Brian Kidd has some timely advice for getting the best out of your japonicas and some tasks for the week ahead

Your questions answered

Saturday, 6th February 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th February 2016, 4:54 am
Japonica chaenomeles

Q: My neighbour has very large bamboo trees at the bottom of her garden. My garden gets full of leaves especially with the wind and takes root. I am continually pulling up shoots. I have spoken to her about it but she refuses to have them cut back. She has a gardener who just cuts the grass. He also told me she won’t let him touch them. The back alleyway leading to my garage is also covered with leaves. I get on very well with my neighbour so don’t want any bad feeling but the bamboo is a menace. Have you any advice you can give me please? Gloria.

A: Your neighbour does not realise how you feel about the nuisance, I would advise you to speak nicely to her and ask her if she will arrange for her gardener to pick up the leaves and remove them from your garden and alleyway. She may then understand what a nuisance this is.

You can kill off the shoots on your land by cutting down the canes leaving two inches of hollow stems and filling them with Roundup following the dilution rates on the container. Use a watering can with a fine tube, do not use a rose on the can. This will stop every shoot from regrowing if you do the job properly. The Roundup herbicide may kill off some of the canes in your neighbours garden but this is unlikely.

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Q: We have a japonica shrub (above) on a wall and it is just starting to come into flower. Trouble is that in a few weeks the leaves will hide the blooms. Is it possible to prune it to prevent this problem? BD, Fareham.

A: This answer will help lots of readers. Yes, prune now. Deal with one branch at a time and you will see where the flower buds are growing. Prune back really hard every branch which has no flower buds .Some branches will have flower buds very close to the main stems. Cut these branches back to where the flower buds are seen. Be really patient and you will find this method very successful.

Q: We decided to clean the glass in our greenhouse but it’s not really clear as we have very chalky water. Any ideas?

H and LU, Paulsgrove.

A: After washing the glass use one part vinegar in four parts water as a rinse.

Q: We have just moved to Hayling Island and the garden has a lovely overall design, but there are no shrubs. The previous owners had bedding plants when we looked at the garden but they are gone and the beds are empty. We will be too busy to plant annuals but would be grateful if you can give us a guide to shrubs which will survive salt spray and wind? H and LR, Hayling Island.

A: I’ve sent you a list of suitable plants, but the best idea is to concentrate on growing evergreens which have silver and grey leaves.

Q: We have a Magnolia liliflora Nigra and want to take a cutting. When is the best time? NC, Farlington.

A: It would be a good idea to root this by using a method called aerial layering. I have sent you a diagram to show you how to do this.

Q: Our mimosa is just coming into bloom and we want to keep it small by pruning. When should the pruning be undertaken? GD, Purbrook.

A: Prune the mimosa as soon as the flowers fade. Prune every side branch to half the length. Be bold, it will reward you with lots of flowers next year.


Brush the lawn. This will enable you to pick up lots of debris which goes into the compost bin. The lawn will look a lot smarter afterwards.

•Sow single seeds of early cauliflower in insert cells in a cold greenhouse. You won’t need more than 12 because they all come to fruition at the same time. Sow another batch in the same way in a month’s time.

•Prune autumn-fruiting raspberries now. Simply cut off every shoot down to soil level. Then spread a 4in layer of well-rotted manure over the border where they are growing.

•Green seeded broad beans can be sown now in a cold greenhouse or cold frame. Plant one seed in each insert cell and they will germinate in about three weeks. Don’t over-water the compost or the beans will rot. Remember, all types of green seeded broad beans are not hardy, so, don’t sow them outdoors until the first week in April.

•Begonia tubers can be planted in the greenhouse now.

•Seeds of fragrant exhibition sweet peas can be sown now. Sow single seeds in deep pots. They need no heat but ensure they are well-protected from mice. Mice eat sweet pea seeds as if there’s no tomorrow.

•Get as much digging done on the vegetable garden as possible. Continue to leave large clods so frost can break the soil into a good tilth.

Got a question for Brian? E-mail him via [email protected]