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Charlie November

Latest posts by Charlie November


Posted: 10/08/2013 at 09:02

For that steep back slope, I'd say "wildflower meadow," probably partly because it looks like it's halfway there already. It'd be a great place for birds to hunt bugs.

Alternative idea: orchard.

On a slope like that, you don't want high maintenance stuff and you don't want anything that produces its own tripwires, so brambles and honeysuckles are probably things to avoid.

For the front, low shrubs. Low, because you don't want them to shade out the place you stood to take that picture. Hardy perennials are your friends, because you only have to buy them once and plant them once. If you've got a cheap source of rocks, you could turn the whole thing into a terraced strawberry field, but that may be taking "I like strawberries" a bit too far. A few interesting "architectural" plants and a lot of year-round foliage, with something in flower most months, should work.

I'd advise against bulbs, because they don't hold the soil in place very well, especially when they're dormant, so your whole garden would get washed downhill quite quickly.

If that's an ash tree drooping down on the right of the first image, I'd suggest cutting that branch back quite hard before you start, or it'll be hitting you on the head while you work and then you'll have nowhere to stand to cut it without trampling your new plants.

Help needed to create a new garden

Posted: 09/08/2013 at 17:37

Speaking of seed heads, I found a loaded Allium Star of Persia seed head and could probably post it. Should have thought of that at the time. From what I've read, though, it could be a few years before plants grown from seed build up enough bulb size to feel like they can go for flowers.

Help needed to create a new garden

Posted: 07/08/2013 at 18:04

I just found my layered winter jasmine Jasminum nudiflorum. It's ... doing quite well. It's spread out three feet each way from its little tiny pot. The parent plant's got its mind set on crossing the driveway. 30 metres of front wall between it and the drive yet, but it's working on it.

One "Late Dutch" honeysuckle is growing shrub-like in a pot by the shed, the "Cream cascade" honeysuckle Lonicera japonica halliana is probably layered in all three pots by now. It was in two pots but then I foudn out it had layered itself into the lawn, so I moved that into a pot too.

They're yours if you want them, although we're a way apart.

No evidence of success with Akebia yet. Stubborn thing.

Roses finally finished flowering this week. Haven't tried to layer them yet. Reluctant to cut brambles out of the way while they're loaded with fruit ripening for the birds, so may take cuttings of the roses instead.

Mares Tail - how to win

Posted: 29/07/2013 at 19:42

So ... it's been around since the time of the dinosaurs, it's survived huge amounts of tectonic drift, several ice ages and goodness knows how many supervolcano eruptions, it laughs at almost every weedkiller we have, it takes ploughing as a chance to reproduce .....

..... and that stuff kills it dead in hours?

I'm thinking these guys are almost adequately dressed to deploy that stuff.

Pest problem on Allotment

Posted: 19/07/2013 at 17:46

This guy?

Small predator, eating smaller things ... possibly including red spider mites? Not a herbivore, anyway.

Millipedes are mostly detritivores, i.e. they convert dead leaves and old teabags to good compost, but they may do serious damage to seedlings, so they're a friend in the potato patch or rose bed but not something you want in your seedling trays.

Hogweed in my meadow

Posted: 19/07/2013 at 17:37

Isn't giant hogweed a bi- or tri-annual? If you manage to get every plant every year so none of them ever produce a seed, it should be scarce four years from now. I think the seeds have been known to wait up to seven years and then sprout again, though, so you'd have to stay vigilant, and if you have a riverbank in that meadow it'll get seeds washed up from further upriver.

Some sprayers have an optional sponge attachment that you can use to wipe weedkiller on to leaves without spraying at all, but you'll get sap on the sponge, so don't touch it afterwards!

Actual eradication plan if you are on a river:

Get an army.

Start scouts at the tops of tributaries, each equipped with a map and a pen. Each scout follows one side of a watercourse downhill, marking on the map every hogweed found.

Copy all hogweed finds onto your master map at HQ, and mark them with the date.

Send out sprayer crews to the hogweeds furthest up each watercourse. Each crew needs a spotter to make sure they don't do something stupid, a sprayer to deliver the toxin and a chopper with a really long spear to lop off flower heads. Each crew marks as far down the river as they got before they ran out of ammo or the wind came up.

Repeat spraying on suitable days until your teams get downstream of you.

Repeat the whole process next year, and the year after that, and the year after that and so on for eight years. Starting in year nine, you can start your scout teams a little further downstream, because any watercourse where no plants have been found in 8 years can be declared clear.

Once the scouts are starting downstream of you, you can declare local victory, and then find out that someone's transported seeds or contaminated soil to a site upstream of you and the b*****d things are BACK.


So, ah, which river valley are we doing first?


Posted: 14/07/2013 at 19:08

Two things:

1) mine took a few years to flower, too, and like many things climbing the northern side of my southern fence it flowered once it had climbed into the sunlight at the top and ran short of places to climb higher.

2) websites selling honeysuckle often say that it flowers particularly well "if kept in check," meaning, presumably, as a response to pruning. As long as it's got climbing to do, it's likely to focus on that.

Feline Invaders.....AKA Cats

Posted: 11/07/2013 at 21:09

It's a weird place that cats occupy, isn't it? If a child, adult human, puppy, adult dog, pet crocodile, wild crocodile, eagle, fox or bear were to capture a human or any pet and deliberately kill it very slowly rather than quickly, then abandon the corpse once its suffering could bring no more pleasure, they'd be hunted down and destroyed ... or incarcerated in a mental home, in the human perpetrator case. If a dog did that to a cat, the dog owner would be selling the house to pay the compensation costs and be banned from ever owning another dog. When grey squirrels come into my garden and go for the birds' food and their nests, I can legally blow holes in them, as long as I'm careful about it, and I can likewise shoot rats and pigeons. If someone shot a dog to save their cat in their own garden, they'd probably get away with it, but if I were to acquire a .357 Magnum and a load of Glaser blue safety slugs (responsible shooter here, after all) or legally acquire a hunting rifle (and choose my angles carefully) or shotgun and blow away a cat to protect the songbirds in my garden, I'd be in all sorts of trouble, wouldn't I? "Oh, my precious little angel" and all that. Then if you mention the birds they tell you "It's nature." Yeah? If a stonking great golden eagle sets up home around here and takes to eating cats, will the cat owners accept that "it's nature" then, too?

I say that if the thing's "companionship" is that vaulable to you, you should keep it where it can "accompany" you: indoors. See for a comic about two indoor cats that are kept indoors. Yes, they use a litter tray.

Maybe the answer is to get a cat of my own, not so I can be infected with mind-altering parasites (that's a thing) and fall in love with moggies in general, but so that I can use against the invaders the one weapon their owners have decreed fair to use against anything, anywhere, any time. I wonder whether cheetahs or ocelots are more fiercely territorial.

Mare's Tail

Posted: 11/07/2013 at 20:48

Not sure crushing the stems is the best way to rough them up. I'd try scraping the sides with a Stanley knife blade, or even slicing them longitudinally. You could also get the weedkiller to stay on them by soaking a scrap of cloth in it, wrapping that around the shoot and bagging it there. Both together ought to get the stuff in. Whether it works applied directly to roots I don't know.

Ammonium nitrate's another one the IRA liked. Mix that with fuel oil and you get ANFO, popular stuff for blasting. Mix it with nitromethane and you get ANNM, which is even better or worse, depending mostly on who's using it for what. I don't think that's a good approach to your weeds, through. It'd just scatter viable root fragments ... and rocks.

If it does come to relaying the flags, we found that two bits of thin rope really help, because two people can each hold one end of each rope, cradling the flag between them, to raise and lower it without gouging the sand.


Posted: 01/07/2013 at 17:42

Not sure how well a Super Soaker would stand up to being loaded with vinegar long-term, but a direct hit with that ought to leave a lasting impression and associated reluctance to return.

Discussions started by Charlie November

Holy glyphosate, Batman! What's that?

Huge thing with tiny white flowers and heart-shaped leaves 
Replies: 16    Views: 622
Last Post: 24/06/2014 at 16:52

Rose cuttings: timing

Replies: 7    Views: 427
Last Post: 31/03/2014 at 17:26

When is honey fungus not honey fungus?

At least I didn't spend anything. 
Replies: 18    Views: 1704
Last Post: 26/10/2013 at 16:46

Apple tree with white leaves

It seems to be healthy enough, if slow-growing 
Replies: 2    Views: 369
Last Post: 10/09/2013 at 18:34


Not a lily. Not an apple tree. 
Replies: 6    Views: 538
Last Post: 10/09/2013 at 22:29


Planning? Measuring? Me? 
Replies: 17    Views: 934
Last Post: 07/05/2014 at 16:57

Leaving tulips in the ground

Can they be left in if the drainage is good? 
Replies: 14    Views: 2330
Last Post: 13/05/2013 at 08:09
7 threads returned