Gardening | Brian Kidd solves your problems

Chinese lanterns.
Chinese lanterns.
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Shining a light on Chinese lanterns

Q: I love cottage gardening and grow lots of plants from seed sown directly into the soil. I want some Chinese lanterns but they won’t grow from seed. Where can I buy a couple of plants? DN, Horndean.

A: You will find them in pots with lanterns already on the plants next April or May at your nearest garden centre. They sell well because they are such lovely plants and children love them.

Q: We have a patch of bare ground on the lawn where we always walk. I have sown grass seed but it never gets a chance to become established. CM, Cosham

A: Buy an attractive paving stone and lay it on the worn grass. Work a sharp knife around the edge of the stone to about the depth of the stone. Lift the stone and remove the dead turf. Place the stone into the area to ensure the stone is at the right height and gently tap the stone. Job done!

Q: I have a huge shrub rose with pink flowers but it is three times too wide and nearly eight feet tall. I want to know when to prune it really hard. I will have to use a pruning saw. GS, Emsworth.

A: Please don’t do this now. Prune as hard as you like, even down to a foot high, as soon as it finishes flowering next summer. It is amazing, even when pruned severely the rose will still have flowers next summer. Give it a feed of rose fertilser as soon as the pruning has finished. Fork this into the soil and water afterwards.

Q: Where can I get my shears sharpened? FP, Waterlooville.

A: There is a hardware shop at Denmead.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​