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Gardening is a very popular past time, especially here in the U.K., although I must admit it is not one of my hobbies.  I am one of those people who really enjoy relaxing in a beautiful garden on a lovely day but I don't relish the work involved in creating the garden in the first place.

Whatever your expertise as a gardener there always seems to be some question or problem to which we need answers and, fortunately, there is usually someone out there both qualified and ready to provide the answers.

If there is something you would like to know, please ask and we will try to find the answers for you (june@hintsandthings.co.uk).   I will probably not know the answer but I will try to give you details of someone who can.

garden related border

I have recently received the following:-

I have bought a small Laurus nabilis (kitchen bay), and a Azalea(jap) 'Roza'.I live by the coast it is very windy in the winter, so can I leave these plants outside or should bring them indoors though the winter?

You may find the following sites useful:-


1:  Can you tell me why does my honeysuckle not flower. It is on a south facing wall in very well drained sandy soil. It has plenty of foliage and is two years old.

There appears to be  lots of different types of honeysuckle. You may find http://www.thegardenhelper.com/honeysucklecare.html interesting and, perhaps, they could answer your query.

It could be something as simple as the plant is not yet old enough to flower or, perhaps, something to do with pruning but I honestly don't know.

There are some gardening sites which offer expert help and I am sure they will have the answer for you.  They will need to know the variety involved.

2: I have a honeysuckle planted in my garden 40 years ago as a transplant from another garden. For some time it produced wonderful scented flowers each summer, Now for the last few years It has not produced any flowers. This year it was covered with a mass of flower buds and I thought that at last we were going to have success, but sadly the vast majority of the buds did not turn into flowers, but just shrivelled up. There were one or two flowers, but they did not give the scent we wanted.
The plant is situated on the north side of a low fence and receives sunlight in the morning, before the sun moves round. Last winter I did put a bit of fertiliser down on the roots, but I cannot remember what it was.
Without the benefit of any advice I am inclined to prune it back fairly hard and force it to grow lots of new shoots. Winter is the best time or can I usefully do it now. I am also thinking of putting compost over it. there are some shoots in a trough alongside and I could dig these out and put some compost in that and replace the plants. What do you think?

I am no expert and without knowing where you are located, the honeysuckle variety, type of soil etc. it is difficult to do any specific research on your behalf. Some varieties of honeysuckle bloom on new wood and some are best pruned straight after flowering whilst others should be pruned in Spring.

It may just be that the plant has not received enough water, they do not like to dry roots which can often happen if grown close to a wall/trellis. If the plant feels unable to produce a crop it will abort resulting in loss of buds. This can sometimes happen where the plant is growing too well and has been fed too much nitrogen - if this is the case an application of sulphate of potash can improve the situation.
Some do not recommend fertilisers/compost as this can make the plant very invasive, however a feed high in phosphorus is said to help flowering.
It could, however be due to lack of pruning if it is one of the varieties that blooms on new wood. It may also be the location as they do like a lot of sun.
As it would appear your plant is growing well and even produced some buds this year it could be due to a high nitrogen/low potash soil, this can apparently be rectified by feeding with a tomato feed. The bud loss could be due to birds pulling at them or aphids that destroy the embryo bud.
The following sites may also be useful -


As you can see there are many different factors that could be the cause of the problem, I am sorry I cannot be more helpful. I am sure your local garden centre/nursery would be more than happy to give you some advice as to the best course of action in your particular locality.


I wonder if you could possibly help. We have a black stuff which has appeared on our grass, it is like an oil to look at but it is not oil and the grass is dying. We do not know what it is or how to deal with it. The drains underground are fine, this has been checked. The soil is always very wet as drainage is poor, could it be some sort of fungus, please help if you can as the stuff could be anything and I am worried about the kids.

I am no expert but I have done some research and the following site may have some answers for you.  They do have pictures to help identify the problem.  They all mention a black insect but not really black mould.  As you say it is probably mould - perhaps if you try pushing a fork into it to get some air circulating this may help.


I have 2 large Lilac trees, each with brown patches on every leaf. The trees flowers adequately; I have only been aware of the problem this year. I have never so much as pruned them before and I now think that they should be chopped down. What do you think?

I have done some research and you may find the answer to your question on one of the following sites:-


These have various different diseases listed and how to overcome them.

I have recently had 2 eucalyptus  trees cut down in my garden as they were taking all of the light, they were about ten years old. After they had been cut down I thought that would be the end of them, but to my dismay the stumps have started to re shoot, could you please advise me how to kill them off without having them bored out with machinery. I have heard there is a chemical you can insert through drilled holes in the stumps but I don't know the name. Can you give me any suggestions please.

Firstly I must stress I cannot guarantee results and anything undertaken is done so at your own risk.

I don't know if there is any special about Eucalyptus trees but it is said you can accelerate rotting of tree stumps then burn them.  Drill holes in the top of the stump and fill with sodium chlorate (available as a weed killer).  After about a month, burn the stump.  Set light to it very carefully, as the sodium chlorate may still be volatile if the weather has been dry.

Which season is preferable for transplanting hostas? 

I don't know where you are located but the following site may be of interest as they cover all aspects of growing hostas.





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