Questions, answers and jobs for the coming week

Rudbeckia fulgida
Rudbeckia fulgida
Dahlias - one of the boldest plants you can grow .

GARDENING: Brian Kidd is planning for summer with dahlias

Have your say

Brian answers readers’ horticultural questions

Can you tell me if the specimen enclosed is a dahlia or rudbeckia. A correct name would be very helpful. CH, Farlington.

I was pleased your sample arrived in perfect condition as it was in dry paper. It is called rudbeckia fulgida (pictured) which is a magnificent autumn-flowering herbaceous plant.

I have patches on my lawn and have heard you have a remedy. What should I do? NH, Fareham.

Mix 1lb of quality grass seed with 10lb of moist John Innes seed compost. Put the mixture in a black polythene bag for 10 days. This will be enough for seven square yards. The seeds will send out little roots. Prick over the damaged areas with a digging fork making lots of holes two to three inches deep. Scatter the mix and the seeds will fall in the holes. Water and the lawn will be quickly restored. Best done in early September but do it now while the weather is mild.

When can I plant shallots? My onions were terrible, but my grandpa told me shallots are easy peasy. PH, Fareham.

Shallots should be planted in a well-drained spot in a sunny place on the shortest day of the year. Your grandpa is correct. They are easy to grow and have a better flavour than large onions.

Can I prune my fan-trained apple now or wait until after the frosts? HF, Hambledon.

Pruning of apples and pears can be done now. All stone fruits are pruned whilst in full leaf, but before St Swithun’s Day (July 15).


Plant garlic if you live in the south, Split the bulbs into segments called pips. Plant two inches deep in well-drained ground, a place where manure was incorporated last year. The Elephant type? Plant the whole bulb. Cover the tip with two inches of soil, each bulb eight inches from the next.

Sow seeds of Virginian stocks or night-scented stocks at the front of a border, They are hardy and will provide short plants about eight inches high with small perfumed flowers next summer.

Save egg cartons so when the seed potatoes are ready to be set up, you will have plenty of egg trays in which to keep them upright. Seed potatoes will be in the garden centres in January.

Clean the glass on the outside of the greenhouse. There are glass cleaners specially produced for this job or Flash, the floor cleaner, also does a good job.

Put up polythene bubbled insulation in the greenhouse, Choose a dull day to prevent becoming too hot or uncomfortable due to the sun in the eyes.

Remove weeds from alpine plants and afterwards top dress the soil surface with stone chippings, this prevents heart rot and keeps mud off the foliage.

Buy seeds of fragrant exhibition sweet peas, they are often sown in November by serious growers, you will see if they are perfumed. It will say so on the seed packet. Exhibition types have long stems.

Cut off leaves on wallflowers which have powdery mildew, don’t leave the pieces lying around