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Somerset, United Kingdom Gb

I have three questions (is this allowed?)
1) Something which looks very like a honesuckle, but which has never shown any sign of flowering, has invaded my forsythia hedge. Any ideas what it might be?
2) My penstemons are threatening to take over their bed. Can I prune them? If so, how and when?
3) Having grown dwarf french beans for many years without problems, this year's have all lost their growing tips, presumably eaten. I did 'protect' them with slug pellets & see no slime trails. Is it birds?



I expect you will get loads of answers so here goes with my 1p worth.

1. Probably honeysuckle - I have had one on my fence for 4 years with no flowers - its coming out.

2. I chopped my penstemons back when they got woody and they seemed to survive (after flowering) but lost them all last winter anyway.

3. Probably the dredded pigeons, they do the same with peas.

11 Jun, 2012


If it is honeysuckle maybe you chop the flower buds off when you trim the forsythia

11 Jun, 2012


i agree it could well be honeysuckle. I trim any straggly penstemon bits off in the spring and use the goodish bits for cuttings. though you can trim it back any time really.

also agree the likely culprit will be pigeons, rats with wings!

11 Jun, 2012


Thanks everyone. I've now netted my dwarf beans -something I've never had to do before in 35 years of veg growing. With odd bits of netting over my brassicas, swedlings (well, you know what I mean!), melons and carrots, all anchored down with old house bricks, goodness only knows how I'm going to weed! Oh, well. It'll be worth it in the end - unless everything gets drowned before we have a chance to harvest....

12 Jun, 2012


Re: the Penstemon, the advice that I would give after my years as a keen gardener is as follows -

Penstemons can become woody and leggy if they are not pruned annually.

Trim them once the hard, winter weather is over (usually in late April or early May); until then old stems provide valuable frost protection for the new shoots
In spring, when new shoots appear at the base, remove the old flower spikes and any suitable material can be used as cuttings
In autumn, limit windrock and tidy up borders by cutting back penstemon by about a third, being sure to leave enough foliage to provide winter protection

Pruning -
In mid-spring, check plants for new shoots at the base or along the stems
Where shoots are growing from the base, cut out all the old stems close to the bottom
Penstemon with few or no shoots growing from ground level should only have their stems shortened, making the cuts just above the lowest set of healthy leaves
Once a plant has been pruned, remove weeds and other encroaching plants.

I hope that helps Carrotless :-)

12 Jun, 2012

How do I say thanks?

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