Emma Crawforth

Latest posts by Emma Crawforth

plant for large pot

Posted: 19/01/2012 at 13:12

Hello Lindylou,

Have a look at our pots and containers section to see what you like the look of:


Personally I love the look of trailing plants in an urn. This is easy in summer as you can use bedding like petunias, bidens, verbenas and my favourite Dichondra 'Silver Falls'.

In the winter it's a bit harder, but variegated ivy trails beautifully, and Muehlenbeckia complexa will do the job but would be best in a sheltered spot.

For a strongly architectural look try our hosta display:


Add a copper strip around the pot to deter slugs.

Enjoy it, it's always fun to have a new project you can start from scratch.


gardenersworld.com team

Almond "Ingrid"

Posted: 19/01/2012 at 11:08

Hello MacWilly,

Almonds would normally be trees. Whenever you prune, you introduce the possibility of infection, so only do it if you need to. There is an adage that you shouldn't prune unless the branch is small enough to prune with secateurs. That way the wound will be smaller and will heal more easily. Also, almonds do get silverleaf so don't prune until late summer. Always use sharp, clean implements, and disinfect them before you move onto your next plant.

As for what and where to cut - if you have two 'leaders' (two branches sticking up at the top) you can take out one. Make it the one that comes out of the main stem lowest down. If they both come out at the same height cut the thinner one. Don't cut flush with the main stem. Make the cut just beyond the branch 'collar' - you'll have a tiny bit of the branch left sticking out from the main stem. This should heal over well. 

I hope your almond grows well and does you proud. They are lovely trees.


gardenersworld.com team.

last years compost

Posted: 18/01/2012 at 17:15

Hello Jasminesdad,

Perfect gardening practice involves using fresh compost for potting and seed sowing every year. Older compost will have lost some of its nutrients. If the bag has been open, it will have gained extra micro-organisms - that's why you often see white fungus in the bags. However it still has many excellent uses and you have named two. Personally I'd probably put it in the raised beds, especially if you have soil that lacks organic matter (i.e. clay or sandy soil). Dig it well in. It would do fine in your compost bins, but that would be a bit of a waste.


gardenersworld.com team


Posted: 18/01/2012 at 16:50

Hello Pauline,

It sounds as though you need to grow salad potatoes. There are plenty of varieties and the following should be easy to find:


Pink Fir Apple,


Hopefully these will give you a better texture in your meals!

Do let us know how you get on.


gardenersworld.com team.

Slug invasion

Posted: 18/01/2012 at 16:33

I hope all the slug haters have read James' latest blog:


in which he talks about all gardens having bad slug problems except Hever Castle!

I'd like to add to that. I've worked in other large public gardens that didn't have bad slug problems. I concluded that the whole ecosystem of the garden was working to reduce slug populations. There would be plenty of birds, mammals and reptiles and the slugs didn't have a chance to get out of hand. This is obviously cold comfort to anyone struggling with slugs in a normal garden - myself included. However I do believe that the answer can lie in getting wildlife to work for us. Having said that, nematodes - as Copperbottom says, are very effective.


gardenersworld.com team

creating a flower border

Posted: 18/01/2012 at 16:14

Hello Rubber,

You've given us a bit of a challenge there! I would recommend starting with climbers suitable for a north wall:

Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris, Garrya elliptica  - esp. 'James Roof' and various species of Parthenocissus. Variegated ivy would provide some nice pale colours, but in shade it tends to be less variegated!

You'll need some woody plants to provide some depth and height. Try variegated holly and Euonymus fortunei cultivars, Chaenomeles x superba, Cotoneaster species, Jasminum nudiflorum and Mahonia aquifolium cultivars.

At the base of all those you can plant some herbaceous perennials. The following will tolerate dry shade. You haven't said the border is either of those things but given that it's next to a three metre wall I'm assuming it's both. So try these:

Epimedium species, Heuchera cultivars, variegated vincas (vinca can be invasive, picking a variegated one makes this less likely), Brunnera macrophylla.

You can go to town on some of the spring bulbs - snowdrops, wood anemones and white siberian squill would suit you.

Polystichum and Dryopteris ferns usually cope well with dry shade. Keep them well-watered when you first plant them.

In the summer you can use bedding plants that don't mind shade - begonias and bizzie lizzies will take it.

None of my recommendations takes into account your soil type so do a soil test and check before buying that each of these is suitable for your soil.

I agree that pastel and white plants will help the area look brighter, but if you stick to those you'll have no structure, so pick them where you can - i.e. in bedding, bulbs and variegated plants.

Good luck, it sounds like a fun project to work on. Let us know how you get on.


gardenersworld.com team

Winter pruning

Posted: 12/01/2012 at 16:34

The time has come for us to prune our apples and pears, late-flowering clematis, gooseberries etc. It's a very satisfying job if you have a sharp saw and warm clothing. I've been having a go at some neglected apple trees on my veg plot and wondering whether to reduce the height of the leaders to make them more manageable. Has anyone else been trying to work out which bits of their trees and shrubs to saw off and which to leave for another year?


gardenersworld.com team

Pruning Rowan/Mountain Ash

Posted: 11/01/2012 at 09:58

Hello Lydiaann,

Sorbus aucuparia needs to retain a good framework to support the fruit, which can be quite heavy. Otherwise, branches can snap off. It sounds as though yours has already grown into a handsome tree. The cultivars that are grown for their attractive bark colour are pruned to show off the trunk, by removing lower branches. There is nothing wrong with doing this. It is difficult for me to be more specific without seeing a picture of this tree. However, in principle, branches can be removed. Take care to make a neat cut, close to the trunk, not right on the trunk, but not leaving a large snag either! A good way of doing this is to reduce the weight of the branch first, by cutting the end off it. When you make your final cut, you do not want any branch weight that could make a tear in the trunk.  For timing, I would advise doing it in late summer. Sorbus can be susceptible to silverleaf.

I hope you'll soon have both a lovely tree and a great fruit bed.


gardenersworld.com team.

Back garden Chickens

Posted: 10/01/2012 at 17:34

Hello Eric and other chicken lovers,

I just wanted to refer you to James Alexander-Sinclair's amusing blog on this subject:


If you want to see more info on the site, type 'chickens' into the search box, and then use the filters to refine your search. Many of our bloggers keep chickens so there is plenty of info out there.

Enjoy your husbandry!


gardenersworld.com team

Problems with herbs

Posted: 10/01/2012 at 17:11

Hello Andrew,

Without seeing your plants I couldn't be sure, but it sounds like thrips. Have a look at our advice on identifying and treating thrips at:


Thrips thrives in warm conditions and is a therefore a real problem in greenhouses and conservatories.


gardenersworld.com team

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