BRIAN KIDD: Rusty pelargoniums? Here’s what to do

Zonal pelargoniums - without rust
Zonal pelargoniums - without rust

SOUTHSEA GREEN: Sharing the secret garden

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Our gardening expert answers your queries and has a list of jobs for the coming week. Click here to see previous columns.

My zonal pelargoniums are covered in rust on the lower leaves. I have picked them off carefully and put every one into a bag. Is there a spray I can use to stop this problem? NF, Old Portsmouth.

A: You have done the right thing as this will prevent the spread. This disease occurs in late September and can be very bad when it’s wet. There is a ready-to-spray product called Systhane which is very effective. Use it in August next year and you will prevent the disease.

Q: Can you tell me the botanic name for Chinese lanterns please? My grandparents grew them and I would love to have them in my garden. CP, Copnor.

A: The botanic name is physalis franchettii. You will find them in pots at Keydell if you are quick!

Q: Can Brompton stocks be left in the garden after flowering? We have a huge garden and need some blooms in June for a wedding in 2019. S and P, Horndean.

A: Yes, they are very hardy and if cut back rather like you would prune a spring-flowering shrub they will grow really tall. Well done planning flowers for a wedding 18 months in advance.

Q: We have just moved and a friend who is very good at gardening has told us to keep the shrubs although some of them are overgrown. When would you suggest we do some really hard pruning? There is a huge area of weeds and grass which we think was once a lawn with gently curved edges but blackberries make it look impossible. H and G L, Hayling Island.

A: Your friend has given you some very good advice. Simply prune back shrubs which are a nuisance but do the main pruning in spring as soon as the shrubs have finished flowering. When you move and inherit a mature garden you will be amazed how good it will look in spring. If you really want to do an important job, get that grass cut and remove the blackberries as soon as you can.

JOBS FOR THE COMING WEEK

•Keep cutting the grass. It’s much easier and quicker to cut if done regularly. If the grass is a bit too wet, drag a stiff broom behind you over the surface. This makes the water droplets fall on to the soil and an hour later the grass is easier to cut.

•If you intend treating wooden garden furniture with a preservative to restore its quality, choose the correct product. Ensure the wood is dry otherwise moisture will be locked in.

•Buy fragrant long-stemmed exhibition sweet pea seeds ready to sow next month. They are more expensive but if you love perfumed sweet peas it’s worth paying a bit more.

•Try to get hedges trimmed before cold winds arrive. This will be the last trim required this year – hooray!

•Keep mentioning that an electric hedge trimmer would be a good idea to your wife’s best friend. Your wife might buy one for you for Christmas.

•Take a lot more care about watering the greenhouse. From now until spring, watering is best done in the mornings. Take care not to splash it around as wet conditions encourage fungal problems.

•In the greenhouse plan to keep a small area warmer by dividing the greenhouse with bubbled polythene sheeting.

•Try to get some more digging done. Bear in mind it is a good idea to complete winter digging before Christmas. Wish I could.

•Plant a horse chestnut conker and a walnut in a pot and next year plant it somewhere so the children in 30 years can get the nuts without breaking windows.

Got a question for Brian? Click here and fire away.