GINA PARKINSON sees the light after a neighbour’s over-large tree is finally felled, all the better to appreciate welcome pools of colour from the autumn daisies.

LOOKING out of the window into the back garden ten days or so ago, something seemed different. It took a while for the penny to drop, but it was late, I’d just got in from work and cooking was on my mind.

What I eventually realised was that everything was much lighter than usual. Then I saw that the tree next door had gone. It was a very big tree, much too large for the small gardens we have, but it is always a shame when a tree is lost. Yet it was simply a wrong choice for the space, and one that the current owner inherited when he bought the house. On the positive side, our gardens are once again filled with light A sudden change puts a garden in a new light in more than one way, and the disappearance of the tree exposed the embarrassing state of the hedge and wall shrubs between the two gardens.

They had been difficult to see under the overhanging branches of the tree and were now shown to be misshapen and far too high. So with the rest of the family working or at Leeds Fest, Bank Holiday Saturday was earmarked as the day for the big tidy up, and by late morning the lawn was piled high with ivy, climbing hydrangea and cotoneaster.

The hedge has been reduced in height by a foot or more in parts and the width also thinned out, mostly by taking individual branches and stems back to just above a leaf joint.

A time-consuming job and even then it looks pretty awful, but it will recover and by next summer will have thickened out with lots of fresh new growth.

The cotoneaster actually looks a lot better. Inspired by a feature on a recent Gardeners’ World programme from York Gate in Adel, Leeds, it is being trained properly as a wall shrub.

Cotoneaster responds very well to being grown against a wall or fence. The stems just need long horizontal, vertical or diagonal wires to be tied to, depending on the shape required.

They will need to be fastened regularly – this is a quick-growing shrub once established, especially in spring and summer – and have side shoots taken back when they start getting too long.

It is best to start off with a young cotoneaster plant rather than the aged one we have, as the thick trunk is difficult to manipulate. The compromise has been to lift the long trunk above the top of the four foot wall and prune the lateral stems into the beginnings of a long wave through which there will be portholes to allow views.

Young stems sprouting from the base of the shrub have been tied to horizontal wires on the wall below. There will eventually be five, which will fill out and cover the area in a few years.

Elsewhere in the garden, plants are beginning to take on their late summer colour. Tall autumn daisies fill the beds with rich yellow blooms that look so good in clumps towards the back of the border.

These Rudbeckias are great for late colour and range in size from shorter front of the border types to very tall specimens.

Ours was bought years ago from a school summer fair labelled simply as Autumn Daisy and has been with us ever since.

Growing to six feet or more, it has single bright flowers and seems indestructible, so every now and then it begins to take over and has to be strictly dealt with.

Thankfully, it always resists complete annihilation and pops up once again with a welcome pool of colour.

Weekend catch-up

EXPOSE the colour of black and golden bamboos by trimming off the leaves from the base of the plant up to two or three feet above. This will provide good autumn and winter colour in the garden as perennials die back and a network of bare stems and evergreens provide late season interest.

Open gardens


In aid of the National Gardens Scheme

Boundary Cottage, Seaton Ross, five miles south west of Pocklington off the B1228. Three-quarter-acre garden with ponds, bog garden, extensive mixed and herbaceous borders, a “roof garden without a roof”, fruit and vegetables and seasonal container displays. An artist will be working in the garden. Open 12pm-5pm. Admission £3.

Stillingfleet Lodge, Stillingfleet, six miles south of York off the B1222. Large garden divided into smaller areas with colour-themed borders with the emphasis on foliage plants, 55-yard double borders, wild flower meadow, natural pond and new rill garden. The adjacent nursery will also be open. Open 1.30pm-5pm. Admission £4 adult, 50p child 5yrs-16yrs. More garden details at

Gardening TV and Radio


8am, BBC Radio Humberside, The Great Outdoors. With Blair Jacobs and Doug Stewart.

9am, BBC Radio Leeds, Gardening. Presented by Tim Crowther with Joe Maiden.

2pm, BBC Radio 4, Gardeners’ Question Time. Eric Robson and his team help gardeners from Essex. Meanwhile Matthew Biggs looks at water-efficient strawberry plants. The gardening weather forecast is at 2.40pm. (Repeated from Friday).


3pm, BBC Radio 4, Gardeners’ Question Time. Chris Beardshaw, Matthew Biggs, Anne Swithinbank and chairman Eric Robson are guests of Sparsholt College in Hampshire. Robert Shaw looks at combating Japanese knotweed and there are updates on courgette and dahlia trials. The gardening weather forecast is at 3.40pm. (Repeated on Sunday).

8.30pm, BBC2, Gardeners’ World. Toby looks at harvesting and storing seeds and carol seeks out autumn flowering Japanese anemones.