Is it too late to spray nettles underneath a beech hedge, in the month of March?
No it is not. The beech won’t be in leaf until May. However don’t spray them unless you really have to, because insects love them. You could go out with a spade and dig them out, rather than spray them, because there wouldn’t be a huge root on them yet. I would avoid spraying them if at all possible.
What are the best container plants that will have foliage all year-round and will bloom year-on-year?
There is no plant that will bloom all year round. But camellias are good for pots and they will flower for quite a long time, and stay a nice green plant for the rest of the year. Skimmia are also quite good in a container and they flower for ages, with berries on them at certain times of the year.
When choosing a plant for the centre of a pot, its flower wouldn’t be my priority. Because you can fill in the outside of the pot with seasonal colours. A lot depends on the aspect; whether the container will be north-, south-, east- or west-facing. You need to get the location right before deciding on a plant.
I have one corner of the garden where I have been putting my grass cuttings etc. for about 15 years now. It has never been stirred up. Should I use a mini digger to do that now and do I need to add nutrients to make it a good compost?
That is never going to be a good compost. You cannot make compost from mostly grass cuttings. A good compost is a bit of everything that has been turned and breaks down into a lovely mould. If you have a big vegetable area you could dig some of this into the soil, but I wouldn’t consider it gold dust, unfortunately. You would have to mix some of this through a proper compost heap to make something out of it.
I have a mass concrete wall in the farm yard that I would like to grow a climber on. Can you suggest something colourful for this?
It depends on the location and aspect of the wall. If it is north-facing and getting no sun, I would use a climbing hydrangea; it is one that will stick to the wall and grow on its own. You don’t need a trellis for it. It is not the fastest grower, but is lovely when it flowers. You could also use ivy on a north facing wall. On a south-facing sunny wall you can use a jasmine plant called Trachelospermum jasminoides. It is evergreen and has a lovely scented white flower all summer. But it does need shelter. There are lots of different clematis, Virginia creeper, wisteria and honey suckle plants that will work well on a wall. It often depends on the style of the house or farm yard as well. You want the plant to fit in well. So again, take a picture of the wall and go to the garden centre. Make sure to tell them what direction the wall is facing and the type of soil around the wall too.
My mother saw a blueberry bush growing in co Monaghan and would like to buy one. When, where and how should it be planted?
Blueberry bushes must be grown in peaty (acidic) soil. They do not like lime. If you plant it in upland soil, it will not do well at all. You should plant it in quite a large pot, twice the size of a regular bucket. Most people make the mistake of buying a small plant and putting it into a small pot. By doing that, you will never have a big bush and might only end up with four blueberries. There are a huge variety of blueberry plants. Some are good and others are not. I find any of the bluecrop plant series very good. You need to plant a minimum of two plants and have at least two different varieties, so you get better pollination. They also like a good bit of shelter in the garden. Most important, if you don’t cover them in august, the word will go out that you have very tasty blueberries and the blackbird will devour them.