AS 2011 gets underway, the gardening problems do not seem to have vanished. I suspect that, by the time we reach mid-summer, there will be as many gardening issues for this year as there have been since gardening started in ancient Palestine some 8000 years ago, apparently.
Mr and Mrs Charlesworth from Emley have been nurturing a peach tree on a warm south facing wall for some years now and have been able to pick one or two delicious fruits in the better summers. However, the tree is badly affected by the disfiguring fungus, peach leaf curl, every spring and early summer and they want to know what I might recommend to help reduce the problem.
The fungus, Taphrina deformans, affects peaches, almonds and nectarines grown outdoors and the spores are brought in by wind and rain during the winter onto the bare stems.
Therefore the most effective technique is to erect a cover over the tree from early January until the end of May to stop the spores from landing on the stems.
At the same time you can spray the tree with a copper based fungicide to kill off any spores although this should stop before the tree comes into flower.
Any further evidence of the disease on emerging foliage in spring should be removed and burnt to rid your garden of the spores.
Feeding and watering of the tree will help to ensure that the tree can fight the disease and put on healthy growth after any infestation.
North facing, cold, shady border - this must seem to be the worst aspect in any garden and Mr Hirst of Fixby thinks he has the worst in Huddersfield. Well, you will be pleased to know that almost every garden will have one part of the garden that will have this problem, to a greater or lesser degree. However, Mr Hirst wants to know what he can do with it, other than concreting it over - a little over the top but we all sympathise!
On a north facing wall you can grow any Hedera helix hybrids you like providing that the ground does not become water-logged at any time.
The winter flowering jasmine, jasminum nudiflorum, performs well as does the climbing hydrangea petiolaris and on a larger wall, all three can work in combination to give all year round interest.
Underplanting with herbaceous plants to fill the border is not a problem - include helleborus hybrids, epimediums, primulas, pulmonarias, hostas, ferns, arums, heucheras and symphytums as well as spring bulbs such as bluebells, scillas, wood anemones and snowdrops. We look forward to receiving a picture when it is all planted up and in full spring colour. How long do woody herbs last? This question has been posed by Mrs Copeland from Dalton - she has had sage, thyme and rosemary outdoors in a sunny location for the last seven years and harvests the herbs fresh during the summer as well as harvesting some towards the end of summer for freezing. Over the last two years the plants have slowly declined and the rosemary is now completely dead. Three conditions ensure the survival of these woody Mediterranean herbs - sunshine, free draining soil and low nutrient levels. Take any one of these away to any extent and the plants will suffer at the first sign of any adverse weather - cold, frozen ground being one of the worst! Start again in spring with new plants and then take some cuttings in late summer to overwinter in a cold glasshouse or porch just in case.
If you have any questions or queries that you want help with or gardening related subjects that you would like to discuss, why not write to me at Graham's Gardening Questions, Features Office, Huddersfield Daily Examiner, Queen Street South, Huddersfield, HD1 3DU.