BBC Radio Leicester Gardens Hour 22 April 2020

If you were listening in to BBC Radio Leicester for Gardens Hour today, I’ve written some notes to accompany the programme.

I’m working from home at the moment. The oak tree above has just burst into leaf. I can see the tree from the top of the paddock. The swallows returned here last Wednesday, and we’ve seen pipistrelle bats over the garden.

Blossom has been fabulous this year, with no rain to spoil the flowers. I’m sitting under this Prunus Kanzan cherry tree today to answer questions and talk about my gardening tasks.

We had a question about an apple tree failing to establish.

If your tree is failing to thrive, it usually indicates a problem with the growing conditions. Poor growing conditions will stunt any tree or shrub.

Water any newly -planted trees well. Soil may be dry around the roots even when the surface appears moist. Check with a trowel to see how far the water is penetrating the ground.

Weeds and grass compete with trees for moisture. Keep a weed and lawn -free zone at least 1m in diameter around the plant.

Mulch locks in the moisture and helps feed the tree. Apply a mulch a good couple of inches deep around the tree, avoiding the trunk. (mulch piled up against the trunk can cause ‘drowning,’ so take care it doesn’t get pushed up against the tree).

You can use your own home-made compost or composted bark for the mulch. Do not apply to dry ground, as it can also lock -in drought.

You can place a drainage pipe in the ground alongside the tree at planting time, which helps water reach the roots. However, take care, as too much water can cause water logging, which is also detrimental.

Feed with a potash fertiliser, which promotes fruit and flowers.

Salix Flamingo – wiki commons photo.

We had a question about a Salix Flamingo willow tree failing to thrive. The tree has come into leaf and the leaves have shrivelled.

I’ve found this tree difficult to grow. It’s grown for its new, shrimp pink leaves which emerge in April. These leaves are delicate and easily damaged by cold winds and frost. Too much direct sunshine on emerging leaves can also cause them to shrivel. We have had a combination of high daytime temperatures, cold east winds, and plummeting night time temperatures. In a sheltered garden you would have no problems, but in a slightly more exposed spot, the tree struggles. Also, being from the willow family it requires plenty of moisture. We haven’t had any rain for several weeks and the ground is parched- despite all the record-breaking amounts of rain we’ve had over autumn and winter.

Usually, the tree recovers and produces a new set of leaves to replace the ones that have shrivelled. Watering and throwing some fleece over at night usually nurses it along until we get more even growing conditions in early summer. I’ve known them to suffer from a type of rust, and also canker. But apart from that, they are very pretty trees. They either like you, or they don’t though!

We had a question about a montana clematis failing to flower. This is my clematis Montana Wilsonii. The one the caller had was a pink variety, planted last year and growing in a pot next to an archway. The clematis on the other side of the arch was doing well.

Clematis montana flowers on the previous season’s wood. The caller hadn’t pruned it, but sometimes a montana clematis will take 2-3 years to settle into flowering as its first thought is to grow to the top of the archway.

Clematis don’t do as well in pots, unless they are a really good size and you can keep up with the watering requirements. So it would be best to plant the clematis in the ground and keep it well fed and watered. Potash feed, again, for flowers. And prune immediately after flowering, although I hardly prune my montana clematis to be honest. It’s pretty low maintenance, once established.

And finally, we had a caller wanting to buy a Venus fly trap. They are usually sold at local garden centres, which of course, are not open at the moment. However several are making deliveries, so it’s worth ringing round to source supplies of plants. I’ve found this one on line from QVC. I’ve bought various plug plants, bedding and bird food from QVC and found the service to be quick and reliable. However, I’ve never bought any fly trap plants from them, so can’t say more than I have managed to find a supplier.

I hope you’ve found these notes useful. Please listen in on Wednesdays at 12.30 with Ben Jackson and on Sundays (usually) with Dave Andrews at 1pm on your smart speaker, DAB 104.9FM or on BBC Sounds.

It’s great to be involved with local radio gardening and we try to offer something for experienced gardeners wanting to try new varieties and grow for shows, and also for those who have never grown anything before. All questions welcome. We will try our best to help. I am part of an experienced team.

Comments box is right at the bottom of the page, below hashtags, social media sharing and links.

BBC Sounds to listen back: At 2.37.30 on the timeline.

Links :

11 thoughts on “BBC Radio Leicester Gardens Hour 22 April 2020

  1. Working on notes for the radio from home you can see in the upper part of the meadow that wonderful specimen of oak: a magnificent view, I love it. The swallows have arrived and you have bats, I love it. Sitting under the cherry tree Prunus Kanzan to do your gardening work on the radio, you couldn’t have chosen a more charming place. Question about an apple tree that could not be established: what a shame! Karen thanks for your professional advice on how to plant a tree correctly. I love Salix Flamingo willow and your answer to the question has been from a true master gardener. I love your clematis Montana Wilsonii. The question you are asked about another mountain variety pink clematis planted in a pot next to an arch that does not flower and the one on the other side grew well. The advice you gave was very instructive. The call to buy a Venus flytrap. You have bothered to look for the radio listener an online nursery that serves this plant at home and that you trust: you are great. I am so glad that the two shows you have on the radio, Sundays and Wednesdays, make you feel so “great” and “involved with local radio gardening” to help expert and novice gardeners answering all your questions and concerns. Karen thanks for the link to BBC sounds to listen to. I hope your father-in-law is recovering well. For all your family, Mr B and for you many strengths, health, encouragement, hope, positive thinking and much love. Loving caresses for Grace and Meg. With all my love, very loving greetings from margarita xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry for the delay replying. We have had no internet, again. So frustrating. Enjoy your weekend. Lots of love and positive thoughts. Loving greetings from karen, Meg and family xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Karen thank you very much for your words. I am sorry that you are left without the Internet. I take the computer today for the first time in almost two weeks. I have been bad with my ears and very depressed for the birthday of my older brother who passed away 26 years ago and for Mother’s Day that was on May 3 and my dear Mother and I were alone to celebrate it; and has been the first without my dear Father. Anyway, another fall in the hole. I hope you are in good spirits and wanting to fight. A hug to Grace and Meg who love them very much. Lots of health, strength, hope and positive thinking for all your family, Mr B and for yourself. I hope your father-in-law is in much better health. Much love to all. Very loving greetings from Margarita Xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Margarita, I’m so sorry you are down again just now. We too have celebrated my eldest daughter’s birthday, just the three of us here and no other family. And then my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary – again just us three. It would usually be the whole family here for a meal. My youngest daughter cannot come home as she is a nurse on the covid wards. I’m sometimes beside myself with worry for her as all she has is a mask, a plastic gown and a face shield, and yet she is surrounded by people coughing. I keep worrying that she will catch the virus. So many nurses have already died. However, it’s not doing anyone any good worrying like this, so I shall look about me for all the good people are doing and try to help out as much as I can. And you must do the same. Occupy yourself with something you enjoy, even if only for a short while. Read the blog and look at nature. Concentrate on all the beauty in the world. And keep strong. Much love to you all. Loving greetings from Karen, Grace, Meg and family xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Karen thank you very much for your advice and words of support. You’re a great friend. Your youngest daughter is an expert nurse and will not take the Covid-19: she will be safe and sound. It is normal for you to worry about her, she is your daughter. Congratulations on your anniversary! And congratulations to your oldest daughter on her birthday. Here in Madrid there is little Nature: the parks are closed. And I don’t know if I’m going to be able to go to the country house this summer, it depends on what the government says, but as things are now, I won’t be able to go. So locked up at home and only being able to go for a walk 1 hour a day that at the moment we have not left because people do not keep the safety distance of 2 meters and go without a mask. In addition, they have made time slots to go out depending on the type of person you are: over 70, athlete, adult with children ….. and people do not respect him. It is chaos. And since I am so depressed, I don’t feel like going out and getting Covid-19. I have found a box to paint with numbers and your paint and brushes. My sister gave it to me. It entertains me to do it so I’m going to get on with it. I sincerely hope that your father-in-law is much better. May all your family, Mr B and you stay safe. Much love for everyone, especially for you. Loving caresses to Grace and Meg. All the best. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Margarita, I wish I could send you some comfort and happiness. All I can do is send you words and reassure you that this time will end and we will all one day be able to resume our lives. Take heart and keep strong. Depression is not easy to solve, but I’m hoping you are getting help and advice from your doctor. Would you believe it, I too am painting! It occupies your whole mind, and it’s not possible to worry while you are painting. Sending lots of good cheer your way. Lots of love. Loving greetings from us all xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Karen send me a lot of comfort, happiness and encouragement with your words: thank you very much. The two painting! Relax a lot, you forget everything, you enjoy a lot while you paint and it cheers you up. Karen you too stay strong and fighting all this. Much love for you and much love for all your family, Mr B, Grace and Meg. Take care. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx🌼🌼


  2. We listened to the so called garden program for the first 20 minutes and then switched off as we were fed up with listening to yet more about corona virus. Josie told me that you were on for the ast ten minutes which I think is an insult to all professional gardeners and plant people. The program has gone too far away from gardening in an attempt to get young people to listen to Radio Leicester and in so doing they are now losing many of their elderly listeners. As I have only been approached once this year I feel that it is now time for me to say goodbye to BBC Radio Leicester.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for all your support Derek. It’s very strange and troubling times indeed. I’ll give you a ring to discuss the situation. I’m just thinking of spending more time with my Mum when we get through this covid crisis. Sundays are special and precious. I’m not going to waste another minute.


Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. It's nice to know I'm not talking to myself on here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s