Ask the Expert
Climbing plants for a windy area
What plants could be used to cover fencing in a windy area?
Marie, via Facebook
This situation will not stand soft leafy plants particularly in the Winter and early Spring. You need strong robust plants preferably deciduous and twiggy, A clematis that originates in the Alps and other mountainous regions is Clematis alpina of which there are several varieties in white blue and pinks. They will flower from March through to May with lovely nodding flowers followed by interesting seed heads for the rest of the year. You could leave this run up through honeysuckle or a hardy climbing rose like Rosa New Dawn.
Storing nasturtium seeds
Can you give me a foolproof way to store nasturtium seeds?
Geraldine, via Facebook
To simplify save the seed from the best plants as these will produce the best seed for next year. Save the seeds dry, pop them into a paper bag and store in a frost free dark spot until needed next spring. They are best sown the following year from saving.
Getting coverage on a shaded fence
What can you suggest I plant that will grow quickly in a shaded area to cover a fence?
Denise, West Cork
A good plant to use for this situation is the evergreen clematis - Clematis armandii. This has dark green evergreen foliage and produces masses of pure white scented flowers in Spring. You could also mix in with this Lonicera periclymenum (the common honeysuckle) to extend the flowering season and add interest. Faster growing but not evergreen is Clematis montana 'Rubens' which grows like a vine and produces masses of pink/purple flower in spring.
No crops this year!
2011 I used growise potatoe and was very pleased with the results. 2012 bought maybe 18 bags that was spread over 4 small areas of my garden the results, disasterous. no potatoes, even lettuce was very poor,peas,beans struggled.cabbage failed any reasons?
Sorry to hear your results this year did not match 2011. It goes to show no two years are the same in gardening.
Most vegetables struggled this year due to the high rainfall, cold temperatures in the key growing season and the lack of good sunlight. A lot of growth was drawn towards the available light and spindly and weak. This really does not lead to plants developing properly to produce a harvest that you would expect. Hopefully next year will be a better year for vegetable growing and you will give it another go.
Memories of an Irish flower
I spent some amazing Summers in Ireland when I was young and remember, among other amazing memories ,a purple flower growing freely everywhere. It was 1984...I am not sure if you remember or if it can be grown here but do you have any idea what it was? Or can anyone find out, thank you.
Without doubt the plant you describe is foxglove or Digitalis Purpurea. It has beautiful purple flowers on tall stems all summer long. It is a hardy native plant to Ireland and is found in hedgerows and ditches throughout the country. It likes a cool climate, some shade and a rich moist soil. It is found in other European countries but has also come into gardens by breeding cultivars of this natural variety. Try looking for Digitalis at home and you should see if it is the same plant as you remember.