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Get gardening advice from Marjorie Harris Add to ...

Got a gardening woe you could use some help with?

Whatever your dilemma - be it choosing the right plants, ridding your garden of pests or caring for a delicate plant properly - Marjorie Harris, author of the Globe's weekly Hurried Gardener column, can help.

Ms. Harris was online earlier today to take your questions.

Marjorie Harris is considered one of Canada's leading garden writers. She writes a weekly gardening column for The Globe and Mail and is editor-at-large of Gardening Life magazine. Born in Shaunovon, Saskatchewan back in the mists of time, she was educated from Goose Bay Labrador to Vancouver B. C. and graduated from McMaster University.

She is the author of 13 gardening books, her most recent being How to Make a Garden, The 7 Essential Steps for the Canadian Gardener, published by Random House.

Editor's Note: globeandmail.com editors will read and allow or reject each question/comment. Comments/questions may be edited for length or clarity. HTML is not allowed. We will not publish questions/comments that include personal attacks on participants in these discussions, that make false or unsubstantiated allegations, that purport to quote people or reports where the purported quote or fact cannot be easily verified, or questions/comments that include vulgar language or libellous statements. Preference will be given to readers who submit questions/comments using their full name and home town, rather than a pseudonym.

Joan Armstrong, Park Conrer, PEI: Hello Ms. Harris, I am gardening under rather harsh conditions on the north shore of PEI. In the last three years I have managed to establish quite a number of plants in spite of significant winter damage and stinging assaults by wind and salt mainly in early fall. Just as things were beginning to look good with the new year's growth a storm blew out of the north west for two days (last Monday and Tuesday) with relentless wind gusting to 60 km/hr blowing a thick salt spray with it. I am saddened and discouraged by the damage, but I know that is what I must expect here. I've experienced this in September in previous years and didn't feel quite so upset since that is a time the garden is naturally winding down.

Although Zone 4 (some say Zone 5!) I have planted material tolerant to Zone 2 and 3 conditions for the most part, and have paid attention to salt tolerance so most things will likely survive in the end. My question is really what I should do to help the damaged plants recover and get through the summer months ahead. I 'washed' and watered those things that looked worst the day after the storm and now many other things are showing signs of burn. Attached are photos of the tips of the Anthony Waterer spirea I planted last Saturday, and a view of the worst hit plot that contains several rugosa roses (that have been great although showing some brown leaf edges now), a Gold Flame spirea that had just been showing nicely after coming back from winter, and some Karl Forester reed grass that is now in its fourth year, among other things. The Arctic Blue Willows, lilac and some of the daylilies have drooping and browned leaves. Should I remove the damaged parts of these plants? Concentrate on watering to dilute the salt that will be in the soil now?

Marjorie Harris: Dear Joan: You probably have sandy soil as well as salt spray and that means it's tough for the plants to absorb water. You'll have to really clean them off and water them slowly and deeply.

I'd cut off the damage parts very carefully but no later than this week or you'll be getting new growth that won't stand up to colder temps as we get closer to autumn.

Consider having wattled wind breaks near your plants to help them withstand the spray; mulch deeply with organic matter so the salt water doesn't penetrate the soil (well not too much); Rugosa roses are your best bet; but also try Ilex verticillata; baryberry and sumach all shrubs that will tolerate salt spray.

A. Sumi, Vancouver: Is it okay to prune rhododendrons? If so, when is the ideal time to do this? I have one rhodo that is very leggy and am wondering if I cut it back severely, will it grow back? I am in Vancouver, zone 6, I believe.

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