Hartley Magazine

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Walking in the Footsteps of Bill Sowerbutts

BBC Gardeners Question Time, first broadcast in 1947 under the name of ‘How does your Garden Grow’ returned this week to the Broadoak Hotel in Ashton Under Lyne. This is where the very first broadcast was made by Bill Sowerbutts. Two members of the original audience, Betty Bennett and Peter Kinder were there to share their memories.

This week’s panel of experts included Bob Flowerdew, Pippa Greenwood and Paul Peacock, ready as always for any questions the audience might throw at them.

Robert Frost landlord of the Broadoak for 30 years kicked off by telling the panel about a local Monkey Puzzle tree. The tree had been standing for many years and had fruited for the first time in his memory. He showed the panel the fruit it had produced and wanted to know more about it. Bob Flowerdew answered, saying it was a fruit on the outside and nuts inside and added that a fruiting Monkey Puzzle tree could be quite dangerous as a falling fruit from height and at such a weight (4 – 5lbs) could kill you. He also added that for a Monkey Puzzle tree to germinate there must be a male and female.

How to make a Wisteria flower was next question up. To the audience’s amusement Bob suggested that feeding it rice pudding might help and Pippa and Paul agreed that Potash usually does the trick.

Jane Lee showed the panel her lacy plum leafs and wanted to know what pest had been at her plant. Pippa answered by telling Jane it looked like several problems, slugworm (not to be confused by slugs) and Shot Hole and probably a weak fungal problem and suggested next year to feed it and keep it moist.

The recording ended with words of wisdom from the panel – Paul Peacock quipped ’Yes You Can’. Pippa’s word of wisdom was to ‘enthuse’. Finally Bob quoted ‘ The best time for taking cuttings is when no one is looking’ raising a laugh from the audience.