auntie betty

Latest posts by auntie betty

Green wall design for shady spot

Posted: 19/09/2012 at 20:40

You could go for one of the smaller early 'large-flowering' clems, such as Nelly Moser. In general, the paler-flowered ones do best for shade. Or a small clematis alpina might do. There are gorgeous white ones. Anything bigger than about 6ft and you'll only get flowers up top, which would be pointless and frustrating, so choose on the basis of ultimate size. They'd need quite a bit of soil and water to thrive. Honeysuckles would be a better bet, being more tolerant of shade, drought an everything else. They also flower for longer. I'd let the ivy establish for a couple of years first, though, of the honeysuckle will out-compete it, leaving you bare patches in the winter. It'll also mean you don't need trellis for them, as they'll grow through the ivy. You could always buy the climbers now and keep them on wigwams in pot til the ivy's big enough to cope (if you're impatient, like me!). xx

Green wall design for shady spot

Posted: 19/09/2012 at 09:41

I used to have a small shady sunken garden so I can understand your position. I grew hedera colchica 'sulphurheart' up the wall. Its one of the ones with big glossy leaves - in this instance green with yellow variagation. It'd need some support at first, but will self-cling once it gets the gist. Tough as old boots but more interesting than common ivy. Also fiarly quick to get going, which many ivies aren't. Once its covering what you what an annual hack of anything spare and pulling out the odd brown leaf is all the maintenance it needs. You can underplant with evergreen plants such as heuchera, plus certain ferns are evergreen, euonymous fortunei is a small shrub that isn't fussy and comes in a gold and green variety, and perhaps the golden variagated sedge (carex) which also keeps its foliage all year. You can put a nice white daff such as 'thalia' under these plants and they'll just grow up through them every spring. Hardy geraniums will also grow in tough conditions, and whilst they're not evergreen, they do flower for a good long time - especially if you cut them back when the first lot of flowers is over - and it is nice to have a little bit of change through the seasons. Bedding will be tricky in so little sun - the non-dangly type of begonias should cope, as would violas/pansies, but that's probably about it. You could always squidge some into any gaps though. I used to have a couple of wicker 'witches hat' hanging baskets on my wall poking through the ivy. I put white muscari and miniature daff bulbs in the bottom, and then filled above with winter pansies. When the pansies were past it and the bulb foliage yellowing in late spring, I emptied the lot, dried out the bulbs to keep for the next year, and replanted summer pansies and golden lysimachia in. Not a lot of faff or expense but did brighten the place up!

Ivy is toxic if eaten, but my 3 and 4 year old boys never have. They knew from before they could talk the difference between people berries and bird berries. The colchica ivies tend to flower and fruit only when mature, mainly up high and usually in sun, so I wouldn't worry. They don't look appetising, either.

Climbers advice please.

Posted: 19/09/2012 at 06:27

I'm a girl-pruner. I'd prune the honeysuckles now, but not too hard. Leave a few feet. The montana I'd hack it. If its mature, the flowers you lose next spring should mean a decent flush come autumn instead, then just resume normal after-flowering pruning after the next early flush.

Moving a hob vine

Posted: 19/09/2012 at 06:21

Its actually a rhizome, so you should be able to dig it up without worrying too much about root loss if you do it after the top growth as fully died for the winter and u've chopped it off. Plant it nice and deep, the right way up, somewhere fairly sunny with good drainage. You also might want to give it some wires to twine around. Oh, and do all that before xmas to make sure it gets a period of cold - it needs that to flower well. I'm v envious - I'm starting from scratch this winter with new rhizomes of the ordinary hop, having only ever grown the golden ornamental one - but I've been researching, hence knowing what to tell you!


Posted: 15/09/2012 at 12:45

My cat also brings em in for sport. Not one ever has a mark, despite being arried in the cat's mouth. I guess an injured frog's not as entertaining. He'll just pat them (claws stowed) to make them hop about. He loves it. I just boot the cat out, pick em up, and pop them back in the pond. I can't imagine being able to keep hold of one with wet hands and imagine being dropped and ending up dehydrating in the hidyhole behind the fridge would be worse than being carried 10 paces in a dry palm...

Ideas required for climbers over metal archway

Posted: 15/09/2012 at 12:29

i'd go for a honeysuckle plus either an early large-flowered clem or, for preference, a climbing rose. You can even get thornless ones nowadays, and most repeat flower for ages. Buy em now - they wil look tatty but it doesn't matter - chop em down to a few inches and plant. Plants for sale in small containers always end their season a bit early, but that shouldn't mean they arent healthy.

Talkback: Bats

Posted: 07/09/2012 at 22:51

Maybe old wives used to hang about under lit windows after dark too! Just think, if I'd ever heard that tale I would have felt just like your SiL and been too paranoid to sit there, thus missing out on ever having handled a bat. I confess I knew at the time I should have been phoning a bat person, but was in no position to go off ransacking the house for the cordless phone. 

Saw a dragonfly earlier in my front garden. It kept returning to my yew hedge and kind of bumping into it over and over. Wonder wot it was up to? Could it have been munching on some critter that may live in the foliage? Or are dragonflies just known as the thickies of the insect world? Again, strange but interesting!

Talkback: Bats

Posted: 07/09/2012 at 14:22

We've got bats living under the fascias (or are they soffits?) in our roof. They do sometimes get into the loft, but their poos are so dry and dusty you'd never noticce if yu weren't actively looking for them. I sometimes sit on a bench under my kitchen window after dark (alright, I'm smoking, not just sitting there. Sometimes there's wine too) and I once had a noctule bat (we think) come too close while presumably after something that had been attracted to the light above my head, and the bat got tangled up in my hair!!!! GNEEEE! I went. GNEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Y'know, in that horrified but trying not to wake the children kind of way you do. Then I had a word with myself, VERY carefully disentangled him/her, and it sat in my hand for a few minutes until it had got over its own even bigger (though admirably silent) GNEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, whereupon it flew off. It felt moleskinny, very very fragile, and it had the scratchiest feet in the world ever. All in all a weird but fascinating experience from my point of view. Probably just weird from the bat's. I've had a sparrowhawk in my front room, on the windowsill, after flying under the pergola and through the french doors. OH had to deal with that one - its beak and its feet looked just a wee bit pointy for me to get involved with. I once punted a hedgehog off the patio too. By accident, honestly. It was dark, I didn't see it, and evidently I drag my feet a bit when walking in slippers. The whole thing was more than a little Johnny Wilkinson (and not a soul to see!). It definitely 'caught some air'. The hedgehog seemed unharmed, as was I. Still hoping for a nudge from a badger one day, but nothing doing so far. OH says its just as well - apparently they'll have your arm off as soon as look a you. I think he's got them confused with BEARS myself. Ho hum.

Spindly Bamboo

Posted: 07/09/2012 at 13:51

The black one does tend towards the whippy... As already suggested, chop out some of them (I'd start with the ones that flop and annoy you the most), then chop some more when any new shoots appear next year. Feed it at the same time, mulch with manure as well, chuck any clay you might dig out from elsewhere onto it for the worms to slowly take down and water water water when its in growth. Once it begins making thick stems, it should continue to do so with minimal input from you, but it'll get there quicker if you spoil it rotten in the meantime. BTW, when you prune, cut as near to the base as you can get, otherwise you risk the cut stem wasting its energy re-sprouting from the cut all bushy and stunted.


Posted: 02/09/2012 at 14:41

Yep - and I have literally hundreds this year in particular, from just one plant. Easy to pull tho, as long as you catch em early. At its best grown kind of like a hedge imo - the plants support each other so it doesn't go so lax.

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