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LUVLY JUBILEE; Celebrate 50 years of GQT.

Curious bunch, gardeners. What do I mean? Try this one: "If you were reincarnated as a plant, what would you be?"

Or what about: "How do you collect manure from fish in a pond?"

These are two of the more offbeat queries fielded down the years by Gardeners' Question Time, which celebrates its Golden Jubilee next month.

This Radio 4 institution, which started life in 1947 as an experiment called How Does Your Garden Grow?, soon became one of the nation's favourite programmes.

Renamed Gardeners' Question Time in 1951, the show made household names out of many of its chairmen, including Robert Stead, Freddy Grisewood, Franklin Engleman, Michael Barratt, Clay Jones and now, Eric Robson.

Today, every Sunday at 2pm and Wednesday at 11.30am, gardeners tune in to hear myself, Geoffrey Smith and other panellists get to grips with some pretty thorny problems.

Gardening habits and fashions have changed but it seems the problems we face are similar to those that have been raised throughout the past 50 years.

Pests such as slugs and snails and moles in lawns still top the bill, with other more recent bugbears including whitefly and vine weevils.

We still wrestle with wisterias which fail to flower and brassicas that bolt - not to mention what to plant on a north-facing wall.

In the past, the team usually received notification of the questions before the recordings.

But when we took over a few years ago, we decided to break with that tradition.

The first that we ever know of the questions is when we hear them as the programme is recorded.

As I mentioned earlier, some of the more knotty ones really take us by surprise.

Why don't you join us at one of the special events listed below and see how we fare.

Agastache are aromatic, herb-like plants best grown from seed as annuals. They have attractive, greyish-green leaves, often seen on plants which originate in dry areas.

Throughout the summer, these are topped with pretty flower spikes, each made up of whorls of tiny, near-tubular flowers. The spikes come in various shades, including violet, pink and red. Sow seed at 55-64F (13-18C) in early spring or divide established, over-wintered plants in spring. To over-winter them successfully they must be kept frost-free, so it is usually more successful to treat them as annuals. Plant in a sunny spot on a well- drained soil.

Make sowings of carrots about half an inch deep and in drills about 8in apart. At the same time thin out seedlings.

In all but the coldest areas of the country it should now be safe to put your bedding plants outside. You should harden them off as an extra precaution.

Take cuttings from favourite penstemon plants and get them rooted in a sandy cuttings compost.

Overseed worn areas of lawn if necessary but remember that young grass needs to be watered regularly.`

Quiz the experts

To MARK GQT's birthday, there will be a number of special events broadcast throughout June. Tomorrow in the National Forest at Mira, near Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leics, you can be at the recording of GQT's 50th Anniversary show.

There's no need for a ticket and gates open at 9.30am.

There will also be special recordings at Knightshayes Court, Devon (June 9), and at London's Kew Gardens (June 16).

Tickets will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis on receipt of an SAE.

For Kew tickets, write to GQT Tickets, PO Box 2000, Andover, Hampshire SP10 3XZ. For Knightshayes, write to The National Trust, Knightshayes Court, Tiverton, Devon EX16 7RQ.

These winners have all got the write stuff

Congratulations to the readers whose names were picked out from the sacks of mail we received for the draw for copies of my latest book, Pests And Diseases.

The following lucky winners should receive their copy within the next few weeks: Mrs Allen from Middlesbrough; G Surridge (Basildon, Essex); Mr South (Shoreham, W Sussex); Mrs Killick (Rochester, Kent); Mrs H Dunsford (Calne, Wilts); Mrs E Lenton (Boston, Lincs); Mrs Fyfe (Aberdeen); Mrs Cadman (Wolverhampton); Mrs Rowland (Egham, Surrey); and Miss J Cooper (Birkenhead, Merseyside).
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Greenwood, Pippa
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 31, 1997
Previous Article:A highway to heaven.

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