auntie betty

Latest posts by auntie betty

Buy or make a raised pond

Posted: 11/07/2013 at 19:19

I'd make a stone one - its really easy. I've just built myself 2.5m x 4m one and I'M A GIRL!! Mine was complicated because a) I wanted an irregular shape, b) its big, so needed an interior breezeblock retaining wall first, c) I wanted dry stone walling around it with stone capping and d) I had loads of old rough limestone I wanted to use, but this did not come in anywhere near uniform shapes and sizes. If you're after a rectangle and don't need double thickness walls, I'd get some stone and go at it. I dug a trench of about 5 inches deep and 4 inches wider than my total wall thickness, then filled with readymix concrete. Gave it a few days to go off. Then squished some mortar on top and started building. The breezeblocks were a doddle, being uniform, and the whole lot took me about half a day. Btw, I used readymix mortar from B&Q, but subsituted some of the water for liquid latex (from builder's merchant) just to give it a bit of extra frost/water-proofing. Its the stuff they add to render for the same reason. Makes the mortar stickier, so easier for a novice to use as well. Easy peasy. Putting a wider stone slab (eg. the foot square ones) on top as a coping works well, and it hides the edge of your liner if you overhang in by an inch or so.. Honestly, my boys' lego is more complicated. I honestly think anyone can be a brickie if they're only doing low walls - its staying true going upwards thats the tricky bit!

Communal garden - council keeps destroying our plants

Posted: 09/07/2013 at 16:54

Put your plants in decent sized pots. Then they cant mow over them. Its not right that they feel free to damage your plants, whether you own the land or just have right of usage, but the cheapest easiest solution my be potting. And mint and rosemary will grow happily, provided pots are of good size and you use something like John Innes, rather than multipurpose compost, which isn't designed for the long term.

How best to plant my Astilbes in sandy soil

Posted: 09/07/2013 at 16:45

Don't fret - astilbes do prefer wet, but aren't desperately fussy and temperamental by the standards of many. I myself prefer 20C and a coastal breeze, but I'm struggling on. To realy pamper them, dig a hole twice as deep as the astilbe pots and the width of roughly however big you think they'll get. Get a bg binbag and cut slices every couple of inches to let water thru, then pop in the bottom and a little up sides of the hole. Backfill with soil and plant as usual. Adding a wee bit of pre-soaked swell-gel around the roots wouldn't hurt (i've been soaking mine in plant food mix). It'll all just help the area hold water longer and stay cooler, which will help somewhat even in the long term, but be really beneficial while they establish. Btw, its worth checking them after a week and possibly popping some more soil over them - sandy soil has a tendency to sink anyway, but there'll have been pockets in the binbag 'liner' that should have filled within the first week or so, potentially leaving the rootballs a bit proud, which astilbes on a light soil and in a heat wave will HATE! If in doubt, bury them extra deep to be sure they wont bake when you turn your back for 5 minutes! Bx


Posted: 09/07/2013 at 16:26

oh, I'm envious. Can't do proper lupins cos they get slugged to bits. Have sown my own tree lupins b4, which was a doddle. Might do some more for with my sisy actually... Have had a potentilla nearby croak recently so perhaps the tl could replace... What I really want is lupin 'thundercloud' tho. Scrummy.

Help my bleak garden!

Posted: 09/07/2013 at 10:17

Hey GC. In general, you want fewer things that are larger, rather than loads of differet diddy things. Small scale planting makes spaces seem even smaller. Which bits are sunny and which shady? And is the soil light/heavy/dry/sticky...? Another 4 or 5 things around the place, of the scale of the 2 biggies on fence, would help it feel immediately established, and then leave you freer to fill in the areas between them as and when something takes your fancy. If you look for nurseries local to you, you should be able to get decent sized shrubs/climbers much more cheaply than in garden centres. Start a post asking if anyone knows any good ones local to you.. Gives u somewhere to start. Nursery staff tend to be very knowledgeable too, so can be really helpful, provided u give them the info I asked for..


Posted: 09/07/2013 at 10:04

Anyone found any unusual / noteworthy plant combos? I've got a goody - huge bergenia cordifolia at front, medium-sized blue geranium behind, interplanted with aster divaricatus (so the aster flowers flops all over the bergenia and the geranium flowers nod just above it) with crocosmia (montbretia) at the back. This helps prop up the geraniums and flowers when the others have finished. This combo keeps me in colour for months and never bores me. Looks particularly gorgeous for me as backlit in the morning. The crocosmia leaves just glow above the dark, opaque bergenia. Kind of behind and to one side I have a large purple cotinus I squidge bedding cosmos into and a little bit of alchemilla around the place. All very nice and changing continuously through the year.

Looking for some nice bedfellows for sisyrinchium at mo as have just opened up my first ever truly sun-baked bed. On a steep incline too, so drainage can be extreme... Any thoughts?



Posted: 09/07/2013 at 09:44

Well, I took the plunge and it's PERFECT! Most of my garden is on a steep incline, so clambering about with wateringcan was problematic. This thing has chaged my life! Its just like a standard push-fit hose gun, but with a small bottle of liquid feed on the back. Even got different spray options, incl feed/no feed. Let's see if it lasts... Tbh, if I had to buy a new one every spring it'd be well worth it.. Who knew!?

Duck / no duck

Posted: 08/07/2013 at 14:43

My husband desperately wants ducks. I quite like the idea, but don't want my garden completely ruined. That said, its a fairly 'rustic' looking garden so I'm not going to get prissy about the odd duck-jobby on the lawn or nibbled herb. Does anyone on here keep free-ranging ducks? I'm considering 2 or 3 mini silver appleyards and want to let them have free run except for at night. Boundaries are already dog/fox/rabbit/chicken-proof. We've got a pond (about 2.5m x 4) - which I fully expect they'll trash. Any experience/advice welcomed - I am used to a variety of pets and the compromises they involve, though never had wildfowl before. Bx

Long, narrow border ideas

Posted: 06/07/2013 at 05:48

i agree - lavender and nothing else, assuming the soil is pretty light and poor. I'd suggest alternating hidcote and munstead. Both are commonly (and cheaply) avaiable. One starts flowering just before the other, and one goes on til a bit later than the other, so you get flowers for almost twice as long. They're otherwise virtually identical, so you'd never know you had 2 different types. Clip them after flowering every year to keep them bushy instead of leggy. If the plant you buy seem to have lots of shoots coming from the soil surface, then plant at the same depth as they were in the pots. If they've got a main 'trunk' and then bush out above, plant them so the bottoms of those 'branches' are slightly under the soil surface. They'll thicken up much faster - this is in fact a common way of propagating them, so won't do any harm so long as the soil isn't permanently boggy. If the soil is very heavy, you'd do better with a long run of hardy geranium.


Posted: 05/07/2013 at 05:36

Has anyone used one of the plant food sprayer jobbies that attach to your hose? I've finally tired of lumping a watering can around but find reviews of this alternative to be mixed. Can anyone recommend a brand (or advise on what to avoid?). Cheers dears, Bx

Discussions started by auntie betty

topiary ideas

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Duck / no duck

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PVC Fencing

Anyone used this? 
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swell gel and plant food

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shrubs for cut flowers

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Soft yellow or hot pink climbing roses

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best annuals for shade / partial shade

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Flowers for July?

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Shadyish paving creepers

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