Wilde side

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

Kim Wilde answers your gardening questions.

I would like to plant one or two climbing roses, such as 'Paul's Himalayan Musk' or 'New Dawn'. Do I plant them now or in spring?
With its fragrant, silvery blush-pink flowers and glossy foliage, the repeat-flowering climbing rose R. 'New Dawn' is hard to beat. R. 'Paul's Himalayan Musk' is a rambler (flowering only once a year), again with blush-pink flowers and vigorous shoots. Roses are hungry plants, so add well-rotted organic matter (manure or compost), and mix in a handful of bonemeal when planting. Plant any time from winter to spring, avoiding frosty conditions. For information, call the Royal National Rose Society on 01727 850461.

The (pot) camellias on my patio have a prolific number of buds. Do I need to take precautions to ensure the blooms are not spoilt over winter?
As long as your container is in a sheltered spot in semi-shade, all should be well. Your London address means you are unlikely to suffer bad frosts, which can damage the flowers. Container plants are vulnerable to temperature change, so for a belt-and-braces approach you could wrap the container with horticultural fleece or bubble wrap. Mulching with bark, straw or grass clippings to a depth of 5cm (avoid touching the main stem) is a good idea. Make sure the soil doesn't dry out, but at the same time keep it on the dry side: too much moisture makes it prone to freezing.

I bought a Lonicera tragophylla some years ago. This year, it is down to a few dozen leaves and no flowers. It is in clay/flint soil. Any suggestions?
This honeysuckle thrives in shade, though it is not always easy to grow. All honeysuckles like moist, rich but light soil, so your clay/flint soil sounds like the culprit. I would try digging up the plant this winter, taking as much root as possible, then improving the soil condition by digging in plenty of well-rotted organic matter before replanting, ensuring that the soil never dries out. Alternatively, replace it with the common hedgerow species, L. periclymenum 'Graham Thomas'.