might know/grown said plant.

RE: HPS Seed list by Anne – written 06/01/2009 14:11:57

If I cannot find a particular plant in any of my books, I Google the name and end up with pages of information and invariably photos too.

I would, however, heartily recommend the RHS Encyclopaedia of Perennials which is fairly new, but so good I bought a copy for home and one for reference at the nursery

RE: RE: HPS Seed list by Meta – written 28/01/2009 14:46:58

Thank you, Annie, for recommending the RHS encyclopaedia of perennial plants. It really is excellent and far superior to my old RHS book. I have also found Derry Watkins website very helpful – lots of photographs to help with identification.

Galanthus by Madeleine – written 20/12/2008 21:13:02

Galanthus elwesii Mrs McNamara.  Peter Dixon gave me a small number of bulbs many years ago saying they should flower by Christmas Day. Every year since you could set the date by them opening their buds on Christmas Eve. This year they opened on the 1st of December. Has anyone else found them flowering so early?

RE: Galanthus by Heather – written 22/12/2008 19:16:18

Mine have just fully opened in the last couple of days. I thought they might be later this year with the colder Autumn, but still not as early as 1st Dec.

RE: RE: Galanthus by Diana – written 17/12/2011 16:51:44

I’ve come into the forum to share my amazement that my G Mrs McNamara are well up and in flower.   unfortunately I didn’t check earlier in the month.  like Madeleine’s mine usually flower on Christmas Day but didn’t last Christmas, they were later. .

Dianellas by Anne – written 15/12/2008 16:01:13

Has anyone got any thoughts on why i never get any flower, and therefore, no longed for purple berries on my Dianella tasmanica?

It was purchased at the Old Vicarage, East Rushton about 3years ago and has made a large clump of very healthy foliage in a well drained raised bed, near the back of the house, which is south facing and sheltered. If no one has any helpful advice it will  have to go & make way for something more better!

RE: Dianellas by Roger Trigg – written 29/12/2008 16:45:06

Same thing here. Mine flowered and berried for 2 years, then nothing for the past 2 years. Perhaps it needs a long hot summer.

RE: RE: Dianellas by Barbara Stalbow – written 30/12/2008 22:54:58

is year had the first flowers but no berries as a squirrel or pigeon was rather partial to the taste of the flowers.I think they are hungry plants and need a diet of tomato food if they are grown in pots

RE: Dianellas by Julie Wise – written 31/12/2008 16:18:22

is year had the first flowers but no berries as a squirrel or pigeon was rather partial to the taste of the flowers. I think they are hungry plants and need a diet of tomato food if they are grown in pots

Thanks for that – tomato food it is then Barbara.  I must admit my berries were eaten, mice I think.

RE: RE: Dianellas by Helen Cullens – written 29/12/2008 17:03:04

I have some dianellas whether tasmanica or not I don’t know, but they do flower and berry every year and have done so for ten years or so.   Mine are evergreen and run around in ordinary soil facing west;  I tried some in a shaded bed facing north and they did not thrive.   As they come from New Zealand they probably like our climate.

RE: RE: RE: Dianellas by Julie Wise – written 30/12/2008 09:37:57

Hi everyone, my Dianella is in a terracotta container, often neglected I must add and tucked away under other antipodean plants on the terrace, it also flowered initially but no more.  I tried nurturing it with a high potash feed but no luck, it provides a good strappy foliage element so I enjoy it for that alone, it also seems to be thriving with all that neglect.  I remember admiring Roger’s plant some time ago on an NGS open day.

RE: RE: RE: RE: Dianellas by Brian Franklin – written 13/01/2009 15:35:29

I don’t find Dianella Tasmanica particularly hardy and therefore grow it in a large pot which I sink into the ground in summer and keep in a cool greenhouse over winter. This means that the plant starts growing fairly early, maybe the longer season of growth helps as mine flowers and berries quite well. It seems to prefer being potbound but I do feed it well with Tomorite. I have a variegated variety which I cannot get into flower although it is treated as above.

RE: Dianellas by Adrian de Baat – written 15/12/2008 19:12:18

I must admit that I have also never been able to get mine to flower in a similarly sunny position. It has spread a bit via underground roots, popping up about a foot or so away – but no flowers. I will persist for a bit longer as I too would like to see the purple berries.

moss in lawns by Dennis Sandor – written 06/12/2008 17:31:54

I thought I would pass on to you a tip I learned from the Radlett Horticultural Society, about ridding moss from lawns.  I have tried this for a number of years, and found that this simple treatment is effective.   Of course, unless one treats the underlying cause, the moss will return, usually by the following year.

The best time to treat the lawn is between mid September and mid October,  preferably before the lawn is covered with leaves.   The treatment consists of spreading superphosphate on the whole lawn.   How much?    Quite a lot, but if laid on too thickly, it will smother the grass.  I spread it by hand-broadcasting.  Try not to breathe it in.   Being a fertiliser, it does not matter if it gets onto to plants or borders.

After a couple of days and some rain or heavy dew, you will notice the moss turn black.   The superphosphate acts as an autumn fertiliser for the grass.  You will see that, over the winter, the grass will (slowly) recolonise the patches left by the moss.

Superphosphate is not very soluble.  If your subsoil is chalky (typical in our area) the calcium should prevent the phosphate getting into ground water.  If the soil and subsoil are acidic, then the phosphate may get into ground water, and you may not wish to use this treatment.

Other treatments are – spring, lawn sand;  and in the summer, ferrous sulphate (the active ingredient in lawn sand, without the nitrate).    I have found it difficult to get the dosage right.    Both these will kill some broadleaved weeds too.

These treatments avoid using the poisons found in most moss killers.   Rather they create an environment in which grass thrives and moss dislikes.

RE: moss in lawns by Adrian de Baat – written 06/12/2008 19:29:30

I think that in the long term the answer to keeping lawns moss-free is good drainage. In my experience moss tends to grow either in very wet spots where water just sits following rain, or it colonises area of the lawn where the grass is growing poorly due to shade or soil compaction. I have found that, although quite hard work, spiking the lawn to a depth of three to four inches -particularly the bad areas – in autumn and early winter has greatly improved the quality of our lawn and kept it (fingers crossed) largely free of moss.

ferns by meta – written 03/12/2008 13:33:42

Should I cut off all the fronds of my Matteuccias in the Spring as the new crooks are coming up? If so, should it be done every year?

RE: ferns by Adrian de Baat – written 06/12/2008 19:11:06

I cut off the fronds of mine every year in February during the final clean-up of all the perennial plants, just as the new season is beginning.

RE: ferns by Alison – written 04/12/2008 11:08:24

Yes that’s what I would do – it’s a deciduous fern so the old fronds die back each year. You need to take care not to damage the new fronds coming through.

Stipa tenuissima by Heather – written 05/11/2008 17:20:13

When is the best time to do the ‘push down’ technique you recommended at your talk?

RE: Stipa tenuissima by Roger Trigg – written 29/12/2008 16:43:26

I prefer to give it a short back ‘n sides in February. Within days new leaves appear with all the old brown stuff gone. I do the same with S. gigantea which unless cut back hard often looks a bit of a mess – it comes back vigorously year after year.

RE: Stipa tenuissima by annie – written 05/11/2008 18:00:33

Anytime there is an excess of ‘blond’ foliage that you want to get rid of. Usually this means once around the beginning of Sept, again anytime now and possibly a little pull in early spring. It’s an on-going occasional tidy rather than a once a year job.

2 thoughts on “The Old Forum

  1. I love this plant but have managed to kill two so far, extreme cold and incorrect pruning possibly the reasons. If you scroll up through the questions you’ll see some comments about Coronilla which might help your problem.Feeding could maybe help too

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