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Charlie November

Latest posts by Charlie November

unusual garden, unusual problem to make safe - any ideas?

Posted: 14/08/2013 at 20:36

I'd go with something that'll look good "for now" and after the wall disappears behind your planted borders.

For most of it, a solidly built trellis and climbers ought to do. There's something to be said for an access path between that and the flower beds, so that you can get at it to keep them under control without having to set up a stepladder in the shrubs.

One thing about a trellis: it kind of looks like a climbing frame, but will fall apart under a person's weight. My trellis-as-security here has lots of brambles growing through it, making it rather unappealing as a climbing frame. The roses are getting thornier year by year, too.

For a corner with a table and chairs, a wind-reducing fence and an overhead trellis may work, although that kind of requires a front leg. You could put miniature trellis up the front leg and plant around it, too, to pretty it up. Something that'll dangle down nicely, like wisteria flowers or bunches of grapes, would be a nice feature for overhead.

Putting rails up and installing a retractable roof is an option, but may be considered extravagant. Also, the climbers would get into the rails.

What's the star in your garden right now

Posted: 13/08/2013 at 14:58

Definitely the lilies. I've no pictures because my new camera died when I tried to recharge it, but the white lilies. I think they're white Casa Blanca with a single red Black Beauty and a few pale pink ... er ... ones among them, but it's definitely the white ones that are shining this week. They smell fantastic, too.


Lily beetles? Yeah, found them, killed dozens, killed dozens of larvae, started finding and killing adults again. I seem to be winning.


On the wishlist but not in the flowerbed: an 8'2" Hotline lily. I suspect they'd get blown down as soon as they peeped over the fence, really.

Bird feeders causing weeds?

Posted: 12/08/2013 at 16:39

I've tried the RSPB's anti-squirrel cages on my feeders. (They work, but a brown rat managed to get into one. .177 solved that problem.) They have conical bases that can be attached either way up, so you can shed the spillage onto the ground or retain it. These nominally have drainage holes, but they're inadequate, as the damp spillage clogs them. I use them as catcher dishes under the peanut feeders (mostly full of treat pellets because nobody eats peanuts) but have them the other way up under the seed mix, so it ends up on the ground. It lands in a layer of pine needles from the trees around the feeder pole (positioned for the birds' benefit, not for viewing) and doesn't grow, so no worries there. Where I've put food on stumps for the blackbirds, I do get growth, but it's no big deal in the hedge.

One thing I've found growing where I feed blackbirds that I definitely didn't put out for them: elder trees. Every year, when the berries ripen, the blackbirds feast on berries then come for food in my garden and paint the area around their food stumps and rocks purple. Then there are elder seedlings. If anybody needs a dozen of them, let me know. 

help: bindweed is coming over from neighbour!

Posted: 12/08/2013 at 16:25

I've got Roundup Tree Stump & Root Killer here, £16 for 250ml ( 17.8p/g ) from Homebase, 360 g/l glyphosate acid.

It says 15ml in 1 litre in a sprayer or 15ml in 5 litres in a watering can for 30m^2 of bindweed, dandelions, docks, ground elder and thistles ( 5.4g/l ) ( 3.2p/m^2 ) ...

... or 20ml in 1 litre in a sprayer or 20ml in 5 litres in a watering can for 30m^2 of brambles, nettles, horsetail, bracken, or beech, sycamore, oak, hazel, willow or ash saplings ( 7.2g/l ) ( 4.27p/m^2 ).

I had some other brand before, which was £18 for a litre of 90g/l ( 20p/g ) and said 45ml per litre in a sprayer ( 4.05g/l ) ( 2.7p/m^2 ).

By the looks of it, you want 4 to 7 grams per litre for spraying, 0.8 to 1.4 grams per litre for the Watering Can Of Doom.


Posted: 11/08/2013 at 19:02

Ooh, yeah, lavender. Then you could make your own teabags to sell to my friend because I cannot find the Twinings Earl Grey With Lavender she loves.


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.

Discussions started by Charlie November

Rose cuttings: timing

Replies: 7    Views: 209
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: 1046
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: 220
Last Post: 10/09/2013 at 18:34


Not a lily. Not an apple tree. 
Replies: 6    Views: 383
Last Post: 10/09/2013 at 22:29


Planning? Measuring? Me? 
Replies: 16    Views: 676
Last Post: 12/04/2014 at 11:19

Leaving tulips in the ground

Can they be left in if the drainage is good? 
Replies: 14    Views: 803
Last Post: 13/05/2013 at 08:09
6 threads returned