My large white heather bush has developed quite large patches of brown – the rest of the bush looks healthy and is flowering.  Can you help? thanks Lynne

ANSWER:  Have you got a cat or dog who may have relieved themselves on it – or it could be a fox.  That’s what it sounds like has happened to me.

Thanks for answering.  Yes,  I have two dogs who use a bit of the patio area which is washed down nearish to the heather bush.   I do try not to let any of the water get near it.  Also during the very wet spell  my patio and gravel garden were flooded.   Should I remove the dead looking stems out of the bush or leave it alone and see what happens.  By the way enjoy your BBC Essex show.

ANSWER:  You should leave it alone at present for around 3 weeks and then prune out if not shoots come from the base of the dead-looking branches.


Question: Hi Ken i have some box hedges in my garden could you please help me and let me know when is the best time to trim them and how much i can take off the sides.  thank you mike

ANSWER: You can trim the hedges at the end of this month, not before, or beginning of May, as we can still get cold weather, and any fresh growth produced after trimming hedges could then get damaged by frost. Another help for box hedges is to give it a good liquid feed over the top of the foliage at the end of May – this will keep the hedges a good colour (don’t do this during strong sunlight).


Hi Ken. I’ve sent you two photos of a sample of our carrots. They seem to have black rings around them or part way round.  I have looked on the web and find reference to what it may be but no information as to how to stop it. It seems to develop as the crop gets more developed as early pulling seem to be ok. If you can help please let me know. I wondered if treating the ground with “Armilatox” would help.Thanks Jack
ANSWER: I actually don’t know how to cure it but if the discoloration isn’t right through the carrot, personally, I would not worry about it. As for using Armilatox, it is now not labelled to use as a soil sterilant and I don’t think that this is the answer. If anyone else has any ideas do let me know!

Question: I have a 40+ year old Williams pear tree approx 10ft tall.  I want to prune it down to a more managable size. Although it has borne fruit in the past it is now more ornamental than any thing else. It is just coming into bud and as in previous years this is followed by the leaves going spotty. When would be the best time to prune or should I remove it completely. Many thanks great and informative show,  Dennis Bryan

Answer: I never like to take any trees down, however old they are.  You have missed pruning for this year as it should be done during the dormant period. The pear tree has pear scab which is causing the blotches on the leaves – not a lot you can do but spray with copper fungicide or Dithane 945 if you can still buy it.  If it were me I would just keep the elderly pear tree and next year cut out any heavily crossing limbs and reduce it slightly and enjoy it for the rest of its life.


I cut back my red gooseberry bush last year in February cutting some of the middle branches to allow air into the plant. I did not get one gooseberry and wondered if you can tell me what I did wrong. Also, should I prune them this year?

ANSWER: They flower and fruit on the last year’s growth so you possibly cut out that wood by mistake. It is usually slightly lighter in colour than the very old wood. If I were you I would do absolutely nothing to the plant this year and I feel sure that you will get a good crop of gooseberry. Don’t forget to feed it in March though with a good granular fertilizer.