Gardening in the west of Scotland has its own unique set of challenges, which often aren't catered for on standard gardening websites or reference books. Below are some frequently asked questions from our members and their answers - provided by a variety of event speakers and horticultural experts. 

The Horti's Gardening Calendar

Hints and tips on what you could be doing in the garden by month, tailored specifically for the West coast of Scotland

Pests and Disease
Fruit and Veg

For a selection of suitable fruit trees for your garden – see Joanna Gough’s talk on Fruit trees


Q. How do I propagate Dahlias from cuttings?

A. Dahlias can be propagated each year to maintain healthy vigorous plants. After lifting tubers, on a dry day and after a good frost has knocked them back, remove all soil and store in a dry, frost free place, ideally in a glasshouse or cold frame. These can then be potted up in a light and open compost, we use fish boxes (polystyrene boxes with drainage holes). Depending on the temperature plants will begin to grow towards the middle of March (if in a heated /cold frame (min temp of 10 degrees), once they have 2 fully expanded true leaves, soft wood cuttings can be taken, roughly 3-4 in long shoots. These are placed in a propagator and placed in a warm but shaded spot, ideally under your glass house bench or in a covered heated cold-frame until roots begin to grow. Pot up once roots begin to show at the bottom of the propagator.


When pruning any plant always start with removing the three D’s – the Dead, Dying or Diseased branches, and then move on to consider the amount of old versus new branches and the shape of the plant.


Q. How should I go about designing my garden?

A.There is no easy answer to this question, however, start with a list of things you would like to include in your garden. The next key thing is to be aware of the soil type, aspect, any issues (wet area, frost pocket, etc.) and key views in and out and from your house. If you want to add any solid features consider what additional shade they may cast. By knowing where the sun shines (winter and summer) and where it doesn’t should give you clues about where certain features can go, for example a flower garden, vegetable plot or patio won’t work if it doesn’t get sun for a good part of the day. So before you start to plan know your garden and how it works first.


Q. What plants would be good to attract more insects into my garden?

A. The RHS website provides three lists of plants suitable for wildlife

Soil and Compost

Q. What’s the best use of the rotted down organic matter from my compost heap?

A. The best way to use your home made compost is as a soil improver at the bottom of a trench or in a planting pit, rather than as a mulch on top of the soil's surface. This will reduce the number of weed seeds that sprout from it. Very few home grown compost heaps generate sufficient heat to kill all the weed seeds within.

For more information read about our evening talk on composting, and composting at Glenarn

Also visit carryoncomposting for lots of great information.

© 2017 Helensburgh & Gareloch Horticultural Society.

Charity No. SC003379