Charlie November

Latest posts by Charlie November

planting trees in clay soil

Posted: 02/04/2014 at 17:31

First things that spring to mind are to dig the hole even deeper in the hope that the water will only pool "so deep" in the bottom, then fill it with gravel or quarry run-off to above the water level before planting on top of that ...

... to dig a dirty great ditch along the line of the holes and down to the stream and fill that with gravel from 18" down to 12" down then put the soil back in on top of that between the holes ...

... or to build *up* instead of digging *down*. Fill with rocky junk until the water's out of sight, then cover that with (optional hessian sack and) compost and plant on top of that, then build up a little wall around each tree so that you can get it properly buried above ground.

 This way the roots get to invade the water but the water doesn't get to invade the roots.

What you plant around the outside of that little wall to make it look prettier is up to you. I'd suggest something without thorns.

Rose cuttings: timing

Posted: 31/03/2014 at 17:26

 That one's been there since Valentine's Day. Looking good so far. Not sure the nearest branch is growing at all, but the other two are.

Talkback: Birds - make your own bird box

Posted: 29/03/2014 at 18:21
I worked out my own design based on RSPB specs, which called for an entrance hole 150mm above the floor and a 125 x 100mm floor, if I remember correctly. It uses a 1'x8' plank. It's mostly the same, but a bit taller. I gave it a 45-degree roof slope to shed Yorkshire rain, and attached the roof to the side walls using lengths of 25mm square wood screwed to both roof and wall from the inside. I used the same to attach front to sides, meaning there are no visible screws up to that point. The back wall and back edge of the roof are cut at 45 degrees so the roof fits on the wall top. The sides are screwed to the back wall directly. On the house, the ivy hides those screws.

The floor is slightly smaller than the internal area of the box for drainage (again, Yorkshire rain). It's got two rails under it that aren't square, and they're screwed at slight upward angles into the side walls. To clean it, you remove those screws and drop the floor out.

Having made it, I had a single piece about 5cm x 50cm left over. This I drilled at both ends, took up a ladder and used as a template to get the screw-holes in the right places on the wall. Having done that, I screwed it to the back of the bird-box. This way I didn't have to hold the weight of the whole thing while marking the wall.

A note on mounting: if you mount them on a wall, fine. If you mount them on a tree, the screw threads are holding onto the wood inside the tree, the heads of the screws are holding the box and the living outer layer of the tree trunk *between* those places is growing and producing more layers of wood. This will push the box outwards until it falls off, leaving the screws completely buried in the tree. One of mine fell ten feet onto clay and made a square hole in it. :)

Rose cuttings: timing

Posted: 28/03/2014 at 18:20

Yes, air-layering, and it's precisely because cuttings strike easily.

Sssssstrrrrike one!Sssssstrrrrike two!
Sssssstrrrrike three! They're out! Try something different.

Yes, they've been separated from the parent. With the honeysuckle, it was in a clear tub (left over from buying dried mealworms to tide the birds over until the live ones got delivered) of compost and I fairly quickly got a visible root network against the sides of the tub. With these roses, it's been the inner bags of breakfast cereal packets, taped up and wired to the trellis, and they're just not producing roots, even in a whole season. They grow, somehow, but sitting in the bags they're not producing any roots I can see. For all I know, I am taking cuttings.

Sounds like they'll be staying with me this year, eh?

Rose cuttings: timing

Posted: 26/03/2014 at 21:41

I've got layered cuttings from my "climbing" rose. One's been in a pot for weeks now, and is clearly growing despite a total lack of activity after being potted. The other one's only been in its pot a few days, and didn't seem to have any roots on it at all when I transferred it from bag to pot but still has healthy-looking leaves.

According to one guy's video, it only takes two weeks to get a good root system established in the bag ready for cutting. I gave them months and didn't see the mass of roots that the honeysuckle put out when I layered it. (Nice of the honeysuckle, really, to put fat, white roots against the sides of the clear plastic jar so that I could see it was ready to be moved!) Still, they seem to have survived.

Next step: giving them to someone else who wants to plant them next to an arch in the hope they'll grow up it. The big question is how long to leave them in their pots to develop roots before I hand them over. I'd like to be sure the new one's not going to shrivel up and die on her, and I reckon that means leaving it to get over the trauma of being cut off the parent plant and put out its own roots. The other one, I suppose, would go now. It's been in that pot a month and is obviously growing. If I wait too long, though, it gets to be a bit late in the year for planting rose bushes, doesn't it?

Should I give her the older one now and hang onto the new one until autumn, give her both now, hang onto both until autumn or next spring or what?


Posted: 23/03/2014 at 16:23

Planting the shortest ones along the front starts to look more sensible once the others join in.

 The really tall lilies along the back aren't showing up yet, but when they do they tower over everything else except the trees.

Just to the right of there, the white-flowered chocolate vine has apparently decided it's a good summer:

 It's covered in little white "silk lantern" flower buds. If they all turn into delicious-smelling flowers, the hyacinths will have some competition.



Posted: 07/03/2014 at 17:07

Brave display improved by addition of anemones. They're a little late to the party, but they're joining it.


The new batch of crocuses are more elaborate than the ones already there.

 I could upload that picture at 4288x3216 if anyone really wants it.



Posted: 27/02/2014 at 21:46

Unexpected job this week: prune the honeysuckle ... HARD! It managed to pull the trellis fence over about 5 degrees from vertical, so I had to take a LOT off it to dismantle parts of the fence so that I could put in a couple of props. The fence is now upright and looking rather smarter, but the honeysuckle has gone from nine feet of verdant growth to five feet of trunk with a couple of green shoots. Eh, it'll be back. It's a honeysuckle. I stabbed some of the branches into the back of the compost heap, so I may have some spares rather than just composting the lot.


Posted: 25/02/2014 at 17:13

Given the growing and flowering season around here (March to January for the honeysuckle, the year before I started this!) I planned it all to be a solid bank of greenery, tallest at the back and shortest at the front. If the crocuses are still up in May when the lilies at the back get taller than everything else, it'll work then. For now, that's a lot of crocuses in a narrow track, isn't it? I don't recall planting them that close together!


Maybe I should get another 900 crocus bulbs, cover the whole area in crocuses and add another couple of inches of compost, so next year it all looks like that.


Posted: 24/02/2014 at 15:29

Eeeee ...

 First image, bottom of the hedge on the right: crocuses I apparently dug up earlier and replanted! They cope with being upside-down after all.

Second picture: close-up of the crocuses and what I hope is chionodoxa. There's a lot of it, so I'll be upset if it's a buttercup in disguise.

The gladioli are looking a little sorry at the moment, probably due to the frost we had two weeks ago, which must have come as a bit of a shock to them. They've been out since October, so they must have thought it was July when *bam* ice.

Discussions started by Charlie November

Holy glyphosate, Batman! What's that?

Huge thing with tiny white flowers and heart-shaped leaves 
Replies: 16    Views: 558
Last Post: 24/06/2014 at 16:52

Rose cuttings: timing

Replies: 7    Views: 346
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: 1462
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: 309
Last Post: 10/09/2013 at 18:34


Not a lily. Not an apple tree. 
Replies: 6    Views: 475
Last Post: 10/09/2013 at 22:29


Planning? Measuring? Me? 
Replies: 17    Views: 864
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: 1602
Last Post: 13/05/2013 at 08:09
7 threads returned