Latest posts by chrissieB

Anyone have/ keep a gardening journal?

Posted: 28/06/2017 at 08:20

I keep a garden journal but more diary style than anything organised under headings - so I suppose my only repeated heading is the date. I re-started it when we moved in last year and simply jot down any ideas, thoughts, discoveries, what's flowering or happening in the garden, reminders to look things up etc..I used an old notebook I already had for my first one and now use it as an excuse to buy nice notebooks for when I need my next one (I love stationary so usually have several waiting ti be used)

i make an occasional note about the weather but nothing very structured - have thought I might be a bit more disciplined about this but hasnt happened yet..

I have a long to do list at the back of the journal - I find that easier as that way it is all (or mostly) in one place rather than lots of separate lists throughout the journal.

if I note down any jobs or notes to buy/move a plant etc amongst by jottings, I put an asterisk aganist them so it's easy to find them when I flick through.

I have an RHS diary but haven't used it as my journal as mine only has one page per week and that isn't enough for me. 

When I fill up one book, I simply start another - I don't worry about each book been a strict calendar year. It is great been able to look back when you did something or when a plant started and finished flowering last year. When I started my latest book recently - I read through the finished one to capture any jobs which weren't on the long list and ideas I wanted to make a note of or update on, in the new book so I wouldn't forget them. It was quite satisfying to read through and 'tick off' everything I had got done or scribble down a little update against a previous idea.

Dont make it too complicated or it might feel like anither job to do. Maybe make notes each day about what feels relevant and useful to you and then you might find that you naturally start to use certain headings etc. Or want to be able to look up certain information (like the weather).

lupin invasion

Posted: 27/06/2017 at 14:30

I hate to disrupt your pure English garden a bit more but I always thought that hollyhocks came back with the crusaders 🤔

Border along our long drive; What to do?

Posted: 27/06/2017 at 14:24

 having pulled my back last week wrestling with an old laurel tree you have my sympathy and good luck  🙂

Border along our long drive; What to do?

Posted: 27/06/2017 at 08:49

We haven't found a car .....yet, Nannybeach 

We have found lots of plant labels telling us what lovely treasures are no longer a form of Chinese torture designed especially for gardeners 🙄


Posted: 27/06/2017 at 08:28

I think you just have to develop the right mindset and accept that it's there and probably always be. We have horsetail in part of our garden too, it appeared after we had successfully cleared the area of another weed - alkanet. So we simply seem to have swapped one thug for another! 

I am working on the theory that if I keep pulling it up, it will lose its enthusiasm and gradually visit less often. Am not even thinking about trying it dig it up given how deep it's roots are said to grow- I have plenty of other weeds which are 'worth' digging out Such as the aforementioned alkanet.

i just have a regular horsetail blitz every so often and pull it up by hand. 

PS it contains lots of silica so is apparently good for cleaning pans - not sure how and haven't tried it. It also has lots of traditional herbal uses from poultices to shampoo. 

Border along our long drive; What to do?

Posted: 27/06/2017 at 07:59

I obviously can't see how bad the border is but the gardener probably suggested machinery as most people won't be willing or able  to pay for  the amount of time it takes to clear weeds and brambles properly by manual labour. Its also very time consuming to work around existing planting if a border is very infested with weeds. If brambles have taken over then it may be more cost effective to use machinery to clear them and the border completely so you have a blank canvas or accept it will take several applications of glyphosate over several months.

We are restoring a neglected garden and out of interest I have been logging the time we spend in the garden on various jobs. We have been steadily clearing a border similar in size to yours where alkanet, couch grass and brambles had taken over. Our log shows we have spent over 100 hours clearing it and digging it over. we are not in the flush of youth but reasonably fit and able so get a resizable amount done in each session - weve had to clear each section several times and dig down a couple of feet to clear roots and like yours have also had to work around tree roots.  we were shocked when I totted up the hours. We are now on what I call maintenance weeding but still a higher level that I would hope for in a cared-for garden, partly because we can't afford dense planting so have lots of bare soil and we have been clearing organically i.e. by hand so still fighting stubborn pockets od perennials and years worth of alkanet seeds in the soil.

I'm not saying all this to depress you, but do be realistic about how much time (or money if labour is bought in) it will take to clear/restore a border where weeds have started to get the upper hand espevially if you aren't happy with a more relaxed/shaggy look (maybe the country look you describe it as been currently).

As other members have suggested there are lots of plants that will survive in shade and many that will act as reasonable weed suppressants. Some of the tough do-ers used in municipal planting may also be a good choice such as cotoneaster, hypericum, ivy (as ground cover).

How to deadhead Astrantia?

Posted: 26/06/2017 at 22:05

I usually leave mine as the flowers fade gradually and the seedheads are quite attractive.

Border plants in desert like conditions

Posted: 26/06/2017 at 08:38



Posted: 26/06/2017 at 08:37

You have ny sympathy Joususa, I have tried nasturtiums several times as they are supposed to be so easy but not for me I never seem to have much success. I am sure that there are some plants I'm just not meant to grow - I always struggle with sweet corn too.......

I tried again with both this year - 1 nasturtium out of 8 seeds germinated and none of the sweet corn. Everything else has, so not sure what the issue is. The one nasturtium is small but so far strong so am hoping for at least a few flowers.....

Exhausted soil

Posted: 26/06/2017 at 08:27

Adding any organic matter will help improve sandy soil - so probably worth setting up compost bins, if not already, and composting all your kitchen and garden waste.

we have gardened very successfully on sandy, free draining soil. It's just a matter of knowing which plants are better suited. Sandy soil isnt as good at retaining nutrients so always better to feed and mulch in spring before planting than (just) in Autumn. It's  also better to keep it covered during the winter months so that any goodness is less likely to be washed away, so might be worth using green manures over the winter months to dig in during spring, these will also help up the organic matter.

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