A rose for Christmas

The Northern Echo: Snow queen: Helleborus niger

12:01pm Saturday 18th December 2010

Buried by snow and ice, hellebores are tough little flowers that won’t be beaten by Arctic conditions.

Gardener’s friend or foe?

11:31am Friday 19th March 2010

Sharon, from Spennymoor, has been digging over the beds in her allotment and has found a lot of curled up, fat, grey/green grubs just under the surface. She has been throwing them in for the chickens to feed on but would like to know if they are the gardener’s friend or foe.

Pruning a clematis

11:17am Friday 12th March 2010

MR Charlton, from Hartlepool, has a clematis that has grown up and over his garage, and flowers every summer.

Chitting potatoes

10:35am Friday 5th March 2010

Mr Sweeting, from Barnard Castle has emailed me a question. He wants to know why he should chit his potatoes, and could I just run through the conditions that they require for him.

Tips for growing sunflower seeds

10:50am Friday 26th February 2010

Reader's question: Mrs Luckhurst, from Ingleton, has written me a lovely letter saying that last October at the Ingleton Chapel harvest thanksgiving service the preacher gave the congregation sunflower seeds from an enormous sunflower that she had grown.

Mulching pays dividends

11:12am Friday 19th February 2010

Mark, in Marton, Middlesbrough, has been told by his father that he should apply a mulch to his flower borders. He wants to know what a mulch is and what it does, and if it is worth the effort.

Language of flowers

11:16am Friday 12th February 2010

Michael, from Hartlepool, always buys his wife a bunch of flowers for Valentine’s Day, but he has heard that some flowers have different meanings. He would like some suggestions for bouquets that will keep him in his wife’s good books.

Growing liquorice

10:59am Friday 5th February 2010

MARK, in Blackhall, County Durham, wonders if it is possible to grow liquorice plants in the UK.

Reader's question: Starting a potato patch

10:50am Friday 29th January 2010

Rosie, from Norton, Stockton, has emailed. She fancies growing a selection of potatoes in a patch at the bottom of her garden. She has never grown them before and would like to know the basics.

Composting advice

10:49am Friday 22nd January 2010

THE Jacksons, from Great Ayton, are planning on doing a lot of renovations to the garden this year and anticipate plenty of clippings and organic matter.


10:26am Friday 15th January 2010

Reader's question: Stacey from Middlesbrough visited her aunt in Cheltenham last January and was impressed by her display of snowdrops. She would love to have a selection growing in her own garden, but doesn’t know where to start and would like to know more about the plant.

The effect that the weather on garden plants

10:03am Friday 8th January 2010

Jonathan has emailed, concerned about the effect that the weather – and, in particular, the snow – is having on his garden plants. Some of his miniature daffodils had just started pushing their heads above the soil, and he has a load of early season primulas and pansies in full bud that should be flowering soon.

Grow your own in a small space

10:48am Friday 1st January 2010

Readers question: Stephen and Julie have been wanting to grow vegetables for some time.

If you’re missing the kissing...

10:40am Friday 18th December 2009

Readers question: Michael, in Bishop Auckland, would like to know if it is possible to grow mistletoe. He has bought some sprigs from his local market which are covered in plump berries and thinks it would be a waste to try.

Holly tree without berries

10:28am Friday 11th December 2009

Readers question: Marjorie, from Guisborough, has a holly tree in her garden that has never produced berries despite flowering.

Best Christmas tree

10:28am Friday 4th December 2009

Reader's question: Charlotte in Ingleby Barwick wants to know what type of Christmas tree would be best to get. She definitely wants one that doesn’t shed its needles, but also wants one with a traditional feel about it.

Christmas decorations

11:02am Friday 27th November 2009

Readers question: MARGARET from Spennymoor is wondering if there are any garden plants she can use to bulk up her Christmas decorations in the house this year.

Winter flowering plants for containers

11:26am Friday 20th November 2009

Reader's question: Stephanie from Bishop Auckland has desperately clung on to her summer baskets and patio pots. They were a riot of colour until October, but now they’re looking really sorry and sad.

Plants to clean air

11:16am Friday 13th November 2009

Readers question: MARK from Durham wants to introduce some house plants to his workplace because he has heard that they can help clean the air. He would like to know if this is true and, if so, what other health benefits could he look forward to?

Cutting back a hedge

10:51am Friday 6th November 2009

Readers quetion: JOHN in Stokesley has a mix of hedging (leylandii, hawthorn, privet and beech) around his property that is getting a bit out of hand. He thinks it is time to cut it back, but is a bit confused as to when and how.

Autumn colours explained

10:02am Friday 30th October 2009

Reader's question: Graham, from Darlington, is enjoying the fantastic display of colour that the trees are giving us this year as the autumn marches on. He wonders if I could explain why the leaves, which start out as green, turn various shades of yellow, orange and red just before they drop off.

Reader’s question: Black flies

10:06am Friday 23rd October 2009

My daughter has a rubber plant about seven years old.

Pears rotting on the tree

9:59am Friday 16th October 2009

Reader's question: I have a pear tree, which three years ago fruited heavily with beautiful juicy fruit. For the past two years the fruit has grown until it is about 4½cm long then it has gone black, shrivelled and dropped off. Have you any idea of the cause and is there any treatment?


11:01am Friday 9th October 2009

Reader's question: Francis from Billingham wants to try to grow something more exotic in his greenhouse, and fancies his chances with pineapples.

Help! My leaves have holes

10:53am Friday 2nd October 2009

Reader's question: Mrs Chaplin sent me some samples of leaves with holes and would like to know what could have caused them.

Lichen on fruit trees

10:31am Friday 25th September 2009

MR Walker has written to me this week about a growth on his fruit trees. He has expressed concerns about the growth affecting the fruiting capacity of the plant. He included samples within the envelope, which has made it easy for me to identify.


11:13am Friday 18th September 2009

Reader's question: MR Thompson has noticed that some beautiful pink flowers coming into bloom in his neighbour’s garden. His neighbour has told him that they are Nerines, but that they are difficult to grow. Mr Thompson wants to know a bit more about the plant.

How to grow broccoli

12:43pm Friday 11th September 2009

GRAHAM, from Stockton, has just started a vegetable patch in his back garden for the first time. He has heard that broccoli is a very healthy plant nutritionally and has become popular and trendy to have in the veg garden again. He would like to know how to grow it and would he be able to harvest some in the same year?

A bit of botanical detective work

10:11am Friday 4th September 2009

THERE was some confusion at the garden centre this week. A customer spotted and inquired after a plant that I had on one of my back retail benches. It had long swordlike leaves about one metre high and an even taller stem that was studded with 2in wide star-shaped, scented white flowers which had a deep purple throat.


9:58am Friday 28th August 2009

Reader's question: Mr Wilson brought me a plant specimen to identify. The flower resembled that of the thistle, but instead of having purple petals, it was a bright vibrant yellow, flecked with a shocking orange. He said that it had reached a height of about a metre and was growing underneath his bird table. He wanted to know what the plant was, where it came from and what it might be doing in his garden.

Stargazer lilies

10:49am Friday 21st August 2009

Reader's question: GEMMA has bought some beautiful pink and white stargazer lilies with the intention of planting them outdoors in her front border.

What use is crocosmia in the garden

11:07am Friday 14th August 2009

MARK Johnson has asked what use crocosmia is in the garden and what happened to the plant that looked the same but was called Montbretia?


9:24am Friday 7th August 2009

Reader's question

Fern garden

12:33pm Friday 31st July 2009

PLANTS from the fern family have been around since pre-dinosaur times, so are well adapted for survival, which makes them an easy plant to grow, simple to look after and hard to kill off.

What is apple mint?

9:41am Friday 24th July 2009

Reader's question: MR Clarke from Billingham has emailed me to say that he is confused by all the different mint varieties for sale, and in particular apple mint. He wants to know what apple mint is, and whether it’s just an ornamental flowering plant or whether it can be used like good old-fashioned garden mint in the kitchen.

Fuchsia cuttings

11:13am Friday 17th July 2009

Reader's question: MRS Garnet has a fuchsia that was given to her by her father before he died earlier in the year and would like to take some cuttings to give to her children as a living legacy.

Black spot on roses

10:13am Friday 10th July 2009

Reader's question

Bring a little sunshine into your garden

9:05am Friday 3rd July 2009

Reader's question GILLIAN is new to gardening and has seen her father planting marigolds in his bedding scheme every summer.

Tadpole tales

10:26am Friday 26th June 2009

MATHEW and Julie from Billingham have just noticed that they have some rather large tadpoles, with well-developed back legs in their garden pond.

June 12th, 2009

10:14am Friday 12th June 2009

Reader's question:

June 5th, 2009

11:30am Friday 5th June 2009

Mark, Rachael and three-year-old Chloe have just acquired their first allotment. They have been fortunate that it has been well tended over the years. There are four large plots which will only need a little weeding and the soil turning over. They want to know if they should just plant their vegetables straight away or take some time to re-arrange the beds.

May 29th, 2009

10:32am Friday 29th May 2009

Reader's question

Blue poppies

12:02pm Friday 22nd May 2009

MARTIN from Middlesbrough has seen some blue poppies in a gardening catalogue and wants to know a bit more about them so that he can decide if he should try to grow some in his garden, which is south facing and consisting mainly of clay soil.

May 15th, 2009

10:19am Friday 15th May 2009

Reader's question MARK from Eaglescliffe was impressed by the enormous rhododendrons in the Lake District.

May 8th, 2009

10:28am Friday 8th May 2009

Reader's question JOAN often walks in the woods near Middleton-One-Row and loves the wild garlic that is growing there at this time of year. She wants to know how she can get some to grow at the bottom of her garden, in a semishaded area which has a few mature trees. She has heard that it can be eaten. Is this true?

Reader's Question

10:11am Friday 1st May 2009

Joe has just started his first allotment and is growing potatoes to help break up the soil. He has noticed that some of the other allotment holders have mounded over the top of their potatoes. He wants to know if there is a reason for this, how to look after them from now on, how he will be able to tell when the potatoes are ready to harvest and how to stop them turning poisonous.

April 24th, 2009

11:15am Friday 24th April 2009

Reader's Question MARJORY has tried all sorts of plants in her small border at the front of her house. She lives on the top of a hill and gets battered by winds. She wonders if she ought to try growing alpines and would like to know a little bit more about the conditions they like to grow in.

April 17th, 2009

10:07am Friday 17th April 2009

Reader's question Janice is redesigning a border in her back garden and is wanting to jazz things up a bit with contrasting colours such as dark purple and bright vibrant greens. She asks if I have any suggestions for plants that might fit the bill, but that will also be easy to look after, as she doesn’t get much time to tend the garden.

April 10, 2009

1:03pm Friday 10th April 2009

Michael, nine, and his sister, who’s six, are new to gardening, and with the help of their mum would like to grow some tomatoes from seed. They would like to know what varieties to try, what conditions they need and any hints and tips that might help them.

April 2nd, 2009

10:20am Friday 3rd April 2009

Reader's question

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