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Charlie November

Latest posts by Charlie November

Shade loving evergreen climber

Posted: 08/07/2015 at 23:16

Patsy, if you do that make sure you're not bridging the damp-proof course. Most house walls are designed to have air around them, and you can have problems if you pile soil against them.

Help for a new gardener

Posted: 08/07/2015 at 23:12

Don't be tempted by creeping ivy. It's like herpes: easy to get, impossible to lose.

I'm near York and have cuttings and layerings of honeysuckles available. Akebia seeds should be available later in the year (at 70 per fruit like last year, I'd expect about 900 seeds this year) so if you want some in the post to grow indoors and plant out along the fence, I can send them once I have them.

Hydrangea will climb just about anything, as it can cling like ivy. They don't get to be 15m tall very quickly, but one of mine has clearly got designs on the sycamore.

Winter-flowering jasmine can grow up and over a wall if you tie it back or be woven into a fence. Plant it anywhere. It'll get where you want it eventually.

Winter-flowering honeysuckle, by the way, isn't a climber. I made that mistake and had to give mine away to someone who had a spot for them. I kept a cutting, though, so now I have 3 of those. No good for privacy but I'm told they smell fantastic.


I knew they had it somewhere. Plants for a hedge or screen is a category at crocus. Be wary of bamboo. There are some posts about bamboo here along the lines of: "Argh how do I get rid of it? Help!" A holly hedge would be quite something ... eventually. Not a fast grower, holly. Nobody's pushing through it once it's grown, though. Osmanthus, Corylus and Viburnum all look good to me. You could put climbers in as well and let them climb the bushes / trees.

Help for a new gardener

Posted: 08/07/2015 at 23:11

Hard to be sure what'll work without knowing some more, like which way(s) your fence faces, what sort of climate you have and so on. If you've got a fence running east-west and you're on the south side of it, akebia's a pretty keen fence-grabber. Some honeysuckles are too, but they come with a warning not to let children eat the pretty berries whereas akebia fruit is edible. Either one will be happier on the south side. Akebia will grow both sides. Honeysuckle will be ugly bare sticks on the sunny side.

Neither will be at the top of the fence this year. You may need to get something else to cover it for a while.

If you do go with climbers, don't get carried away "letting them get established" or you'll have a tall, bare stem and then all the leaves at the top, and you'll have to plant more in front of it to hide that. Instead, snip the top off so it branches out and then keep twisting or tying it along the bottom of the fence so it produces lots of shoots from down there and climbs all the fence. Cutting every branch back to 2 pairs of leaves in spring seems brutal and counter-productive when you want it tall, but it'll make the thing branch out more and provide much denser coverage.

I'm not that fond of pyracantha. I planted one and tried to make it fill a trellis and it just refused. The main trunk weaves through the trellis, full of knots where I kept pruning it to make it do that branching thing, and then it has a ball of branched growth on top. If you really want thorns, pyracantha's good but berberis is better. Any burglar jumping the wall and landing in one of those won't getting out without help.

You might want to check the property deeds and make sure it's your fence before you start extending it upwards.

Another thing about honeysuckle: it can pull the fence down. That thing gets heavy. I have one very much like this thing here, although everybody sells it by a different name (Hall's Prolific, Cream Cascade, whatever) and it managed to pull a fence over despite the posts being 75x75x2400s standing in blocks of concrete! A little work with a spade, a chisel, a mallet, a saw and a spare 50x50x1800 stood it back up, but still ...

Another one called Late Dutch looks a lot like this one and is a bit better behaved, more inclined to grow both sides of the fence so I can enjoy the flowers too and more suitable for climbing wires than trellises because it doesn't twine aronud large objects, only thin ones. Still, the flowers are fantastic so it's worth a bit of mucking around pushing it into place.

Crocus have a pretty good plant list. Here's "large, non-poisonous climbers" and you can add more conditions to narrow it down further. I'd avoid the Fallopia baldschuanica if I were you. Let that get out of control and every gardener in town will hate you. Scary damn plant. Wisterias are lovely, but you don't just grow them up a bit of wire pinned to the side of the garden shed. They're more ... epic than that.

Don't be tempted by creeping ivy. It's like herpes: easy to get, impossible to

Anyone done any gardening today?

Posted: 06/07/2015 at 20:31

Pat, they have a chemical system for preventing self-pollination, so you need two unrelated plants within operating radius of the same beehive. I've got one white and two purples, and I guess they're the same species just with a mutation in a pigment gene and thus cross-fertile.

Camera Corner

Posted: 06/07/2015 at 16:42

Day lily in flower today. Thought I'd better take the picture while I had the chance. Hemerocallis indeed!

From left to right: macro mode, landscape mode and sunset mode.

Also a tiny spider, I think.

I also noticed this sunflower seedling:

 The cotyledons didn't separate, so the stem just tore through one.

Dying Rowan Tree

Posted: 05/07/2015 at 21:09

Well, that's not fire blight, Biology Geek. Fire blight really does make apple trees and rose bushes look like some b_____d has been round with a blowtorch. If your car hasn't been keyed, blame fire blight.

It's also not as spotty as I'd expect from leaf spot.

After a browse around, I see fire blight, canker, leaf spot and silverleaf as the main diseases of rowan, so go with leaf spot for a guess and take a clean saw to that branch. Start two thicknesses out from the trunk. Cut upwards from below the branch to 1/3 of its thickness, then move one branch thickness further out and cut downwards. The branch'll split from cut to cut and drop, and then you can saw off the stump nearer the trunk to leave a clean face without having all that weight leaning on it.

If you find that black staining where you cut, clean the saw blade and try again further down.

Burn the infected material.

How to take Rose Cuttings

Posted: 05/07/2015 at 20:52

Rather more elaborate approach, but it works for me:

After flowering, cut off dead flowers and any stem die-back.

Get a bucket of water.

Pick a piece of rose that's about 12" long. If you leave a couple of bud points behind you'll get new branches there next year. If you leave a half-inch stub, you get one new branch replacing the severed one. Cut off the selected piece and immediately put it in the water so the cut end is submerged.

Fill a large pot with compost. You can mix in those mycorrhizal fungal spores if you want. Poke a hole in it with a stick. Drop a little rooting hormone into the hole if you want.

Take all the leaves and thorns off the bottom part of your cutting, lift it out of the water and put it into the hole in the compost. Pack the compost down around it. Water it, to wash out air bubbles.

Now you've got something like what Bob describes above.

At this point, your cutting is losing water from its leaves but at least it's not sucking air bubbles up its stem in the process and it should have a good amont of water in its stem. It's got a problem: limited resources and limited ability to get more. It's living on what's stored in the stem, losing water from its leaves, using stored resources to produce roots with which to get more resources and relying on whatever leaves it has to give it energy. If it dries out, it dies. If the soil is too wet, it rots and dies. It can't take water up as fast as it's losing it. The race is on!

Here's where it gets a bit elaborate, trying to make the race easier. Put a little dish of water (sink a 1l supermarket soup pot into the compost, for example) in the pot. Stand short canes around the edge. Put a clear plastic bag over it (the RSPB Buggy Nibbles come in a sack ideal for this job) and tape it to the edges of the pot. The canes hold the bag off the cutting, so it won't rot from touching it. The bag keeps humidity in and the pot of water keeps humidity up, so the cutting's not losing water as fast. Being in a pot not the compost means that water isn't going to make the cuttings rot.

I second the warning not to expect 100% success ... but I've had 100% success with autumn cuttings that spent winter in these individual improvised greenhouses against the south end of the house here.

If you want to go OTT with the support, you can cut a tiny hole in the bag, put a drinking straw through it and blow warm, moist, CO2-laden air into the bag every morning. Just point the bottom of the straw at the water pot so you won't drool on the cutting.

Yeah, that ... is probably going too far. Honestly, I'd like to know whether it helps, but to test that we'd need a lot of windowsills and a lot of pots and a lot of compost and a few HUGE roses from which to take the cuttings (because it's no good testing it on cuttings from 50 different roses, is it?)

what is this shrub?

Posted: 05/07/2015 at 20:37

Looks exactly like our privet hedge here.

Now, which privet is a different question.

Anything with Ligustrum in the name is a privet. Good luck figuring that out. (Try changing "language=de" to "language=en" in the URL.)

Uh-oh ...

Posted: 05/07/2015 at 17:52

Oh, cool! A free St. John's Wort! The only one that mentions variegation on the RHS page is "Tricolor," which is up to 1m high and 1m wide in 5-10 years, so that'll be a nice bottom end of the flower bed.

Thanks again.

Uh-oh ...

Posted: 05/07/2015 at 12:33

... which looks like this:

I hope that doesn't show full-size in the forum when I press the "post" button. Not the best photograph ever taken. It's got yellow flowers starting to open at the top and a LOT of tiny black aphids. I'm sort of tempted to take off the infested heads and barbecue them, but I don't know what the plant is.

Discussions started by Charlie November

Uh-oh ...

This one doesn't look good. 
Replies: 9    Views: 430
Last Post: 05/07/2015 at 23:08

3-part hedge

This is what you get for neglecting it for 20 years! 
Replies: 8    Views: 382
Last Post: 04/04/2015 at 22:42

Most embarassing failure of the weekend

Replies: 10    Views: 767
Last Post: 09/04/2015 at 19:59

An octopus's garden in the shade

No octopodes, but lots of shade 
Replies: 8    Views: 606
Last Post: 01/05/2015 at 17:05

Holy glyphosate, Batman! What's that?

Huge thing with tiny white flowers and heart-shaped leaves 
Replies: 16    Views: 793
Last Post: 24/06/2014 at 16:52

Rose cuttings: timing

Replies: 8    Views: 707
Last Post: 22/03/2015 at 14:30

When is honey fungus not honey fungus?

At least I didn't spend anything. 
Replies: 18    Views: 2192
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: 497
Last Post: 10/09/2013 at 18:34


Not a lily. Not an apple tree. 
Replies: 6    Views: 676
Last Post: 10/09/2013 at 22:29


Planning? Measuring? Me? 
Replies: 26    Views: 1629
Last Post: 01/04/2015 at 19:53

Leaving tulips in the ground

Can they be left in if the drainage is good? 
Replies: 14    Views: 3797
Last Post: 13/05/2013 at 08:09
11 threads returned