Wilde side

Kim Wilde answers your gardening questions.

Our 10-year-old Wisteria sinensis has flowered twice a year for the last few years. It now appears to have stopped growing, and the older stems have become very brittle and snap easily. Are we losing it?
The same thing has happened to my beloved 12-year-old wisteria. I patiently waited six years for it to bloom, and it blossomed just as I met my husband, Hal, in 1996. I took this as a blessing from the universe on our union, so you can imagine how I felt when the plant hit the rocks. Honey fungus is wisteria’s main enemy: see if there’s any white fungus between the bark and the wood at the base of the plant. If so, dig it up, roots ‘n’ all, and burn it. But if your plant has been grafted, as most are, the most likely reason is a graft failure. This is surprisingly common, even on mature wisteria, as the graft point can be vulnerable to disease. Mine started sprouting healthy shoots from below ground, but this is from the seedling stock and will therefore take forever to flower again, so it’s coming out!

Something is attacking my honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’. The affected stems and leaves are covered in a grey powdery fungus, which is working its way from the bottom of the plant upwards. What can we do?
The likely culprit is powdery mildew, an airborne fungal disease. The warm, moist weather we’ve had, together with hot, dry spells provides perfect conditions for it. Spray with Bio Fungus Fighter or Fungus Clear now, and in the autumn.

My dad, a keen gardener, has just passed away. He was particularly fond of runner beans, and I’d like to carry on this tradition. We’ve picked some pods, but don’t know what to do next.
I leave some pods on the plant to ripen and dry, before putting them in an envelope and storing them in a dry place (my kitchen drawer). In mid-spring, I grow them in pots, before planting outside, after the frosts, up bamboo poles, in soil with plenty of well-rotted manure. Keep well watered, and pick beans regularly.