This week’s questions for Brian
Q: Please can you tell me the name of the plant in the photo enclosed and also the name of the leaf of another plant. PS, Portsmouth.
A: The beautiful red flower in the photo is oleander which is a tender shrub. I am not able to give you the name of the single leaf. Sorry. Please send a shoot with a flower in dry newspaper and I will be able to help you.
Q: I have a wonderful passion flower which grows along a fence. The blooms have been a picture and there are dozens of beautiful golden fruits. Are they edible and do I need to do any pruning? MP, Petersfield.
A: I was very pleased about your passion flower and yes, it covers fences really well. The fruits are edible and can be made into a kind of lemon curd. Wait until the end of November and look where the thick shoots are and cut off all the trailers right back to the thick stems. New shoots will form next spring when you will have masses of new growth, flowers all summer and fruits in autumn.
Q: My mum loves potted plants and has all sorts and seems to be able to grow almost anything. It is her birthday and I want to buy her an orchid in a pot. What would you suggest? LF, Havant.
A: I would suggest buying her a phalenopsis orchid. These gems can be bought at garden centres at any time of year and they will be in bloom, which means you can choose the one you like best. A lot of people keep these in bloom all year because they use the correct liquid feed. There are two types. One induces flowers, the other encourages growth.
TASKS FOR THE NEXT WEEK
If you want to get outside, clean the inside of the greenhouse. Wash the glass with Flash floor cleaner. This mops up red spider eggs too. Clean the staging too. The last job is the floor. If it’s soil, just sweep it up.
Sort empty flower pots. Soak in washing-up water and scrub. Allow to dry and then ‘file’ in the correct sizes. Do a few each day.
Examine seed catalogues. Some seed houses offer discounts for early orders.
Plan a few changes in the garden and decide what you would like to complete before the end of winter.
Sow seeds of early peas in insert cells, two in each cell. Feltham First is good as it needs no heat. Keep in a protected spot like a cold frame. Protect from mice which will eat the lot in 48 hours. Use a plank supported on two plastic buckets. Mice can’t climb the sides of buckets. Place the cells in the trays on the plank. If sown in the soil, they are even more prone to mice.
Make an appointment to have the mower serviced.
Cut down runner bean vines. When digging the ground, chop up the knobbly roots. They are full of nitrogen and are as good as manure when they are rotting down. Clean the runner bean sticks and make a cradle to keep them dry and off the ground. This will prolong their usefulness.
Got a question for Brian? E-mail him via firstname.lastname@example.org.