Ask the gardeners

My sister planted a trumpet vine on the south side of her house. Now it has six vines coming up in the lawn. How can this extra growth be stopped?

It's the nature of trumpet vines to spread by suckers and self-sowing. Mowing them down with a lawn mower kills them afer cutting the tops off a few times. Or you can dig up the plants and give them to your friends. They're great for screen effect and for attracting hummingbirds.

What can I do to get rid of the toads that hang around my garden?

Toads are extremely beneficial to man. They consume countless numbers of insects each day. If you can think of them as gentle little creatures working day and night to rid your garden of insect pests so you don't have to use toxic pesticides, you will undoubtedly grow to respect them.

Toads have sometimes been introduced into areas where certain crops are being damaged by insects, so they can help save the crop.

We grow marigolds around our lamp post, and they've always been beautiful. Recently, they started dying, with a strange type of growth. It was distorted and bleached out.

My husband put weedkiller on the yard a day or so before this began to show up. Could this have caused the damage?

Indeed! Marigolds are very sensitive to weedkiller damage, even in small amounts. Not much can be done now, except to flush the soil where the marigolds were pulled out, so you won't have the problem next year.

Remember, the drift to other plants can be caused by the slightest breeze. We do NOT recommend weedkillers for home gardeners. Many lawsuits are brought about by their use.

The best weedkiller is a garden hoe and elbow grease. Mulches are great weed preventers and should be used by every gardener.

Our palm, purchased from a local nursery last October, is in poor shape. It was planted by the nursery in well-prepared soil.

We complained to the nursery in early spring and were advised to add magnesium sulphate, copper sulphate, and a palm fertilizer, and to spray with malathion. Then we were told to wait until the middle of summer to see if it improved.

We are still unhappy about the dejected look of the palm. Do you feel we would be unreasonable in asking the nurseryman to replace it with a healthy specimen? It cost us $400 last October and was guaranteed for a year.

No, if you have faithfully followed the instructions of the nurserymen (spraying, watering, feeding) and there is still no improvement, you have a right to some kind of settlement. The guarantee still holds until October.

If you have a question about your garden, inside or out, send it to the Gardening page, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115. Doc and Katy Abraham are nationally known horticulturists, authors of several books on gardening, and greenhouse operators for 25 years.

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