BRIAN KIDD: Readers’ problems and jobs for the week ahead

How to rid your garden of ivy
How to rid your garden of ivy
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This week’s gardening dilemmas

Q: Please can you tell me what is wrong with my evergreen shrub? Why didn’t my laburnum have a good show of flowers this year? It normally flowers well. SS, Denmead.

A:The shrub has been infected with phytopthora fungal disease. Cut out the dead parts and water the roots with copper mixture, using one tablespoon to a gallon of water. Apply two gallons slowly. The laburnum needs a feed. Fork over the soil and scatter over half an ounce of sulphate of potash per square yard, over several square yards, in September. Water afterwards.

Q: I acquired this plant some time ago and it has thrived on neglect. Can you tell me the name please? I gave it some feed and cut off all the odd leaves, then flowers appeared. How do I look after it? MR, Fareham.

A: This is a Crassula, sometimes called dragon, succulent. It is a plant which thrives on neglect but surprises everyone with its pretty flower heads. Simply keep on doing what you are doing and feed it once a month from April but stop in September.

Q: Please can you tell me how to get rid of ivy? It has taken over my garden. HT, Wymering.

A: SBK brushwood killer will be most effective. It kills all plants but not grass.You can only buy it at garden centres in a ready-to-spray container, but it’s also available as a concentrate. This can be applied all over the leaves using a long-handled paint roller. The leaves will turn brown and die in three weeks. If areas do not die off another application will be needed.

You need to be patient.

Q: I have been given a lovely shrub called calceolaria, it has yellow flowers like masses of bubbles and I have never seen it before. Can I take cuttings for friends? K F, East Ashling.

A: Yes, cuttings are taken now. Take off shoots about four inches long, remove all the leaves apart from the top two pairs and cut under the joint. Insert a very sandy compost, 50% seed compost and 50% sharp sand. Keep moist and in the shade in a frost free glasshouse. Roots will appear in four weeks. Pot each one into a three inch pot in John Innes number one compost, keep in the glasshouse and plant out after the third week in May next year.


– Now the weather has changed, mow the lawn in a different direction the next time it needs a cut. This reduces weeds because a lot of them lay flat on the surface when the lawn is always cut in the same direction.

– There is still time to move nerine bulbs. When replanting, they are best grown in groups with only half-an-inch of space between individual bulbs. They can also be divided and planted in tight groups and this will ensure they flower this autumn. Leave about a third of the depth of the bulb out of the soil in a sunny place.

– Buy a pack of Anemone De Caen. Plant five corms around the edge of a flower pot five inches in diameter in John Innes number two compost. Once the pot is filled with roots and without disturbing the root ball, plant them where you want to enjoy the flowers and you will always be successful in growing anemones.

– If you enjoy garlic, try to find garlic grown in the Isle of Wight. You will often see it labelled proudly. This strain grows well on the southern mainland and can be planted during the end of September for early cropping next year.

– Did you remember to sow seeds of spring hearting cabbage? If not, do it now.

I did say I would remind you!

– As the length of the dqay becomes shorter, the weeds grow faster – fact . Try to hand weed before the weeds flower, this breaks into the weed’s life-cycle and they can be added to the compost bin.

– Flowers in tubs and containers are looking over their best in many gardens. Don’t give up, trim back the tips of the plants, remove all dead flowers and water them with half strength Maxicrop Complete Liquid Fertiliser every other day for a week, and in two weeks time, the plants will look refreshed again.

After all that, have a rest in the shade.

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