Q. Danny, in Lusk
"I am struggling to grow clematis in my garden. I'm growing it to hide a fence. Any ideas?"
There are many different types to choose from. I would go with 'clematis montana', as it has that extra bit of vigour when growing. It is a Spring flowering type, and it doesn't get clematis wilt (caused by a fungus).
Another type to look for is 'clematis viticella'. Either variety like a sunny spot to grow in. Top Tip: Although the flowering part of clematis likes the sun, the bottom section near its roots likes to be kept cool. A good ides is to shade this area of the plant. You could use a sleeper, or very low wall / rockery etc - or even a small plant in front will shade the base - whatever works.
Q. Donna, Wicklow.
"I have a butterfly bush and was wondering was it too late in the year to cut it back a bit?"
'Butterfly bush' or Buddleia as its often called. Cut away. You can go at it and will come back. In winter its often cut back to around knee height, at this time, you can cut it just above this height. So go for it :)
Q. Sara, Wicklow
"Have recently moved into a new house and the garden is very overgrown. How do I remove nettles from the grass?"
Firstly, nettles are usually a very good sign. They use lots of different nutrients to develop, so this is a great sign for the condition of your soil. In relation to getting rid of them, you can get RoundUp. You can get it in a pack where it has a sponge, and you paint or dab it on. MAKE SURE to wear gloves etc. This is an excellent way of doing it, as it wont effect the surrounding vegetation. The RoundUp is absorbed by the leaves and is brought back into the nettle.
Q. Brian, Stepaside
"We have had our 30 foot Leylandii taken out recently. What can we replace it with? "
A better alternative to Leylandii is 'Thuja'. It has all the benefits but without the hassle. Its an every green plant, that looks similar, but its MUCH more manageable than Leylandii, grows pretty quickly initially, and is a lot easier to trim and contain. There are a lot of different types out there that you can choose from. I recommend Thuja over Leylandii every time.
Q. Harold, Rathfarmham
"I have a umbrella plant, its fairly old, but recently the leaves have started to drop off. I really want to save it, help!"
I assume this is an indoor umbrella 'Schefflera' plant. Usually when you hear of leaves dropping off, this indicates that if got a shock of some sort. It could be that when you watered it, the water used was too cold, or maybe a pet interfered with it.
Keep it in a warm spot, but out of direct sunlight. Very often, if you simply re-pot the plant to a bigger container, this can have a very positive effect. It may be that its roots are now restricted for space and it needs re-potting. Also, you can get organic spray that you simply spray on its leaves, and the plant will absorb nutrients directly this way.
Q. Sinead, Dun Laoghaire
"I want to get rid of dandelions in my garden. Any advice?"
Again, I would use RoundUp. You can get it in a pack and you paint / dab it on leaf itself. This is the best way to deal with them, even though it might be somewhat time consuming - but worth it in the long run.