Sue Higham

Latest posts by Sue Higham

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Rhododendron Dora Amateis

Posted: 06/06/2017 at 20:51

Thanks, Fairygirl

I planted the shrub into a ericaceous compost with light addition of bonemeal.  Would you recommend top dressing with the same compost?

Yes, I'll go easy on the feed.  I'm aware nothing likes being force-fed when it doesn't feel well - including ourselves!  

Best, Sue

Rhododendron Dora Amateis

Posted: 06/06/2017 at 15:12

Hi Fairygirl

I took a long hard look at my Rhody and decided that it was never going to improve as it stood so, rightly or wrongly, I've pruned it.  Not too hard - just enough to take out dead wood and have left a few branches where there were some leaves, to see if they recover.  I've also given it an ericaceous feed so now it's just a question of waiting and watching.  

Thanks for your help!  I'll post the outcome when it becomes clear. 

Rhododendron Dora Amateis

Posted: 31/05/2017 at 22:40

Thanks for replying Fairygirl!

The shrub is about 2ft high x 3ft spread.  In hindsight I think it's been sickly for a few years but was only really noticeable last summer.  I suspected it was being starved of moisture by  competition and full sun, which is why I moved it to a more sheltered spot in more of a woodland setting.

It also sits next to a Lutea which is very happy and I would have thought they'd both like the same conditions.  It's in the ground and the soil is light and well drained, though it was planted in plenty of  ericaceous compost.   Was bonemeal perhaps the wrong slow release fertiliser to use?

For a while throughout our mild winter it did look as if it was recovering.  I was thrilled when I saw it covered in flower buds but it's all gone terribly wrong!

The upper parts of the branches are so spindly, they don't look as if they would produce any new shoots, hence my question about pruning.

The worst thing is ... it was a birthday gift from friends!

Rhododendron Dora Amateis

Posted: 31/05/2017 at 19:31

My 10 year old Rhodo Dora Amateis had been struggling a bit so last autumn I moved it to a more sheltered spot, in ericaceous compost and bonemeal where it has overwintered. I thought all was well when it was covered in blooms but they failed to open and the (very sparse) leaves have browned. Please can anyone advise me on helping to restore it?  As the leaves are just at the very ends of the spindly looking branches, could I prune it back?  If so, when would be the best time?


Celandine problem

Posted: 21/04/2017 at 22:32

Hmmm ... It's such a pretty plant, and a cheery welcome to Spring, but there's nothing Lesser about Celandine is there? Mine is under a box hedge too and is so difficult to weed out as the bulbils are so tiny and can be about 6" below the surface - tangled in all those fibrous box roots.  

I decided management was best.  I just pull off all the leaves, which removes the food source to the bulbs for next year.  It hasn't completely eradicated them, but at least they're not multiplying!


Posted: 21/04/2017 at 22:04

As part of my garden regeneration project last year I lifted all the plants I want to keep, (200 pots and counting) but quite forgot about my sunshine yellow Erythronium so it got buried under black polythene. How on earth could I have accidentally covered one of my very, very favourite plants with black polythene????  Autumn - that's how.  When I remembered and lifted it last week it looked very sorry for itself with about 20 peely-wally tentacles all desperately searching for daylight. There are signs of new leaves coming through but the question is ... will the old tentacles green up?  Or - if I remove them will that further damage the plant or stimulate more new growth to feed the bulbs for next year?  All suggestions gratefully received!  

Last edited: 21 April 2017 22:05:08


Posted: 05/09/2016 at 10:49

Thanks, all.  

Austin's have advised me that all their English roses are grown on the same rootstock, but that the height is determined by the breeding process and the Alnwick Rose won't grow much taller than 4 feet. Given its very upright habit (the blooms do rather look as if they've been crammed into a vase that's too narrow!) I might try training it along wires and see what happens.  

Will report back next year!


Posted: 02/09/2016 at 17:35

Thankyou Marlorena, there's lots of interesting info there - I'm greatly encouraged to give it a go!

My Alnwick Rose (and the other half dozen I was seduced into buying after I fell foul of David Austin's catalogue) all did quite well for the first couple of years but I think the problem lies in my sloping garden and free draining soil. It's my own fault ... 


Posted: 01/09/2016 at 13:54

Thanks, both!  I'd forgotten about the rootstock element.  Mine is the Alnwick Rose which just now is 4' tall.  It's not terribly happy in the ground and I wondered if putting it in more appropriate soil alongside our new garden building might encourage it.  Perhaps I'll ask Mr Austin, being as I bought it from him!


Posted: 27/08/2016 at 15:29

Is it possible to entice a 4' high repeat flowering shrub rose into becoming a climber?

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