Charlie November

Latest posts by Charlie November

Cuttings from Wisteria?

Posted: 14/06/2013 at 23:44

No personal experience with wisteria but ... 


Site 1:

Cuttings of wisteria need to be taken from the softwood. This is wood that is still green and has not developed woody bark. The cutting should be about 3-6 inches long and have at least 2 sets of leaves on the cutting. Wisteria cuttings root best if taken in late spring or early summer. Once you have the cutting, remove any sets of leaves found on the lower half of the wisteria cutting. These will be the main points where new roots will develop. Trim the cutting so that the lowest node (where the leaves you just removed were) are 1/2 -1/4 inch from the bottom of the cutting.


Site 2:

The cuttings should be 4 to 6 inches long and you can take them either late in the winter ("hardwood" cuttings) or in early summer, after the flush of new growth has slowed ("semi-hardwood"). Rooting hormone powder speeds the formation of roots. You'll need almost greenhouse-like conditions of bright light and high humidity.


Well, that's nice and contradictory, isn't it?

I think in general it's an early summer job, so you get a growing piece as a cutting and the cutting gets all summer to sort itself out while it's sunny and is a plant ready to be put in the ground in spring.

What they say about plastic bags and greenhouse conditions is what described in the honeysuckle thread:

Use a large plant pot.

Put short canes around the sides of it.

Fill it with moist but not wet compost.

Get a bucket (or vase, mug, coffee jar or watering can) of water.

Cut off a short length of growing stem with a few pairs of leaves, and immediately put the cut end into the water so it doesn't dry out.

If it'll take you a while to get the cutting to the bucket, take a longer cutting and cut off the bottom few inches under the water. Cuttings dry out from the cut end upwards.

Remove the lower leaves from your cutting. I stripped the outer bark off the bottom inch too. It'll try to heal, and how it tries to heal depends on where it finds itself.

You can add hormone rooting powder or other goop at this point, but I didn't bother and it still worked.

Transfer the cutting from the bucket to the centre of the pot of compost.

In some cases, this could be enough. Winter-flowering honeysuckle stem 18" long rammed 12" deep in the soft soil behind the compost heap has become a small shrub. However, the greenhouse thing helps. Your cutting has no root system, but it does have leaves, putting it at risk of drying out. You can't remove all the leaves or it'll have no source of power and CO2, and you can't soak the compost or it'll rot, so you raise the humidity around the exposed part to reduce evaporation.

A clear plastic bag put down over the canes and the pot and taped into place will hold in the moisture, saving your cutting from drying out.

Common advice is to give it a gentle tug to see whether it's rooted, but I knew mine had when I saw them producing new leaves.

If you want to take things a step further in caring for the cutting, you can include a little water dish on top of the compost in the pot to raise the humidity.

You can also, if you're really going for it, stick a drinking straw into the bag and blow warm, moist, CO2-rich air into the bag every day. That might be going too far, but hey, it may help.

sky high plants

Posted: 14/06/2013 at 17:21

We get something like that on the Ure. You know Himalayan balsam? It supposedly grows up to four feet tall. Shyeah, right. Here, with all the fertilizer runoff, it's 8 feet tall. That giant hogweed stuff? 12 feet, they tell me. Yeah. 20, more like. I've got a hydrangea here that supposedly grows fifteen metres tall, and I'm just slightly tempted to see what it can do in that soil.

Evergreen Flowering climber

Posted: 14/06/2013 at 17:15

Someone's pyracantha by the footpath has just come into flower, and Ben's right. It's beautiful! There are little white flowers in huge numbers on every branch, of which there are many because I keep stealth-pruning the thing to keep it out of people's faces. I expect a huge crop of yellow berries later, after which I shall have to prune it again because it's vigorous.

Today I feel so happy....

Posted: 12/06/2013 at 21:25

Today, one of the robins did what he or she has seen one of the coal tits do many times over the last few weeks: fly down to my outstretched hand and perch on a finger to take a mealworm from my palm.

Nest Box Camera?

Posted: 12/06/2013 at 18:25

My old £15 Logitech webcam would have done just fine, I reckon. It didn't see in the dark, but it got some good close-ups and could take video as well as stills. The bigger issue would be the housing for it. You've got to get power in there somehow, and keep it dry.

My approach would be to build my own box (because when I buy them from a website they get destroyed by a breeze but the ones I build for myself can survive a 15ft fall and put a dent in the field) with extra space above the entrance hole, and put the camera in a clear plastic housing in the top space, with a USB lead through a neat little hole in the bottom of the plastic housing and the back of the box, then mount it on the house wall and feed the cable up into the loft behind the barge boards. You'll need a powered hub if it's not close to the computer.

Help needed to create a new garden

Posted: 12/06/2013 at 18:14

Hmm. 90 miles. Halfway point would be Clitheroe or Halifax, roughly. Quite the trek.

Set up the purple-flowered Akebia to layer today. No promises. One stem in an ice-cream pot duct-taped to the trellis  and one in the inner bag from a cereal box, wired to a stick that's wired to the trellis. Very professional here, all the right tools and so on.

Help needed to create a new garden

Posted: 11/06/2013 at 22:08

Well, "Late Dutch" honeysuckle was already air layered, so I definitely have that.

"Cream Cascade" honeysuckle Lonicera japonica halliana, 2 stems in 1 pot;

Orange-flowered honeysuckle Lonicera x tellmanniana, 1 stem in 1 pot;

White-flowered chocolate vine Akebia quinata 'Shirobana', 2 stems in 2 pots and

Winter jasmine Jasminum nudiflorum, 2 stems in 1 pot

... have all just been set up to layer, so I should have some of them available this or next autumn. I've also cleared a space in front of one of the the purple-flowered chocolate vines to set that up tomorrow. Had to stop as it's getting rather dark out there.

Looking at the pictures, I see slotted concrete posts, and I'm guessing those are 183cm x 183cm panels between them. Isn't it convenient that they sell trellises the same size? A few holes drilled into each post, a rawlplug in each hole, a wooden batten screwed to each post as a spacer and a trellis in front of each panel and you could turn the whole left side of picture 1 into a wall of climbers. Quite an initial investment of effort, but then it's a simple once-a-year pruning job. Every strip you take off that lawn reduces the once-a-week mowing job!

Oh no, lily beetles are back!

Posted: 10/06/2013 at 21:31

Good news: they can't swim.

I have a bird bath between the lily patch and the flower bed that includes lilies. Grab a beetle, flick it into the water and forget it.

Help needed to create a new garden

Posted: 10/06/2013 at 21:28
Dovefromabove wrote (see)

I think I'd ask your daughter what she wants to do in her garden


Good idea!


Fairygirl wrote (see)

Is there any way members here could donate surplus seeds, cuttings or plants? There may also be members near enough to you who could help arranging extra hands to help with the heavier stuff involved.

Any thoughts anyone?

Good ideas too. I'm not sure what I can get from my father's larger garden. Maybe a bit of his Choisya! He's got my winter-flowering honeysuckles because they're shrubs not climbers and I've got a little one grown from a cutting taken when I was digging them out from under the trellis because they're shrubs not climbers. I presume I could get another one from them. I've got winter jasmine, red-flowered summer jasmine, purple-flowered akebia, white-flowered akebia and three twining honeysuckles (white-yellow-orange, orange and white-and-purple flowers) that I should be able to layer, and some apple and pear trees growing from pips just for the laugh with no homes yet identified.

I'm "somewhere in England" ... near York.

Help needed to create a new garden

Posted: 10/06/2013 at 21:20

Probably is all thin turf over all the rubble left over from construction. Standard practice in the building trade, that.

By the angles of shadows, I'm guessing the left side in the first picture is the north side, meaning that fence gets a lot of sun. Good spot for Choisya.

I'd agree with "bit by bit" but plan your bits so you don't find one in the way of another (never plant the bulbs before you've finished trimming the hedge behind them, for example) and in general I'd say start at one side and work your way across or start big and fill in the small stuff later. It's a lot easier to change your mind about the Asiatic lily than it is to change your mind about the apple tree, right?

Wheelchair on lawn ... depends on the wheelchair and the weather. Soggy lawns wouldn't be much fun. A loop of path may be a good addition. Space out the strongly-scented ones along it, so you and she can enjoy the different fragrances on the way round.

Check the estate rules before planting anything "heeyauge" because there may be some sort of tenants' agreement that covers owner-occupiers too and prohibits ... trees over 20ft, or whatever.

If Sarah's into birds, provision for birds should be a feature. They get "friendly" (made bold by desperation, more like, in some cases) when they're feeding the young. For the birds' sakes, it's best to put the feeders seven feet up, surrounded by dense thorn bushes, with no clear route for a hawk and nowhere a cat can climb up and jump across ... but that's not much good for someone in a wheelchair on the patio who wants to watch them and can't reach to refill the feeders. A feeder pole, out of pounce range of the fence, could be good. With a simple tool (L-shaped stick) the feeders could be lifted down for filling and lifted back up when full, and that would bring birds to the edge of the patio. It's a bit hawk-friendly, though. You'd want something big and thick (no, not the Colour Sergeant, a tree) close behind it to give them somewhere to hide. Hawthorn's fairly good at becoming cover, but not really friendly. An elder tree might do well, if you prune it hard. I cut one right back to a bare trunk here in autumn, and it regrew so quickly I had to prune it in June to stop the green branches breaking off under their own weight and again in November, and now it's a dense bush on a pole, which should become great bird cover next year after one more pruning this October or November.

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