Latest posts by blackcap

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Guilty of overmanicuring gardens at the expense of wildlife?

Posted: 09/03/2015 at 13:14

It's bad enough that humans are destroying/reducing parts of our countryside with serious impact on our wildlife - we are now doing it in our own backyards!  I love the birds that come into my garden and, now, in early March, they are foraging all around my garden looking for materials to build their nests. They can do this because I am more concerned about our birds that I am a neat, tidy garden.  I have left my garden all winter and they are reaping the benefits. Most of the materials they need to build nests (from twigs/leaves/moss, etc.; they have in my garden. They will continue to reap the benefits for a good few weeks yet before I consider making a start on the garden, which I also hope will help with feeding their young. Why can't gardeners leave their gardens now in early spring, they are not that bad, when it is so vital for our wildlife?  Also, I cannot understand why people want to landscape over gardens with gravel/paving slabs, etc. with very little or no grass, 'designer' plants that are of no use to wildlife.  It is no wonder that we are helping with the declining numbers of birds visiting our garden.  Does anyone agree?

By they way, I also have two cats. They were collars with 2 bells on and I keep them in when I feed the birds. Plus I keep them in during the day whilst the birds are nest building/feeding their young.  They are happy cats.   Another topic perhaps, but it's on the subject of helping our wildlife, especially the birds.  


Posted: 08/08/2013 at 22:34

Thanks very much Fairygirl and Addict.  Gosh, you are both so knowledgeable.  Like the sound of those plants. Will get down to the garden centre.



Posted: 08/08/2013 at 22:20

Thank you very much Berghill and Addict.  Really appreciate such helpful advice.

Wouldn't know where to begin to cut back rhododendron. Feel I would ruin it if I tried. It's also nearly covering a rose bush but feel there is nothing I can do about it as Rhode is so bushy.  No doubt my dad would have dealt with things years ago but I have them let them go I guess.  Have a lot to learn.

 Also at the side of the mock orange there is a large, wide conifer, but, it still generally grows and flowers really well. But, having said that, not all the branches actually flowered this year which ties in with what Berghill said.  Learning things every day. 

Thanks again.


Posted: 08/08/2013 at 14:06

Can someone spare a few moments to advise, in their experience,  the easiest evergreen plants/shrubs to grow and perennial plants?  I have 2 pyracanthas in pots I am looking after for her (given as a gift) and guess they will need to be planted in a sunny spot??  Do they need to be supported? 

Also need to fill a border approx 8ft x 2ft.  Prefereably hardy plants that require very little maintenance at all!!   No height restriction.  My neighbour is not a keen gardener plus has little time to spend in the garden.  

I have a few ideas but my knowledge is limited.  Would welcome advise from experienced gardeners.  Maybe a bit of a tough ask as maybe quite a few plants to choose from but any advice would be appreciated.  Thank you very much.



Posted: 08/08/2013 at 13:46

Again, thank you very much Berghill.  I had a feeling the liatris didn't re-flower.   Disappointing but recall they should stay looking good for a while yet (bees certainly hope so!).  Will remove stems this year. 

Not so impressed with red hot pokers - flowered well but now only have a mass of leaves (though two stems are coming through).  Wonder if letting them go to seed last year has caused this mass of folliage only as in limited area to spread (surrounded by flowers) and too weak to flower?    





Posted: 08/08/2013 at 13:37

Perfect, clear advice.  Thank you very much.  Will follow your advice.  Very interesting to note how you cut back your Belle Etoile Phil..  (don't know the name of mine. My dad planted it at least 15 years ago).  I have another Mock orange in a large container (cutting from original).  Again,grew well but not all stems flowered (but I didn't prune it last year!).  May try cutting back all stems to near base and see what happens next year.

Many thanks again.



Rhododendron help

Posted: 08/08/2013 at 12:55

Very same thing has happened to my small rhododendron plant.  Every time time I look at night I cannot see anything (probably spot me with my torch and hide!!).  I am certain it is not slugs or snails.  I have a hypericum next to eat which has been well eaten by leaf cutters but never see them either!   My taller rhododendrons are doing very well with small signs of leaves being eaten but they flowered very well this year.

I don't want to kill our wildlife, especially caterpillers and not that precious about my plants so will not use slug pellets (am sure do more harm than good).  Nematodes have been mentioned - is this a pellet or in spray form?  Will it kill caterpillars?

Now and again I collect slugs and snails and take them to a nature reserve as won't kill them but I tend to leave the caterpillars. (Hoping the birds will get the little cabbage white ones at least but not sure they do?). .



Posted: 08/08/2013 at 12:42

Same here.  It is a fantastic sight. First time in some years I have seen so many.  I have no idea why.


Posted: 08/08/2013 at 12:33

I have quote a few liatris in my garden. All growing well - some of them very tall and and all loved by bees and butterflies. My question: when they start to look ragged and dying, do you cut the whole stem near the base and will this encourage new stems to grow?  I didn't deadhead any of them last year and let them go to seed. Would prefer prolonged flowering if these two plants allow that with deadheading?

Help and avice would be very welcome please.  Thank you.



Posted: 08/08/2013 at 12:20

I have a very tall mock orange (must be 9-10ft) growing behind a large rhododendren plant.  Not sure if I have been pruning it right for years as pruned in spring.  The main hub of branches ar now coming from about third of the way up (partly due to less light from rhododendren and my bad pruning).  And new spires formed higher up again from errratic pruning perhaps. Growing very well for some reason!  Very dense spires and some have a lot of blackfly/ants. So, do I cut ALL the spires back to certain point now or just thin out?  Advice would be very welcome.

Thank you.

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