I've just got back from my latest guest appearance on Gardening Plus on BBC Essex with Ken Crowther. And although it's a one-and-a-half hour drive down to the studios in Chelmsford today it was a great journey. Sun shining - shades on - lovely and warm - reaching 12.5C on the car thermometer - and lots of plants bursting into new growth. All in all, a bit of a change from the miserable weather of the last few weeks. Don't get me wrong - I love the snow and the cold of winter - but it's just great to see spring is on it's way - hopefully.
And maybe it was the spring-like weather that ensured we were inundated with phone calls, e-mails and text messages. In fact, I'm feeling mentally drained it was so busy. An interesting selection of questions too, not just the run-of-the-mill when do I do this. Some of the questions - and answers - sparked further questions and replies - always a good sign of a healthy show.
One of the great things about gardening is that there aren't always exact answers to everything - sometimes if you do something that isn't the 'set book' answer and it works, who cares?
Ken and I had a couple of disagreements today, which has resulted in the listeners going off and running some experiments for us. At least, they say they will and I hope they do and come back to us with the results.
The first related to cutting back newly-planted raspberry canes to ground level to take away the old growth. The idea being that it encourages more new growth from ground level. I said I would, Ken said he wouldn't; so the listener has agreed to do both to her row of plants.
The second was about pruning some really old roses - around 45-50 years' old - that have been neglected and not pruned for several years. Ken said he would just cut them all back hard right down to around 23-30cm (9-12in). I said I would tidy them up, removing all the dead, weak and crowded growth, then cut them back by about half, cutting back harder next year if necessary. As the listener has around 25 bushes she agreed to do half and half and come back to us.
Some people think I'm mad - and it is a question for debate. When I told someone last night that I was leaving at 7.15am (on a Saturday!), would be driving in total for three hours and doing a three-hour live programme they said I must be paid well to do it. When I told them I wasn't paid anything but did it because I enjoyed it, eyebrows were raised and the loony comments were made. But I do enjoy it, although some good British sterling in the pocket would make it even more enjoyable!
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