BRIAN KIDD: ...on a cuckoo in the nest and this week’s jobs to be done

Bay tree trimmed into a giant circular lollipop shape. 'Picture: Brian Snelson
Bay tree trimmed into a giant circular lollipop shape. 'Picture: Brian Snelson
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Brian answers readers’ queries

Q: I bought a potted camellia which looks marvellous. About three inches from the main stem is a baby plant which is four inches high, but the leaves look much smaller than the camellia’s. Do you think I have two camellias in one pot? HD, Denvilles.

A: Thanks for sending samples of both leaves. The seedling is a bay tree. Hook it out, put it into a pot and during next autumn plant it in a place where it can grow. Bay trees can be pruned to any shape.

Q: Last year my peas looked really good, but suddenly the stems shrivelled and I saw red lines running through them. Do you know what caused this problem?

LD, Fareham.

A: This problem is a fungal disease called fusarium or red thread disease and there is no cure. The variety Ambassador is resistant and the disease may still strike, but the crop will not fail.
If you fork in a tablespoon of Copper Mixture along two yards of the peas when they are a foot high this will also be helpful.

Q:I can’t find tubers of gloxinia. I have been everywhere without luck. Can you help me please? I think this is one of the best plants ever. Dot, Fratton.

A: I remember you wrote to me several years ago Dot and you sent a photo of your gloxinia. Good news, you will find them in pots in full bloom at Keydell Nurseries, I saw them last Friday in the greenhouse where the parrots are kept.

Q: I would like some Begonia Non Stop but can’t find the seeds. JD, Cowplain.

A: Have a look at the seedlings ready to prick out. You will find these at your garden centre but hurry because they sell very quickly.

Q: My evergreen viburnum keeps dying back, what would you suggest? LD, East Ashling.

A: This is a fungal problem called viburnum dieback. Simply cut out infected areas regularly. If you do this on a regular basis the shrub will survive. If left unpruned the disease will slowly kill the entire shrub. Put secateurs in boiling water for five minutes after pruning to sterilise them.


• In the greenhouse or indoors, sow gloxinia seeds. They grow quickly and will flower in their pots from July onwards.

• This is a good time to split clumps of nerine bulbs. Remove groups of five and replant in another part of the garden, making sure only half the depth of the bulb is below the soil’s surface. They love a sunny place and the books tell us they prefer well-drained soil, but at home they are in soil which remains wet most of the winter.

• Where are cabbages to be planted? All types of cabbage need lime in the soil. Apply it at 4-8oz per square yard where cabbages will be planted. Scatter blood fish and bone meal where seeds are to be sown in 10 days time. Rake the fertiliser into the top three inches of soil as soon as it is applied.

• See if you can find little plants of Brussels sprouts called Cromwell. This variety has replaced the best early one called Peer Gynt. If you can’t find seedlings at your garden centre grow some from seeds. Seeds can be planted now, but sow them in insert cells. When they are large enough to plant into rows remember, two-and-a-half feet is the minimum distance between the plants and the soil must be firm. These sprouts will be ready to pick in early September and will last until November if you buy enough plants.

• Isn’t it annoying to see all the weeds appearing on the ground we dug earlier in the season? Don’t walk all over the soil, put down that plank and walk on the plank to prevent over-compaction of the soil before hoeing or perhaps you can carefully spray the weeds with ready-to-spray Weedol. This saves a lot of work but don’t allow the drift to go onto other folks’ crops or onto plants you need to grow.

• Move snowdrops and winter aconites as soon as the flowers fade. You will also see them advertised ‘in the green’ in the adverts at the back of the monthly gardening magazines. Only £10 per 100 seedlings.

• There is still time to prune bush roses. Simply prune back the branches down to where you see a strong looking shoot which is pointing away from the stem, not towards the centre of the bush.

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