Wilde side

Kim Wilde answers your gardening questions.

We are fairly exposed in rural Dorset, and have heard that winter is a good time to plant a hedge. What do you suggest for an effective windbreak?
Hedges can be formal or informal, evergreen or deciduous, and a formal one will need more maintenance than an informal one. Since you’re in a rural area, how about an informal wildlife hedgerow, including hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), field maple (Acer campestre) and dog roses (Rosa canina)? Local councils are worth contacting about establishing a wildlife hedgerow, as they sometimes help with written information, or even with the supply of plants. Bare-rooted plants are much cheaper than container-grown ones. Now until February is the best time for planting bare-rooted whips, four per metre, in a double, staggered row.

We have been enchanted by the stunning autumn colour this year, and would love to have some late colour in our medium-sized, sunny garden. Any suggestions?
Colour late in the year is a real bonus, and now is the time to plant for next year. One of my favourites is Cotinus ‘Grace’, which is a fast-growing shrub with purple leaves, and bursts into flame in late autumn. Or how about the deciduous Euonymus alatus ‘Compactus’, which grows to only 1m and has long-lasting autumn tints in pink and red shades, as well as fruit that splits to reveal bright orange seeds. Ground cover is supplied by Geranium macrorrhizum in coral and gold, and Ceratostigma plumbaginoides .

I want to grow mistletoe, but have heard it can be tricky. Are there any secrets you can let me into?
Mistletoe (Viscum album) is actually a parasite that attaches itself to host trees for nutrients and water. Apparently, you will have to wait some years for success in growing it, though it’s quite straightforward. The berries don’t become fully ripe until February/March, and should then be rubbed into the cracks of the bark of a tree, preferably lime or apple, or pushed into a small notch cut into the bark.