Martes, Marso 1, 2011


Primroses Epitomising the coming of spring, you can't have too many of them. I collect their seed to sow when the seedpods are fat to bursting but still green. Foxgloves Perfect for a shady spot, and great self-seeders. I particularly love white ones. Hardy geraniums Happy in sun or shade. We have pink Geranium psilostemon growing everywhere at Glebe Cottage. Another favourite is the meadow cranesbill (Geranium pratense), an easy, self-seeding plant. Cosmos One of the easiest annuals to grow. White 'Purity' looks stunning. Parsley One of the most useful garden herbs, and it looks very pretty as well. Roses My favourite is the very old Rosa mundi. Go for roses that are disease-free and have a long flowering season. Borage A super plant and one of the best for attracting wildlife to the garden.

Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens' Prized for its gorgeous, smoky, purple-blue flowers. I like to sow it in March and plant it out in containers. Alchemilla mollis It will self-seed everywhere, but with its beautiful soft green leaves and pleated foliage it's one of my favourites. It's the perfect foil for the soft pink and blue flowers in the June garden. Ferns Ideal for damp, shady spots. Watching the fronds unfurl in late spring is always a magical sight - somehow they embody the power of nature.


Q I have a Macleaya cordata which is overtaking everything. It grows to about 2.75m (9ft) and seems to root everywhere. Even though I keep digging it out, it keeps growing.

Mrs E. Sheldrick, Surrey

A Macleaya cordata is a lovely herbaceous perennial, which will grow tall and spread quickly in heavy, fertile soil. My advice would be to keep on pulling and digging up the roots, rather than hacking at the top growth. Work away at the roots this spring, removing what you can and enjoying what remains.

Q My pond gets full of duckweed very quickly in summer. It makes good compost, but I'm fed up with clearing it.

How can I get rid of it for ever?

Mrs S. Partridge, Dyffryn Ardudwy, Gwynedd

A The simple answer is that you can't. However, you can minimise duckweed. It is introduced by plants and birds so is likely to appear repeatedly. It fares best in full sun, so shade will help, as will water lilies. A fountain will also help, as it keeps the water moving.

Q I have a four-year-old camellia in a large pot on my patio. Last spring it flowered and dozens of buds formed in summer. But in early autumn they all dropped off and this year it looks as though I will have no flowers. What went wrong? I usually feed it in summer but last year I didn't.

Pamela Winthrop, Surrey

A I would guess that when you fed your camellia it was with a liquid feed, and the liquid was just as important as the feed. Any plant in a pot needs regular watering, and a camellia, which constantly loses water through its leaves, needs it especially or it will defend itself by dropping next season's buds to reduce the demands on its roots. The simple fact is you haven't watered it enough. Camellias need plenty of water in late summer to make sure they have healthy buds for the following spring.

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