Question Kevin & Ask Alex

Answers and top tips from Kevin & Alex (in case you missed them on Facebook!)


Q: I bought an espalier apple tree from you at the beginning of the year, it seems to be doing well -However I would welcome your input on when and how to prune it and also when should it bear fruit.
Thanks for your help

A: Good morning Ann, thank you for your enquiry. It is best to prune your apple tree over the winter months when it is dormant and has shed its foliage. The type of pruning you need to practice is called 'spur pruning' Firstly, identify the lateral branches that grow sideways, and prune the stems that grow away from them down to about two buds. This produces a short spur which will develop into a flower and then fruit.  – Kevin


Q: I have a very open garden so need very hardy plants. Suggestions please. Would like to cover the wall. Mandy

A: Good morning Mandy, thank you for your enquiry. That's a very open garden you have there, do I presume it is exposed and windy? May we suggest planting hardy evergreen wall shrubs to cover the wall? Plants such as Pyracantha (good for Autumn berries), Elaeagnus for interesting foliage, Photinia likewise, Ceanothus (Spring blue flowers), Clematis armandii will give you scented white spring flowers. – Kevin

Q: "Hi. My magnolia has been looking rather sad. What can I do to improve its health?" - Simon

A: Good morning Simon, thank you for your question. As I am sure you are aware, Magnolias are deciduous plants, which means they shed their foliage in Autumn, and this is what is happening to your plant now. The process by which plants prepare for winter is quite fascinating. In response to the shorter days, plants drain chlorophyll from their foliage and store it in stems and roots for use next year. The shell of the leaf can be either picked off or allowed to fall and put into a compost heap. There are some very large, healthy buds in the rear of your picture and these will swell up and give you your spring flowers. We recommend feeding your plant with a granular fertiliser, like Growmore, about May. - Kevin


Q: "Could you please identify my flower?" - Hannah

A: Hello Hannah, thank you for your identification enquiry. This is a California tree poppy, Romneya coulteri. It is a hardy herbaceous suckering shrub, which produces large flowers during summer. It likes a full sun position in a well drained soil and is not fussy about pH. Ashtead Park stocks this plant during the summer. - Alex



Q: "Which plant is this?" - Becky

A: Good morning Becky, your plant appears to be a Philadelphus. I take it your plant was flowering earlier in the summer? These hardy deciduous shrubs are useful for exposed sites and a number of cultivars of available, some of which have double or fragrant flowers including 'Belle Etoile'. We stock the full range of Philadelphus at Ashtead Park. - Alex


Q: 'Hi - This plant has popped up in my garden. I didn't plant it. What is it?' - John.

A: Hi John, thank you for your enquiry. Your plant is a Leycesteria formosa, commonly known as Pheasant Berry or Himalayan Honeysuckle. It is a vigorous suckering shrub with very unique-shaped flowers and berries. It is most likely the plant appeared from a seed deposited by a passing bird. Ashtead Park stock these plants in our Plant department.- Kevin.