Enhancing the beauty of your garden
dr anna dourado - gardening consultant | home counties

Do you have a pressing garden question that you would like a swift answer to?

Try Gardening at Home's Q & A Service.

Anna has many years of experience answering gardening queries. She was Head of Horticultural Science, Advice and Trials at RHS Wisley where she regularly answered members' questions. She worked as a freelance journalist for Amateur Gardening for more than two years and was responsible for answering all their horticultural questions.

Anna will gladly answer questions on cultivation and maintenance problems in the garden. However, she is unable to answer questions on pests and diseases but can recommend websites, relevant literature and other contacts that may be of assistance.

Please send your question in writing together with a SAE & cheque for 5.00 made payable to Dr Anna Dourado, to Malvern, London Road East, Amersham, Bucks HP7 9DL. The solution to your problem (maximum 150-200 words) will be sent to you within 5 working days of receipt. Complex questions requiring further research and/ or a more detailed answer will also be considered at a fee that is mutually agreeable.


What can I do to keep my poinsettia looking bright and red for next Christmas? Its leaves are beginning to fall and it looks decidedly unhappy.

There is really nothing to be gained in attempting to keep your poinsettia until next year. The best solution is to put it on the compost heap and buy a new one next December. Poinsettias are plants, which colour up in response to the length of the day. They naturally go red in the autumn when the days are short; in fact poinsettias will only redden if they experience less than 10 hours of light. However, the plants on sale at Christmas have been treated to look their best for Christmas and also been sprayed with a chemical to make them dwarf and compact. Your plant will soon grow out of the effect of the chemical and become leggy. In addition, to help it redden up it must be kept in the dark for more than 14hours every day.

I wish to plant some snowdrops in my garden but have been told that I must purchase 'plants in the green'. What are these and where can I purchase them?

'Plants in the green' is a term, which refers to bulbs that are in leaf and root as opposed to dry bulbs. Snowdrops are difficult to establish from dry bulbs so gardeners are advised to buy them 'in the green' when they are in full leaf just after flowering. These young plants establish better and flower much sooner than their dry bulb counterparts.

Here are a few suppliers

Broadleigh Gardens, Somerset. Tel 01823 286231
Cambo Estate, Fife 01333 450054
Foxgrove Plants, Berks 01635 40554

For an excellent article on Snowdrops read Gardens Illustrated Dec 2003/Jan 2004

gardening at home | 2004 | info@gardeningathome.co.uk