Early tulips, out of season clematis, almond pruning and more!

Every few weeks, I’m in the hot seat on BBC Suffolk’s Saturday programme during the gardening hour. Listeners can call, tweet or Facebook their queries, and I’ll respond live on air. Here’s some of the most recent calls, and the answers…!


Val from Felixstowe has some tulips which have shoots ALREADY, what should she do…?

Val seems to have planted her tulips a little earlier than is usually advised, and the slightly warmer weather has meant they’ve started to shoot already. But, Val will find the growth will now slow right down, as much colder temperatures persist. The foliage is frost-hardy, so even if they’re covered in snow, they’ll stay healthy, and once the spring weather arrives, they’ll bounce back into growth, and flower!

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John in Barton Mills asks if he can reduce the height of his almond tree…?

Yes, it’s certainly practical to keep your tree compact, so you can actually reach the crop of nuts when it’s ready..! Prune during the summer, to avoid risk of bacterial infection. Almonds are best pruned into a ‘wine glass’ shape, so take away tall, higher branches, branches growing sideways and any crossing growth. The key is to allow sunlight into the centre of the tree, helping nut ripening…!!

Diana from Bury St Edmunds has a Clematis montana in flower now.. is this unusual?

I’m thinking that must be a super display, it’s one of my favourite Clematis, with it’s pink punch in the garden! Now, i wonder which variety Diana has, because although quite little know, there are some repeat-flowering varieties out there, ‘Continuity’ is one of them! Look out for it if you can, and you can enjoy Clematis montana all summer, as well as during the spring!

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Eileen from Hemley has some seed ripening on her Magnolias, what should she do…?

This is just the right time to collect the seeds, this needs to be done as the cone starts to split, and the seed still nice and fresh! You’ll notice an orangey covering on the seeds, which should be washed off before sowing. Before you sow, please be aware that plants are not often pollinated successfully, so seed may not be viable, but it’s always worth a go!!

Mix the seed with sand, and place in a sealed bag, and refrigerate for 2 months, this gives the seed it’s natural cold period (stratification- simulating natural conditions). After 2 months, sow the seed normally, and place the container in a quiet corner.. and wait!

Bear in mind that magnolias can take 10 years-ish to flower when grown from seed..!

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