Q: I have a climbing hydrangea that was on our chimney and almost two stories tall. It was blown off the chimney during the storm but did not snap the trunk, which is about 3 to 4 inches in diameter at the base. If I could get it lifted back on, do you think I should reattach it to the chimney? If so, how? Otherwise, should I cut it back to a certain height?
A: If the main trunk hasn’t snapped you can certainly save this fine old hydrangea. This fall carefully protect the plant with a thick layer of straw. Additionally, a layer of landscaping burlap will help to allow moisture through and keep the straw and the plant immobile. Also, take the time this winter to construct a very sturdy trellis so it doesn’t happen again to this heirloom plant.
Next spring, as soon as the weather and temperatures are above freezing, carefully unpack the vine from the straw and secure it to the new trellis. Hopefully it will be fine for decades to come.
Q: I always buy many bags of composted soil to fill holes after planting bulbs in my garden in the fall, as well as to mound up around roses and other perennials for the winter. I also use some of the soil to start seeds in late winter and for geranium cuttings. But every brand seems to give me different results. How can I make the composted soil better?
A: Composted soil in bags is mass produced and the maker has a formula and sources for his brand. Try adding compost from your own compost pile of garden and grass clippings, particularly if it contains food items or special manures like from pigeons or poultry, or fish products or coffee grounds. Make your compost healthy with a variety of material — it’s healthier.