Questions and answers

Dahlias - one of the boldest plants you can grow .

GARDENING: Brian Kidd is planning for summer with dahlias

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Brian answers readers’ queries

We have just moved and there is a heap of wood ash from a log burner. Is this of any use in the garden? KH, Farlington.

Yes. Scatter it over the soil and lightly fork it in. It is particularly useful if you grow fruit, roses and shrubs. Wonderful around rows of potatoes too. Slugs and snails hate ash.

My garden is very small and a camellia dominates. I would like to prune it really hard to shape it like a standard rose. Would this work and when should I prune it? HD, Cosham.

This is a good idea and many readers will be interested in your suggestion. In small gardens standard camellias are a good idea and the pruning can be done in one go and the time is right now.

My dad is moving into a flat and has a clump of nerines (pictured) in his garden. Could I dig them up and put them into my garden? G, Cosham.

This is not the best time but if you lift them with a huge clod of soil and plant them straight away, go ahead. They’ll flower in autumn. If you want to split the clump do this as soon as the flowers fade.

Our clematis Bees Jubilee is much paler this year. Is there anything we can do to make the flowers return to normal? H & DP, Hayling Island.

If you water it with the Maxicrop you bought for your tomatoes you’ll see a better colour on the blooms which are just buds at the moment. This fertiliser works very quickly.


Stop cutting asparagus. The stems now need to grow so the fern-like leaves can send nutrients to the roots. This encourages next year’s crop. Give the plants a feed of blood, fish and bone. Fork into the soil and water afterwards.

Sow seeds of calceolaria pot plants in the greenhouse. This is a job often forgotten. The beautiful balloon-like flowers will bloom next spring in a frost-free greenhouse.

Enjoy picking strawberries from the garden, but get into the habit of taking a bucket in which to place weeds. Strawberries quickly become smothered in weeds.

Keep removing side shoots on tomatoes. Do this regularly. If the bunches of fruits are heavy, use twist ties to support the trusses on the canes.

Spray outdoor tomatoes and potatoes with Bordeaux mixture to prevent blight. I get my leg pulled about this because I warn of blight so often, but at least it shows you are reading these articles!

Start thinning grapes.