Q: Could you suggest a small clematis which could be grown in a pot in a rather confined garden?

CJ via email

A: There are many varieties of Clematis now available that can be pot grown and look fantastic. Look for pixie varieties such as which flower in the spring or patio varieties such as Cart. Joe or early sensation which are evergreen and have lovely creamy white flowers or Picardy which flower all through the summer. You will still need to provide support so plant them in a pot large enough to place an obelisk or frame and then train the clematis around it. Try and keep the pot shaded to keep the roots cool but allow the top growth as much sun as possible and you will get great results.

Q: I love rhododendrons, but don't want one which will take over the whole garden. Any suggestions?

CD, Chepstow

A: Rhodos are one of my favourite plants and with the availability of so many dwarf and small varieties you don't need to worry about them taking over the garden. The flowers come in many colours from bright pinks and vibrant purples to breezy yellows that look stunning when they flower. Look out for varieties such as Ramapo which has silver aromatic foliage, lilac flowers and grows to about 2 foot high or Shamrock with attractive yellow flowers and you won't go wrong. Remember when you plant use an acid compost as they need an acidic soil.

Q: I want to create a herb garden - which herbs should I start with, and how much attention will they need?

ME, Raglan

A: When I look for herbs I always remember the line parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme and depending on the size of your herb garden that's where I'd start. Thyme's are available with many different colour flowers and leaves so your bound to find something you like. Most herbs like free draining soil and need minimal maintenance although you need to trim them regularly so the stems don't go woody.

Q: Are there organic fertilisers which are not based on animal products?

BP, Cwmbran

A: If by animal products we're excluding things such as horse manure there are many organic fertilisers around today based on seaweed or mushroom composts that are really effective. Try composting your own garden waste and if you have the space grow some comfrey which looks good, attracts the wildlife and makes a great fertiliser. Simply cut some back and soak it in water for a couple of weeks, then use the liquid as a concentrate, dilute with water and use as required.

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