Q. There are these climbing plants with white trumpet flowers mopping the ground and crawling up trees. I've tried digging and found networks of fat roots. It has been a lot of hard work. Is there any simple way to get rid of them once and for all?
This is a truly noxious, hard-to-control weed, which is sometimes called "Morning Glory" or "Devil's Guts." Its botanical name is Convolvulus arvensis. The roots are reputed to go down 30 feet, they store enough food for three years --and it's said to be resistant to weed-killers.
So eradication is not simple. But it can be done.
No plant can survive if deprived of light and moisture over time or if being pulled constantly. A once week pulling session would ultimately remove it. A few gardeners claim to have eradicated it in two years of focused frequent weeding. But if it's established I'd expect three years minimum.
If you can cover the infested area with black plastic for six months or longer, the roots tend to come up to the surface making it easy to pull large quantities in fairly short time. A variation of the black plastic method is to cut a few slits in the plastic and douse the emerging shoots with horticultural vinegar. The black plastic method will need to be done several times, but it does weaken the weed.
Plants tend to die out if made thoroughly uncomfortable. "Morning Glory" loves moisture. It hates being shaded out and weakens if given competition from vigorous strong-growing grasses.
I do hope your convolvulus doesn't come from a neighbour's yard. If so, a deep barrier is needed to block it from your garden. A minimum of three feet deep is recommended. This can be concrete or very heavy plastic.
Whatever you do, don't compost it. And, if possible try not to let it seed.
Q. We have some blueberries that looked like they are developing nicely, but if you open one up it is brown, hard and dry and obviously not edible.
Your blueberries have mummy-berry. This is a fungal disease where the berries begin to develop normally then get hard, discoloured and then drop to the ground where they over-winter, becoming small, shriveled and grey or black. They then produce spores and keep the infection cycle going next spring.
The way to control it is to gather and garbage the infected berries and rake up any that fall on the ground. Every infected berry should be garbaged.
This disease is worse when soil is wet and in places where there's not much air movement. Many fungal infections have hit fruit this year due to the wet spring and summer.
Q. I planted a poppy for the first time this spring and had wonderful bloom. But now the whole plant is brown. Is it dead?
There are many kinds of poppies. But I'm guessing your poppy is the perennial "Oriental Poppy."
The leaves always turn brown and die after flowering but the roots are still alive. After resting for a couple of months, the roots put up foliage again in fall. The leaves stay green all through winter and flowers emerge next spring. Oriental Poppies are very hardy and drought-resistant.
Anne Marrison is happy to answer garden questions. Send them to her via email@example.com