Brian Kidd answers your questions and suggests jobs for the coming week

Sweet William.
Sweet William.

Gardens open for day to raise money for charity

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Brian solves your horticultural conundrums

Q: I bought a pot of pink chrysanthemums and one of the flowers is yellow. Is this unusual? KHR, Cowplain.

A: This does happen, particularly with the variety Princess Anne. Enjoy the experience. If you take a cutting off the yellow part it will be yellow next year.

Q: Can you identify these seedlings please? There are dozens of them in a huge patch in my garden. I bet they‘re weeds! HF, Hilsea.

A: Thank you for wrapping them in dry newspaper. Good news – they are Sweet William seedlings. Prick them out now for flowers next June/July. They are beautiful plants, well-loved by bees.

Q: I’m growing raspberries called Polka on ground where raspberries have never grown before. The fruits are lovely but small. HC, Waterlooville.

A: You’ve made an important point. Polka must be grown where raspberries have never been grown before. Drench the row for three evenings running. On the fourth, drench with Maxicrop Complete plant food dissolved in water using two gallons on a 6ft row. Apply slowly using a rose on the can.

Q: My Brussels sprouts were growing well but the wind has pushed them over. JV, Waterlooville.

A: Buy some 3ft canes and after watering the soil thoroughly push one in on one side of the plant and another directly opposite. I am going to do this to mine as I have an allotment which is often battered by the wind.


If you’d like something beautifully rare, look out for sterbergia bulbs. I mentioned this twice last year but there were none to be found anywhere locally. So get hold of some before they all go. The 5in high yellow crocus flowers appear in autumn.

Take cuttings of pinks and carnations 5in long. Trim off all the leaves apart from the top seven and insert them into a 50/50 mix of sharp sand and vermiculite. Water with a half-strength feed of Maxicrop Growth Stimulant to encourage easy rooting.

Thin bunches of indoor grapes. Dust sulphur powder on the stems holding the fruit and use copper mixture on leaves which have powdery mildew.

Disbud dahlia bloom buds every few days to encourage flowers on longer stems and tie in chrysanthemums stems so they produce blooms with long stems.

Divide or move peonies. When replanting ensure the tops of the rhizomes are on the surface. If planted too deeply, they don’t produce flowers. If you don’t want to move or divide them, scrape away the surface of the soil below the foliage so you can see the tops of the rhizomes. They will then flower next summer.

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