GARDENING: Readers’ questions answered

Green-leafed Japanese maples.
Green-leafed Japanese maples.
Cyclamen, often the only bright spot in the garden in winter.

GARDENING: Time to start thinking of winter, says Brian Kidd

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Problems this week ranging from the Beast From The East  to a mystery rose.

Q: The beast from the east attacked my lovely green-leafed Japanese maples and some branches have died. What would you suggest? FJ, Denmead.

A: Japanese maples are best pruned when they are in full leaf in July. Cut back the dead wood right down to where you can see healthy leaves. Water afterwards and you will be surprised how the maple will build a lovely shape. Keep in mind they are never evenly shaped, that’s

one of the reasons they look so attractive.

Q: I have a wonderful rose but the person who planted it did not keep the label. Can you tell me the name (two petals enclosed)? RW, Southsea.

A: I’m sorry but I am unable to tell you the name. Go to a garden centre to see if you can find the one you’re growing. Beautiful roses are always grown in large numbers. You may be lucky in finding the name.

Q: I have just taken over a small allotment and at one end it seems a water pipe was laid and I have an area one metre wide and nine metres long of solid clay. It is brick hard but my neighbour tells me it gets wet in winter and that is why no one else wants this plot. What should I do? GC, Fareham.

A: Allotments officers are helpful people. Send a pleasant letter to Fareham Borough Council. I am confident they will help you. An alternative is to buy some wood about 12cm wide and make a raised bed on top of the clay.

Q: My sweet Williams are beautiful and one particular favourite is a rose pink colour. If I save the seeds from this one will the seedlings be the same colour? GM, Old Portsmouth.

A: The seedlings will be mixed colours, but there will be some pink flowers too.

Got a question for Brian? Click here and fire away.