Your gardening questions answered… with the Woodland Trust

We’ve been treated to such beautiful weather recently, giving us plenty of opportunities to spend long afternoons in the garden.

We asked you if you had any gardening questions that only an expert can answer, and you certainly did! We put them to Sue Roe OBE, gardener for the Woodland Trust…

What vegetables can I grow now?

From seed, sow French beans, courgettes, late-sowing peas, salad leaves, radishes, Swiss chard and  ‘Autumn King’ carrots. Or source small plants (and winter greens and tomatoes) by mail order, nurseries and garden centres.  Check out the RHS ‘Grow Your Own’ app.

What flowers are best to plant for the winter season?

For borders, plant spring snowdrop bulbs from online suppliers. Hellebores are available online or at specialist nurseries. For winter interest, consider evergreen shrubs: Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’, hollies, box and pittosporums. For winter pots, from September garden centres will have pansies, violas, polyanthus, primroses and Bellis perennis.

What’s the best treatment for patchy grass?

Don’t try until September unless you can keep off the patches and remember to water. Rake the patch, aerate with a fork then follow the instructions on the seed packet. Cover with a sand/compost mix and remember to water, and keep birds away.

What’s a good way to improve grass that’s full of weeds?

Wait until September when there is more moisture around. If you want a perfect lawn, weed and feed with a commercial product then scatter new seed on bare patches. Keep mowing your lawn – not too often or too short – and water when dry. Manually remove dandelions if they drive you mad but try leaving the grass quite long and embrace any weeds that pop up. Bees will thank you.

I need some inspiration for what to plant in pots that will attract bees and butterflies!

Be quick and plant seed collections specially for pollinators. Bee-friendly annuals on sale now include: cosmos, zinnias, alyssum and sunflowers.  Also herbs like coriander, parsley and chervil but remember to leave them flower. Or grow perennials like verbenas, hardy geraniums, sedums and salvias. Water pots most days.

Recommendations for the best type of flowering climbers?

  • Nothing beats the beauty and scent of climbing roses like American Pillar, Emily Grey and New Dawn.
  • Clematis. (Support both roses and clematis unless they grow up a sturdy tree).
  • Trachelospermum jasminoides (Star Jasmine) an evergreen twining climber that smells fantastic.

What’s the best depth needed for a vegetable patch?

Eight inches for salad crops but if you are growing root crops dig a minimum of 12 inches and up to 20 inches.

What’s the best way to deal with lupin aphids?

You can buy commercial sprays but I wouldn’t as they also can affect bees and other insects. Instead,  mix  soapy water  (mix washing-up liquid at usual dilution) in a hand sprayer.  Good luck! They are persistent critters.

Thanks Sue! That’s definitely given us a few ideas…

Do you have any gardening questions for Sue? Let us know in the comments below, or pop us a message on Instagram.

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