Q. Creating a beautiful garden is my dream but I haven’t got a clue how to go about it. Please give me some guidance.
A. First and foremost is the fact that you have this ‘dream’ which, once you get over any uncertainties about where to begin, you will, in time and with lots of patience, achieve.
The best guidance I can provide is to picture what you dream of, draw it if possible and then, starting from caring for the soil, make a beginning on what you feel is the easiest thing. Soil health is a basic essential, the exact location and planting of trees is another important ‘first’ as is the laying out of footpaths and identifying seating areas. After this — keep your eyes on this weekly column for ideas and help and if you face any problems, do not hesitate to ask. Good luck in making your dream come true.
Q. I recently planted English roses, cypress trees and a lawn at my home in Hyderabad. Please suggest some other flowers which will grow here.
A. Desi roses, with their wonderful perfume, will probably do far better than English roses so perhaps it would be an idea to include some of these in your planting programme. Other climatically suitable flower species include the following: Jasmine, Raat-ki-Rani, Motia, Bougainvillea, Allamanda, Antigonon, Tecoma grandiflora, Beaumontia grandiflora, Bignonia venusta (Golden shower), Passiflora, Clerodendron, Ipomea, Thunbergia grandiflora, Amaryllis, Spider lilies and a wide variety of purely seasonal blooms.
Q. I am a keen gardener but have no proper facilities to quench my thirst — just a brick paved courtyard. Can you give me some ideas to make it beautiful?
A. Courtyards can be magical places if you let your imagination run riot. Potted plants — or container grown ones — can be arranged all around it with; if it is large enough, a mass of pots placed artistically together in the centre is also a good idea. Climbers, cultivated in suitably-sized pots/containers, can be used to cover the walls. Selection of plant species depends on the amount of direct sunlight your courtyard receives each day, so please give this serious consideration when purchasing plants.
By the way, you don’t have to stick with flowering or purely ornamental species as most vegetables and herbs are perfectly at home in pots/containers too.
Q. What is the easiest method of making plant food, not compost, at home?
A. The easiest and most overlooked plant food is raw milk. Mix one litre of milk with nine litres of water and your plants will get a wonderful boost from the calcium and other vitamins and minerals which milk contains.
Q. I have mangoes and bananas in my garden and want to plant more fruit. Which ones are suitable?
A. You didn’t mention in which region you live but, as you have mangoes and bananas, I guess that you are in the southern part of the country where guavas, falsa, chico, sharifa, papaya and dates can all be grown.
Q. I planted phlox in four beds of my garden. The seedlings were all from the same nursery but one bed is full of brightly-coloured flowers while the other three have fewer flowers. What could be the reason for this? All beds are sun facing.
A. The first thing that comes to mind is that perhaps the soil in the three beds with fewer flowers is not as healthy as in the one bursting with colourful blooms. Please check on this; if not the soil itself then perhaps drainage is an issue. If neither of these is true then please do get back with more details, including your location, and I will put my thinking cap back on.
Q. I live in Lahore and planted a rose in a pot. It was growing fine at first but then it stopped. One of its stems is turning black. I found many white worms in the soil and some tiny red insects on the plant. There are also some brown dots on the leaves. How can I save it?
A. I strongly suspect that over watering, combined with bad drainage, is the issue here. Wet growing conditions, especially with pot plants, encourages all manner of pests and diseases which the plants, weakened as they are, have absolutely no resistance to. The white ‘worms’ are some kind of larvae, the tiny red insects could be spider mites and the leaves have what is technically known as ‘Black spot’ which is not, on its own, lethal but all of these things together are very bad news indeed.
I suggest that you replace your rose, ensuring that the drainage hole in the base of the pot is kept clear and that soil is of good quality, when you can and please take care when watering. More plants are killed by over watering than by anything else.
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