Coming into autumn doesn’t mean abandoning our outdoor spaces. In our Gardening Series, we’ve been putting your burning questions to landscaper extraordinaire Bryan from BeGreene. This week, we’re tackling aphids, shaded gardens, salvaging hydrangeas and cat poop. Yes, cat poop.
Q: How can I get rid of aphids (greenflies) without killing my plants?
“These tiny green flies are there, eating and doing their job as a food source. If they bug you, get a spray bottle of water and turn the nozzle up, as they live under the leaf. It’ll take some time but if you’re consistent you can remove them little by little, checking and spritzing each leaf.”
Q: Is there any way to salvage over watered hydrangeas?
“The name hydrangea comes from the Greek words hydros, meaning water, and angos, meaning jar, which is fitting because these plants require a lot of water. However, too much water can kill them. Make sure the pot they are in allows for drainage. As we are coming into autumn, they will be naturally dying back, so don’t take too much notice. If they are inside, a good pot that drains and plenty of water. If they are outside, leave them alone for the time being and they should come back fine in spring.”
Q: Advice for planting in a shaded garden?
“Most gardens will have some kind of light, so keep an eye out for when it receives any sunshine during the day. If this is your first plant, paint a white square around where it’s going to live to help reflect a little light onto it. Choose something you love to look at and make sure to remove any dead leaves as it grows.”
Q: What can I plant at the end of a north-facing garden to cover the wall (and block the neighbors a bit!)
“Buying something that is ready-matured to instantly cover the wall will be expensive. Use hedging called olearia that will grow a foot and a half a year if you are on a budget and have a little patience. You have to keep it clipped to help it grow and to keep it in check – otherwise, it could go wild. If you’re really in a hurry, you could hang a raised flower bed off the wall, you’ll need to lower it each year as it grows.”
Q: How can I stop my neighbours cat from weeing/pooing on my flowers and plants?
“The best thing to do is keep him away from the flowerbeds by drawing his attention away. Choose an area near a hedge or a spot you can’t see or don’t pay too much attention to, dig a hole, pop some sand in and the cat will choose there rather than your precious areas.”
Q: What can I plant now that will give colour from autumn through winter time?
“Nerines, agapanthus, and heather – there are a few that will keep you going. The best thing to do is head to a garden center and see what you like. Remember – what you’ll buy in a garden centre is living in perfect conditions, so it may not translate perfectly to your more exposed garden or outdoor space. If you’re going to invest in plants, you’ve got to invest time in taking care of them. Pay attention to them. These winter plants will disappear in springtime and they’ll come back next year. Keep dandelions away and weed once a month to make sure they stay well.”