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Latest posts by Birdy13

Cotoneaster, ferns and Cotswold stone

Posted: 31/10/2014 at 15:26

The background:

A rather difficult to access corner of my garden was a bit of a nightmare when it came to cutting one particular bit of hedge. Anything of value growing there would get damaged by my feet and the process of gathering up the hedge clippings.

This year I decided to do something about it and in the process make a positive feature of the rather dark, northfacing corner.

The plan:

I moved out plants ( which regularly became overwhelmed with weeds anyway) and cleared the ground.

I built a little curved one brick high wall (engineering bricks for durability) with a shallow foundation around my ferns.

I then covered the ground with weed suppressing membrane and a thick layer of Cotswold stone chippings.

I can get to everything now and will be able to liven up the whole area with some colourful pots.


My qualms and query:

I'm wondering now whether the limestone content of the Cotswold stone will leach through to the ferns and cotoneaster and have a detrimental effect on them.

I know it is too late to backpedal but I might be able to rectify the pH artificially if it becomes a problem. 

Can someone please tell me what are the acid v alkali implications of Cotwold stone chippings?

The ground has always been fairly shaded and damp and the ferns always loved it, but I also wonder whether the hedge might need more water now the ground is covered with membrane and chippings.


Remember to wash your bird feeders

Posted: 24/10/2014 at 11:21

Probably better to leave them soaking for a few days in a bucket of water to loosen everything, maybe with the addition of a suitable anti-mould or disinfectant. Then hose off preferably with a pressure washer.


Posted: 22/10/2014 at 22:21

Thank you so much for that advice, artjak - I should have thought about the heat aspect although I know I must have heard the point made often enough on the gardening shows. Also I'd  not realised that the heat build up could vary that much according to the type of composter.

Just seen the Compost Stirrer on Amazon. Seems so simple and logical. Hopefully the designers will take on board the reviews which state the handle needs to be about a foot longer to facilitate the action of the tool - I think I'll still get one, though.

Hmm!  I wonder if I could modify it?

How Would You Over-Winter These?

Posted: 21/10/2014 at 22:45

I let mine die back naturally last year and lifted the corms quite late I seem to remember. There had just been a frost (not ideal I know) and most of the top growth had rotted back so I  tidied them up with scissors.

I then left the corms spaced out in trays in the greenhouse (unheated) to allow the great clods of earth they came up with to dry. Over the ensuing weeks I removed the surplus earth to let the corms dry off properly (not dry out!).

Then, around Feb/March, as spring approached, I covered them all shallowly with a good layer of compost which was kept only just damp (sprayed now and then).

After a few weeks new shoots began to appear. Once these were an inch or so high they were planted out again in troughs and pots and I was thrilled to find they all produced even better blooms than the previous year, (which had been only my first year's attempt at growing begonias, so I'm no expert!)

Note: some of the above are not trailing begonias. 


Posted: 21/10/2014 at 22:03

Thanks Hostafan - seems the operative word is 'if' - my compost never seems to rot down enough.

Now, it was a different matter when we had our wormery, years ago: the compost they produced was amazing!


Posted: 21/10/2014 at 19:27

Regarding using grass clippings in the compost bin:

1. Is there any risk of lawn weeds multiplying in next year's compost?

2. Do all weeds get killed off by the composting process?

(My bin is Dalek style so I can't turn the heap to help things along...)

Empty Space??

Posted: 21/10/2014 at 19:15

DD said "Nice & easy Birdy, might have another spot to try that in, what is it called? I have a bit of a soggy bottom bit it might like."

Sorry, DD, the fern was planted years ago and I have no idea which one it is. I would choose one you like the look of from a supplier - I think most ferns like similar conditions : darkish, but not all the time; dampish, but not waterlogged... I expect there are plenty of other forum members who can advise further and better than me.

Empty Space??

Posted: 21/10/2014 at 13:14

My ferns (above) die down after the summer and I leave the dead material attached until early spring to act as a mulch. Then I cut it all back with scissors and it renews itself over the next spring and summer.

Empty Space??

Posted: 21/10/2014 at 13:05

How about a fern? 

I'm not sure about the soil being 'rich, crumbly and well drained', however.

This is one of mine - it is still tied back to allow me to clean up the brick border built recently.


It is shaded by the North facing side of the house for most of the day but gets some sun from the eastern side from late afternoon. 


raised beds

Posted: 21/10/2014 at 09:53

I've used very stout railway sleepers which, whilst lower than scaffolding boards, enables me to build higher levels on top if I want to. 

I think your best bet is to dig soil away from the bowing sides (heap it in the middle or away from the bed) and then drive a number of very strong stakes deep in around the outer edges to buttress the sides to restore their alignment and prevent future bowing, before returning the soil to the beds.

Unfortunately, you can't beat the physics of the situation: earth is heavy stuff and I would have thought even scaffold boards are not really up to the job once you start increasing the weight behind them like that, not unless supported from the other side.

I hope you can resolve the problem - I'm sure a lot of us know how difficult it is to bend over a bed that is just too low for comfort.

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