Q: Hi Ken and friends, I have a Red Robin Hedge outside the front of my home, It was there when I moved in, I have been here about 11 years.  About a month ago I noticed that some of the leaves on the sides and top are wilting. The rest of it is beautiful. The hedge is about 30 foot in length, it is only the first 4 foot of it that is a problem at the moment. I live in Chelmsford Essex. I would be grateful if you could tell me is this a decease or is it just the cold winter we have had, and what can I do to put it back to good
health. Thanking you, Rose

A: What you are describing sounds a bit like Honey Fungus, which is not that usual with Photinia.  Dig into the soil about 7/9 inches and see when carefully digging if there are any black bootlace looking streams, these are the telltale signs. Sadly no cure and it will move through host plants.  So now I’ve mentioned the worst possibility, here are some suggestions of other problems.  Try this first – it could just be the fact of two harsh winters so start giving your plant a dose of a foliar feed like Maxicrop all over the foliage as a tonic (not in Sunlight though as you will scorch the foliage).  Do this every two weeks and watch for good results .
If not take some pics and e.mail them across to us and we will then have another look at your problem. Hope this helps, Ken C


Q:  I HAVE A BOX HEDGE THAT I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE A BIT NARROWER. IS THIS POSSIBLE, AND IF SO WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO DO IT? IT IS JUST OVER 2 FEET WIDE. THANK YOU FOR YOU HELP. MRS JK

A:  Cut into the hedge approximately 3-4 inches at a time allowing it to regrow in between cutting. This way you will be able to decide whether the hedge has the capability of regenerating prior to the next onslaught. I would also give it a good liquid feed at the same time, and this can be carried out now.


Q: Hi Ken, I listen to you on BBC Essex.  My problem is my magnolia and my rhododendrons.  Both shrubs leaves are turning yellow can you help?

A: Dear Vic, Excessive water through last summer and winter has caused many problems with plants like magnolia and camelia’s and I am hoping that the excess water will not cause the roots to die and therefore result in the death of the tree.  So, on a cheerful note lets look on the positive side which is that the plant is lacking iron and I would suggest that you water with an acid feed ideally for rhodendrons and ericaceous plants.  Another good method is to use a hose end feeder with an acid feed and spray all over the leaves.  Not in sunny weather, which we are not having much of of late.  This will get the nutrients into the plant quicker.


Q: For the past week the air in my garden has been absolutely thick with Midges,from early morning through to late evening,whether
sunshine or rain – is it just me or is there an explanation please?

A: The reason for the Midges will be the very damp conditions we had that have suddenly turned warm.  Midges thrive on these humid conditions.


Q: Our lawn treatment man was pounding up and down our very frozen lawn at 9am this morning – my wife said that she disapproved – he said that it would be alright.  Who is right?

A: The ground being frozen may not be a problem, however if there is frost on the surface, in other words the blades of grass are white with frost, as someone walks on them you damage the cell structure within the grass which can result in burning, causing grey to black marks on your lawn.  Crowthers would always recommend our teams of gardeners preferably not to walk on any lawn that has frost on. Sometimes to do gardening this is impossible, but lawn treatment could be avoided perhaps!