Wilde side

Date
Published in
The Guardian (UK)
Written by
Kim Wilde

Kim Wilde answers your gardening questions.

I have a window box that gets full sun. Can you suggest year-round, easy-care plants, that are bushy and, most importantly, trailing?
Choose upright and trailing plants that balance foliage and flowers. Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald 'n' Gold' is evergreen and a good year-round upright, as is Hebe x franciscana 'Variegata', with purple flowers in summer and autumn. Small-leaved ivies ( Hedera helix) are good trailers, or periwinkle ( Vinca minor , not vigorous V. major ). Once planted, add summer and winter flowers. Marigolds or busy lizzies flower over a long summer season, and winter pansies work hard in winter. Use John Innes No 2 or No 3 compost for permanent planting, but plant in situ, as boxes are heavy once full. Make sure the box is attached securely for safety.

[!]In May, I bought a Japanese maple, Acer palmatum atropurpureum. But instead of being red, as it should be, it has turned a brownish green. At first, I kept it in a pot by a south- facing wall, as close to full sun as possible, but it shrivelled and went green. A friend said it shrivelled because it got too much sun, so I moved it into the shade of a north-facing wall. The shrivelling is a little better, and the leaves are still green. New growth is lovely and red, but then it turns a mucky green colour. It doesn't look like a disease, so what's gone wrong?[!]
The Acer palmatum issue can reduce grown men and women to tears, and any advice is soon disputed by someone whose plant has managed to outwit the experts. Anyway, here goes: the shrivelling was obviously due to too much sun, which probably bleached the leaves a 'mucky green'. Once repositioned to its north- facing position, there is a possibility that the plant started producing chlorophyll (which is green) to photosynthesise. As for feeding, you only need give it a liquid feed in late spring. If it is of any consolation, you are not alone with your temperamental charge, and a sheltered position in dappled shade should ensure a good display next year. Maybe.

I have a horizontally growing juniper spread over the pavement in front of my house. The council says I have to cut it back, but everything I read says not to prune juniper. What is the least harmful way to curb it?
Junipers are slow growing, and cutting it back this autumn is an option. This may not look attractive, though, so moving it is worth a try. Evergreens should be moved earlier than deciduous plants - at least two months before winter - so there's time to produce new roots. Prepare a hole before you dig up the juniper, making sure you leave lots of soil around the root ball.