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

Viburnum Gwenllian.
Viburnum Gwenllian.
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Q: Can you tell me the name of the shrub enclosed. It has come up from an old root. Is it worth keeping? JSP, Milton.

A: It’s wild dogwood which grows in large patches on Portsdown Hill. I would not grow it in my garden.

Q: I have a viburnum Gwenllian which normally flowers all winter. Last year the flowers didn’t open. What can I do to encourage it to flower properly again? MJS, Portchester.

A: Fork under the canopy of the shrub and scatter sulphate of potash over the surface using only half an ounce per square yard and fork it into the soil. Then water.

Q: I bought a compact cherry tree and had a few fruits, but the leaves curled and shrivelled. I sprayed with an insecticide, but things didn’t improve. JL, Bedhampton.

A: This is cherry black aphid. In late spring they are all females and lay nine more every day for three weeks. Within a week all the young do the same. Result – masses of aphids. Use insecticide once the leaves are almost fully developed and repeat the spray after five days. Spray at least three more times.

Q: We bought an olive tree about 14 years ago and it’s growing in a 15in diameter pot. My wife keeps it in shape, but the olives are only 2mm. N and MH, Cosham.

A: All olives produce fruits. Remove from pot, shake off the old compost and replant in John Innes No3 compost adding 10 per cent sharp sand. Mix well. In April start feeding the pot with liquid tomato fertiliser monthly until September then stop. Start again the following April.


This is the last time to sow grass seed for a new lawn. Get it done before October because grass seed germinates well while the ground is warm and damp.

Patches on lawns can be repaired quickly. Put 1lb of good quality grass seed to 10lbs of moistened seed compost and mix well. Place in a black polythene bag for a week to chit the seeds. Prick over the grass with a digging fork and then scatter over the chitted seed and compost and water afterwards. This amount will repair about 5sq yards.

Sow seeds of larkspur in little patches where they are to flower. They are perfectly hardy. Choose a sunny area in well-drained soil.

n Give Autumn Bliss raspberries a high potash liquid feed if there are lots of green berries and flowers. The flowers will then provide ripe fruits in four weeks.

Plant daffodils but don’t forget other little gems such as chionodoxa, scilla, iris reticulata and anemone blanda. These all give us something to look forward to next spring.

Hoe through wallflower plants or better still hand weed the rows as chick weed quickly smothers the plants at this time of year.

Remove runners on newly-planted strawberry plants or layer them into 3in diameter pots if more are needed.
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