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Latest posts by BrendaScott53

1 to 10 of 52

Can anyone help identify what bird this is?

Posted: 10/03/2014 at 15:17

Greater Spotted Woodpecker, no doubt!  I reckon we always think they're going to be much bigger than they actually are!  They're a bit bigger than a blackbird.  Lovely bird.  If it has a red neck patch at the back of it's head it's a male.  The female doesn't have one of these, just a black neck.

Anyone have a garden blackbird?

Posted: 10/03/2014 at 15:11

Ah, Mister Rat!  Opportunist, intelligent and forever with us!  We had a huge outdoor rat problem after our last cat died....within three years the rats had colonised the garden shed ( by digging under it ).  When I saw one ON the bird table, eating the bird food ( our cats never bothered with birds - too many feathers, too little meat ) I decided enough was enough.  The new cats have put paid to any sign of Mister Rat, and the only mice and voles I've seen ( we live in an agricultural farming area ) are the regurgitated ones.

And yes, Mister Blackbird and his ladies are happily in residence and unmolested in the beech hedges!

A few years ago we had a blackbird who sang, as part of his repertoire, a very convincing 'Trim-Fone' trill.  Goodness knows where he'd learned it, probably from someone's ringtone, but it was unbelievably accurate.  He was with us for about three years but sadly I've not heard that distinctive warble for a few.  And no, he disappeared BEFORE the new rat-catchers arrived!

Is this the dreaded Japanese Knotweed!! Ident and advise required

Posted: 10/03/2014 at 15:01

Paul, when was this photo taken?  JK won't be growing yet and certainly wouldn't be that height in March, no matter where you live in the UK.  Gardeners are allowed to treat it, and should if it's on their land - glyphosate.  Treat in summer when plant is in flower, cut back stems ( they're hollow ), pour in recommended dosage of glyphostae and plug top of cut stem with cotton wool.

I don't think this is JK, by the way!

Plant Gift Ideas 60th Birthdays

Posted: 03/01/2014 at 12:31

I was 60 on Christmas Eve and I have half an acre of garden and arthritis.  I didn't want any plants for my birthday. What I wanted was a couple of hardy perennial gardeners.....

Propagating and Growing Bilberries

Posted: 09/05/2013 at 22:24

so...I take it I'm the only bilberry fan out here!


Complete novice thwarted by the weeds!

Posted: 05/05/2013 at 13:53

My garden is full of horsetail and it's a PIG to remove.  Spraying isn't an option for me as it's amongst lots of plants I don't want to kill.  I might try the new Roundup Gel which can be 'spot' applied although I'm not sure it will work.  The roots are amazingly long and tough, but they are rich in silica so are GREAT for making into a wee brush and using to polish pewter!

Propagating and Growing Bilberries

Posted: 05/05/2013 at 13:45

I haven't seen bilberries for sale in greengrocers/supermarkets for decades, but I remember the wonderful bilberry pies my Granny baked back in the 1950's, probably with fruit she picked in the wild. 

I would really love to grow my own but hear that they are exceptionally hard to get started ( although they don't seem to suffer in the wild! ).  I have just bought 50 seeds.....what next?  I have plenty of rough acidic ground and am in Aberdeenshire, so it's certainly cold enough!

I'm not a fan of the American blueberry, what I want are good, old-fashioned British bilberries!

Any advice would be gratefully welcomed.


Posted: 17/10/2012 at 14:01

Up here in chilly Scotland I treat wallflowers as biennials and grow them from bought seed every option and pretty foolproof, they're SO easy ( I don't have a greenhouse, you don't need one ).  A couple of quid, if that, almost 100% germination, just let them get big enough and then pot on and leave them till the autumn to plant out into their final flowering position.  I always have them under the sitting room window with Spanish ( sorry! ) Bluebells and the old fashioned garden tulips ( mostly red and yellow )  and they're marvellous.  They also look wonderful with forget-me- not.  Just plant the wallflowers and chuck in a packet of seed!  I never even try to keep them from year to year, it would be unfeasible up here.  Once they've finished flowering out they come and go straight into the compost bin, to be replaced, once the ground has been fed,  in October by the new ones that have been grown from seed.

Try 'Painted Lady' which is commonly available and is a reliable variety in a host of lovely colours.

Talkback: How to lift and store dahlias

Posted: 17/10/2012 at 13:46

Dahlias are lovely and so worth the effort, but up here in the north east of Scotland they can be really tricky to lift ( once frosted ) and dry out and store.  More often than not even storing them upside down in a greenhouse will result in rot. Here's what I do:

1. Once frost turns foliage black, cut back, lift tubers, shake off as much soil as possible

2. Get them indoors, in a garden sieve and put them on top of the boiler or somewhere with an even gentle heat to dry out ( airing cupboard for instance )

3. Once COMPLETELY dry and looking wizened, I wrap them in newspaper and store them in cat litter!  This is, of course, highly absorbent and your tubers should come through the winter and be ready to plant out into pots the following spring.  The slightest trace of moisture and they will rot.

We used to have cats and when they'd 'gone' to the Great Litter Tray In The Sky we had a big brewing-bin in the boiler room full of unused kitty litter - and the dahlias have never looked back!  I do have to leave myself notes hither and yon, to remind me of their existence, but good old fuller's earth does seem to do the trick.


Berry-eating birds will need more help this year

Posted: 17/10/2012 at 13:29

It's cold and wetly frosty up here in Aberdeenshire ( does that make sense? ) and I've been out in the garden this morning for a couple of hours, accompanied by 'my' robin, who regularly stops my work so he can fossick through the wheelbarrow and I can just stand back and admire him.  It's been a dreadful year for crops - we've had NO apples from our four trees ( and that's a 'first' in 24 years of living here ), no gooseberries, no blackcurrants, no white currants ( all of which we grow for the blackbirds consumption and not ours ) and pathetic crops of berries on our four rowans.  It's been grim. Even the viburnum opulus has provided not one single berry.  There are some goodly hips forming on my Rosa complicata but the blackbirds will soon make short work of those.

The birds are my main priority through winter and I will do everything I can to make sure that everyone gets a fair and suitable share.  Own-Brand oats are dead cheap and I usually make them into a porridge with warm water and scraps, bacon rind, raisins or currants ( also the cheaper 'own brand' type ) left over bits of cheese gratings, chopped up apples from the fruit bowl that have passed their best for we humans...I also put out fat balls, seed, peanuts, coconut halves crammed with melted and re-set lard ( cheap ) with added seeds and nuts and scraps.And, of course, bread, which may not be nutritious but it fills little feathered bellies when there's not much else on offer.

Our gardens - indeed our lives - without birds - wouldn't be worth the living, at least that's what I think.  Their toughest time of year is coming up.  Let's all do what we can.  It doesn't have to break the bank.

1 to 10 of 52

Discussions started by BrendaScott53

Propagating and Growing Bilberries

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