It’s not bananas

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THERE’S so many jobs to do in the garden and greenhouse now.

Isn’t it wonderful, we’ve got beautiful flowers everywhere because summer is almost here and it’s a plant heaven.

One job to do is to dead head roses. Be careful if you do it with your fingers as you may be left with a dead flower stalk hanging on to the plant.

It’s best to use scissors or secateurs and cut just above a bud.

My grandad had a gorgeous rose bed and I still remember smelling all the roses.

A useful tip he taught me was to plant the roses next to herb bed as it deterred pests such as aphids attacking the roses.

His had lavender, rosemary, chives and the strong scented lemon balm.

If I am totally honest, some aphids still got to the roses, but – like planting marigolds with your tomatoes – it reduces the infestations by the blighters by a lot.

I learnt so much from my beloved grandad. I still use banana skins in the garden as he taught me.

They are rich in potassium and starch, which turns into sugar, and they also make a good natural additive to compost.

I remember some years ago, when I lived in Harrogate, I grew the climbing rose Zephirine drouhin.

I actually put some crushed banana skins in the planting hole and when I planted the rose placed skins at the base so they would naturally decay and benefit the flowering of the rose. The rose flowers were spectacular.

Take it from me, a lot of old fashioned gardening tips can be misleading and I have tried them and had no success at all, but banana skins worked a treat and if I grew roses in my garden I wouldn’t hesitate to use them again.

My grandad got me involved in gardening when I was 12 years old and luckily I have spoken to many knowledgeable people about gardening and viewed so many beautiful gardens which has taught me so much about gardening and nature.

I have learnt so much in my 28 years of doing gardening as a job – even longer if you count my enthusiasm as a child and since going to Askam Bryan and gaining a qualification in horticulture.

Not enough young people are taking up gardening so if you have a child or grandchild please get them interested in gardening without flowers and vegetables.

The world would be a dismal place and there would be a huge shortage of food and beneficial wildlife to pollinate our plants and provide us with food.


A herb which has suffered a lot this year is the bay tree. So many people have lost their bay trees.

My good friend Brenda Dismore, who has a beautiful garden, lost two to the awful weather this winter. Bay is prized for the flavour of its evergreen leaves. Bay laurel grows well in the ground and in containers and is often clipped into topiary shapes.

Although it’s fairly slow growing, it can grow to be a large tree of up to 15 metres.

The leaves of sweet bay or bay laurel are used in cooking. Never eat the berries as they are poisonous. Remember common laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) is an ornamental and poisonous laurel with large, thick, glossy leaves.


There will be a plant stall, various craft stalls, jewellery, clothing and tombola, at Sewerby Methodists Church on Saturday (June 18), from 10.30am, admission £1, with refreshments provided during the day.

I do hope you can attend my Gardening Show on July 12 at 6.45pm. Entry is £5. I have been working on the show for a year and have plenty of gardening knowledge to keep you all entertained. I will be giving a guided tour of Sewerby Gardens on August 2 as well. To book call 403435.

Gardening Tip – Basil is a lovely tender herb and can attract aphids if not looked after correctly. Water sparingly, little and often, use general-purpose liquid feed regularly on container plants to encourage them to remain leafy.

Remember like all herbs you wish to use for food, nip the flower buds out to encourage leafy growth.