auntie betty

Latest posts by auntie betty

slugs & beer traps

Posted: 07/07/2012 at 06:24

I wouldn't sandyr - yeast, alcohol and slime in your compost.... gross. There may well be good scientific reasons why its either a very good or very bad idea... but mainly? Gross. And me and OH used to do nightly torchlit slug patrols with saucepans of salty water and wooden kebab sticks. So if I think you're gross - you're gross.  x

Garden Size

Posted: 07/07/2012 at 06:17

To me, assuming the width is about 25-45ftish, you've got a yard (or terrace if you're posh) which is maybe up to 15ft long, then small which is up to perhaps 50 ft long, 50-80ft is average, 80-180ft good-sized, 180ft to half an acre large, and anything bigger than that is having grounds! I'm in the top end of good-sized myself. But like the saying goes, its what you do with it that counts. x

Inspiration needed! Sunken patio/lawn edging

Posted: 07/07/2012 at 06:00

i have a similar problem, though my patio is where your lawn is and vice versa, with the addition of a nice hazardous pond! My boys are now 3 and 4, but its been this way since before I had them. I've used stone troughs full of houseleeks to create the window-box effect - they're heavy enough to stop a tricycle! I've also planted a border along the edge of the grass to create a visual barrier, just to remind them where the edge is even more. You have to be careful not to just create a nice climbing opportunity - that just means they've that bit farther to fall. I'd probably to the window box thing in your situation and create lavendar hedges in them. You'd still have some structure in the winter then, nobody's gonna put their eye out on it and it'd smell lush as you go by. Just make sure they're heavy. I've had success alternating two types that flower at slightly different times, such as 'hidcote' and 'munstead' to prolong the flowering season.

Conifer Hedge Turned Brown - What Next?

Posted: 07/07/2012 at 05:49

I've had the same problem with mine - caused by drought I think, combined with some over-vigorous trimming by my OH. I've let mine grow this year and am gradually pulling the too-long growth through the dead patches. When its all grown through and put on a few inches, I'll trim it all back very carefully. It'll end up a deeper hedge than before but only by 4 or 5 inches and it should be much improved. Its working so far. As far as your height goes, I'd chop it to the height you want now and see how it goes - no point letting it waste energy growing where you don't want it. If mine dies, I'm planning an 8ft close-picket fence and pyracantha. Yew's too slow, laurel too big, escallonia too leggy, privet too... yuck. What really puts me off making the change is the garden slopes, so panel fencing is a major faff. It's gonna cost me a fortune when that hedge finally croaks. Did used to drive past a house whose privet was dying - they used green spray-paint on the brown patches... Desperate times Nwalch, tee hee!!! x

Small tree - any ideas please?

Posted: 04/07/2012 at 05:33

I'd probably choose the sorbus. There are also several birches that are columnar - I had some 'swedish birch' where the branches actually grew upwards from the trunk. Birds love em. At 15ft tall they were only 2ft diameter or so. Can be topped to keep them whatever height you like and are well-clothed in leaves so screen well.

colour in a shady garden??

Posted: 01/07/2012 at 05:56

Consider getting some colour from foliage as well as flower - euonymous fortunei are tough, easily available and give a patch of yellow or white in shady spots. Other than whats already been mentioned, I've found hellebores, hemerocallis (day lilies) and astilbe flower well in shade. Pleioblastus is one of the few tall elegant grasses that doesn't mind it - carex are good too if you want something smaller and more tussocky. Heucheras are essential for me - particularly the lime green or silvery ones for shade. Hardy geraniums are excellent - if you've got several clumps you can cut back every other one before they flower and they'll happily grow back, but will flower after the ones you left alone have finished, giving you colour for longer. There are gazillions, in white, pinks, deep burgundy and purples. Allium bulbs also do fine in shade in my experience so long as the soil isn't boggy. Overall, my advice is not to forget to vary your foliage colour and texture to stop it all being flat green and you'll get away with the fact that you'll have less flower colour than in a sunnier spot.

fast growing climbers

Posted: 18/06/2012 at 05:36

I'd use pyracantha - in fact, I have! Its a dense, very hardy evergreen shrub with small leaves mainly used against walls or fences. You tie it in initially until it gets the jist and it supports itself after that. It has white flowers in early summer and bunches of berries in autumn. Good for security too, as old growth deeper in is thorny. I trim mine as a hedge annually to keep it tight to the fence/trellis and keep it to 8ft tall. Easy, as the new growth you're chopping is soft and not thorny. I grow eunonymous fortunei through it for its silvery or gold evergreen foliage, plus various small clematis (alpinas, macropetalas, early or late late large-flowered are ideal) for extra flower power. It will clothe right to ground level, or you can trim the trunks bare lower down and underplant. Red column is a good variety. I plant mine 4ft apart and they should grow pretty quickly - just bear in mind that anything super super fast won't stop when you want it to and you could well end up swamped and spending your life pruning. Also, if the sun is coming from the path side and you put up trellis and climbers, most of the flowers will appear on the sunny side! Yeah,  I'd do fence, pyracantha, and clems (which will flower in some shade). Food for thought with all these different ideas anyway... Bx

In need of ideas for a shurb

Posted: 15/06/2012 at 11:49

You could have a look at choisya - it likes clay, doesn't need tonnes of sun, is evergreen, dense, easily prunable to whatever size you want to keep it and is also known as mexican orange blossom for its scented flowers. You might want to put in two next to each other to get the spread. 'Sundance' is particularly nice in shade - its a golden variety but stays true lime green in shade.

coverup climber wanted

Posted: 12/06/2012 at 17:49

When you first mentioned drainpipes I was going to say "anything BUT wisteria". I've just had to remove a beautiful wisteria floribunda from under MY kitchen window because it kept legging it up the drainpipe right to roof level and awa,y and was forever coming in the windows! 30ft + didn't sound that much on the label all those years ago, but it really is. Wisteria sinensis is even bigger, maxing out at 100ft. To get flowers you need to prune wisteria quite carefully twice a year, so it isn't low maintenance. If you don't prune it well and keep tying it in for a few years until the woody framework forms you end up with a huge green hummock without much to recommend it. That said, if you're up for the effort, they're spectacular.

What about trachelospermum jasminoides? Looks a lot like jasmine, smells lush, is evergreen, frost hardy, and is a fair bit bigger ultimately than jasmine or sollya at about 25 feet max. Pretty seed pods after the summer flowers extend the season of interest. Wonder if you could pair it up with an early clematis for the best of both worlds...


coverup climber wanted

Posted: 12/06/2012 at 10:59

Yeah, should've said, officially its half hardy - didn't assume that meant it was not wanted, being in a pot. Depending on where you live, you could leave it out and just insulate the pot a bit, or may not even need that if pot large enough. You'd probably lose some foliage, but its fast to come back in my experience - certainly not the equivalent of using an annual climber. I'm in North Yorkshire (though not in the wilds) and only brought in during that really horrendous cold fornight where it barely got above -20... Lost loads of stuff, mind you - not much in an unprotected pot would've survived that, to be fair. There's always the jasmine...!


Discussions started by auntie betty

topiary ideas

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Flowers for July?

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