Wilde side

Kim Wilde answers your gardening questions.

I’m thinking of changing my career to become a garden designer, but don’t know where to start. Any tips?
The real demand is for jobbing garden designers. With a regular band of clients, you can expect, initially, to make about 14 an hour. Income can also be supplemented with plant sales. But most gardeners are not in it for the money. You need plant and design knowledge, a way with people and business sense. The Institute of Horticulture has a list of courses (14-15 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PS, 020-7245 6943, The Institue of Horticulture). The RHS will forward a booklet, Come Into Horticulture, if you send 1 worth of stamps to the Education Dept, RHS Garden, Wisley, Woking GU23 6QB.

Suggestions please for evergreen trees (at least 25ft) to hide a school behind us. The border gets sun most of the day. Soil is neutral and tends to be dry.
Deep, moisture-retentive soils prompt the fastest growth, so dig in organic matter, such as well-rotted manure, before planting, adding bonemeal (to help the roots) or a slow-release fertiliser when you plant. Trees with a column (columnar) or pyramid (fastigiate) shape create a good block when in a row. Although Thuja plicata can eventually reach up to 36m, it grows fast and has pineapple-scented foliage which can be trimmed in summer. Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Ellwoodii’ (up to 10m) has grey/green foliage, turning steely blue in winter. Quercus ilex is a great native evergreen which, though hardy, does better in mild areas. Find local specialist nurseries on the plantfinder page of rhs.org.uk.

I’m hunting for winter-flowering, scented plants that are not too large (we have a smallish garden). We get a fair amount of sun.
Sarcococca hookeriana var.digyna (Christmas box) has winter flowers that will fill the house with vanilla scent. Daphne mezereum has fragrant, red-purple flowers on bare stems in late winter. Viburnum x bodnantense flowers from early winter to early spring with masses of honey-scented flowers.