Susan Giles

Latest posts by Susan Giles

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thyme pruning

Posted: 05/12/2013 at 17:54

I was really interested to hear about your experience of your potentilla Jess. I know the GW team highly recommend the Chelsea chop, but so far I haven't been brave enough to go for it! My potentilla is in a pot and I prune it back in the autumn after the flowers have faded. It doesn't seem to do it any harm and it goes through the winter well. Other than that that's all I do, so maybe the best plan for next year would be to leave it alone and see what happens?

Talkback: Chickweed

Posted: 16/08/2013 at 09:19

Oh Danny, it sounds like your garden shares the same joyful weeds as mine, with the exception that I (thankfully) don't have any horsetail, but it is a menace so I sympathise. Weird as it might sound, I find weeding ground elder extremely satisfying particularly in late spring when the ground is still open enough to pull the fibrous roots through. At least nettles can be useful for the pollinators!! Sadly I can't bring myself to feel the same about ivy which drives me nuts.

Talkback: Growing courgettes

Posted: 16/08/2013 at 09:10

I've had problems with slugs early, but surrounded them with egg shells and that seemed to help. I've got four courgette plants growing and they are fruiting madly. They are pretty thirsty plants and I water them every day, sometimes twice a day when it is really hot, and feed them once a week. That seems to work.


Oh, I don't know if anyone else finds this, but I have found that my courgettes grow better in pots than in the ground. I planted one in the ground this year and it is not as far on as those in pots and not cropping as well either.


Posted: 16/08/2013 at 09:03

Here in south Essex there haven't been any ladybirds in my garden until I spotted one this week. Loads of hoverflies though and I'm even having to love the wasps as they at least also do the job of the pollinator. My husband has been stung a couple of times though.

The bees have been funny to watch as they have been buzzing around my hyacinth, getting drunk on its nectar and coated in pollen. It only takes one flower for them to change colour to a dusky yellow - very cute.

The other side of Monty Don.

Posted: 30/07/2013 at 13:34

I am a big fan of Monty and Nigel, but if you have the August issue of GW the letter on p.129 from Molly the Bichon Frise puppy made me giggle and she has completely upstaged Nigel. Molly writes:

'Well, I think Nigel is boring and clearly has no gardening skills, unlike me. I'm great at digging holes, especially in soil that has just been planted. I'm a whizz at pruning too - nipping off any branches within reach. Jim wasn't too happy when I chewed through some clematic stems, but I was showing him how to stimulate new growth from the base.

'When Jim planted out his French beans, I was a big help. First I taste tested them, nipping of their tops. Then I showed him that neat rows aren't always best - random and free form can be good too. We make a great team!'

Molly sounds hilarious and gorgeous, but Nigel is a handsome dog and I loved it when Monty asked his opinion of the topiary!! 

Pruning Variegated Holly Tree

Posted: 30/07/2013 at 13:22

OK, thanks. I'll see whether the tree surgeon takes it out when he reshapes the tree.


Posted: 30/07/2013 at 13:20

My greenhouse tomatoes - Gardener's Delight - have also taken me by surprise. This is my first year growing cordon toms and they have romped away, almost reaching the greenhouse roof. I am going to nip off the growing tip to stop them as well as the side shoots as there are good trusses already, so fingers crossed for some lovely red toms! If not, well, it looks like we could be in for a bumper crop of chutney!!

Great advice Italophile. Monty spoke about comfrey and nettle juice on Friday's GW, so it was good to hear your advice too.

Could I propagate a Rosemary?

Posted: 30/07/2013 at 13:13

Sage and lavender seem to work in the same way. For the first time I moved my potted rosemary into the greenhouse to overwinter but the weather was so cold and it has survived perfectly. Everything in the ground took its chances, but a newish rosemary I planted last year survived, and yet an old established plant which I inherited when I moved in has died. My neighbour told me she also lost hers this winter, so I guess it's always a good move to take cuttings just in case. If you don't need them, you can always give them away as presents!

What are these growing at the base of my fern please??

Posted: 30/07/2013 at 13:08

Hi Zoomer44, what's the best way to split a fern? I have used the back-to-back forks method for hardy perennials, and the spade straight through the middle for agapanthus, but how do you split a fern? I've got a lovely shuttlecock fern which is getting a bit big for its pot so it would be good to know the best way to do it.

Pruning Variegated Holly Tree

Posted: 30/07/2013 at 13:03

That's good to know fidgetbones...I will get the tree surgeon in to do it. My husband offered to get up the ladder, but I said we would probably need a medical surgeon if he did it, so no thank you!!!

Have you ever noticed that parts of the tree losing its variegation? I have a 'patch' which just has yellow leaves. Do you think I should get this cut out? It is not in the shade but has good light. Just a blip maybe?

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Where have all the ladybirds gone?

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