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Latest posts by DianaW

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Lawn disaster

Posted: 05/04/2014 at 19:53

I planted a single pack of allium bulbs in a newly-landscaped garden some 15 years ago. Now they've spread so far that I'm going to have to dig them all up after they've flowered, to keep them out of the vegetable patch I've started nearby....

They're not the same as ramsons - the usual wild garlic beloved of foragers - and I'm not sure if this particular variety is edible.

Lawn disaster

Posted: 04/04/2014 at 12:20

Trees don't like being underplanted, so the usual advice is to leave a bare patch around them anyway. If your neighbour hates that look, then she could cover the ground with an attractive mulch, which will eventually feed the tree anyway if she uses compost or chipped bark; but using pebbles etc would look better than bare earth.

If she's intent on planting underneath the trees and is prepared to keep watering there, then she could try grouping large containers under them (ie too big and heavy for thieves to take) with appropriate planting in them for the shady conditions.

For cheap front garden hedging, I'd recommend buying appropriate bare-rooted roses - good prickly stuff to deter unwanted intruders. Alternatively, make friends with someone with shrubs that need regular cutting down hard and use their prunings as cutting material to grow your own hedge.

The tall coloured stems of dogwood (which needs to be cut right down in early spring every year) will root almost everywhere - encouraged or not - and will grow as lavishly as the parent plant in only a few years. Meantime, they'll darken slowly from their initial bright red or yellow colour.

Running before I can walk and need some help!!

Posted: 24/03/2014 at 11:10

The hanging basket idea is a good one but I found that the snails soon learned to creep up the supporting wall/tree/whatever and would then drop into the basket, so it's not foolproof.

It might be a bit early to have major slug problems, especially since it's been so dry since the weather (temporarily) warmed up, but snails are just as bad as slugs and the mild winter didn't kill them off. They will lurk inside the furled hosta leaves once they get into the pot.

Running before I can walk and need some help!!

Posted: 22/03/2014 at 11:47

Chimney soot is another usefully acidic additive to go with the eggshells, if you (or a neighbour) happen to have chimneys being swept.

You can mix it into soil to change its pH value, too.

Apparently dropped needles from conifers (eg Christmas trees) have a similar effect - and are particularly good at deterring creepy-crawlies from eating strawberries, if spread under the plants from flowering time onwards.

Talkback: Wildlife-friendly plants

Posted: 21/03/2014 at 14:07

You may just have justified the continued existence of a sizeable pyracantha, which is otherwise rather annoying me - and probably the neighbours whose garden it's overhanging, out of reach of my pruning tools. Thanks, Gary.

Running before I can walk and need some help!!

Posted: 21/03/2014 at 14:02

Tracey, do make sure that you've covered the hostas with a thick slug-repellent layer before snails and slugs start feasting on the new growth. I use lots of crushed dried egg-shell as a sort of mulch around the plant tips, which grow happily through the scratchy mulch.

If you try slug pellets, remember that those disintegrate when repeatedly wetted, so watering (or getting rain on) your plants would entail constantly replacing the pellets.

Ivy, holly and cyclamen - everywhere!!!

Posted: 07/12/2013 at 13:20

Going back to the original post, JoolieL - best advice for any new garden owner is to tamper with it as little as possible for the first year, until you find out what's there (including bulbs and perennials etc which may be invisible underground).

Take out and/or cut back only what you can identify for certain and know that you don't want.

If possible, get hold of a good gardening year book which will alert you to what you might expect to see and can do yourself as the seasons change - and read good gardening columns (like the Observer's one, available on the Guardian website) wherever you can find them.

Ivy, holly and cyclamen - everywhere!!!

Posted: 06/12/2013 at 14:11

That's news to me. I've never had that problem, lily - and I spend hours at a time working with the stuff, albeit always outdoors (where presumably any fumes would dissipate).

Ivy isn't good for composting because the tough stems don't break down easily - and they get stuck in a shredder, too. Best to put what you can't repurpose in the brown recycling bin to go into municipal composting.

Ivy, holly and cyclamen - everywhere!!!

Posted: 06/12/2013 at 12:43

Ivy is ideally pruned or pulled out at this time of year because it's ideal for making wreaths and other house decorations for the festive season. No wire frames etc required: just get twining.

I cut mine for a workshop at the local community garden, where everyone (including lots of families with kids and young adults with no gardens of their own) can come and learn to make their own wreath to take home and decorate as they choose. We've also wound it around rope to make a garland for banisters etc. There are lots of other ideas among the comments on Rachel de Thame's video on making a more traditional wreath on a wire and moss base.

Talkback: Making a Christmas wreath

Posted: 06/12/2013 at 12:34
Sorry to see Rachel using wire frames and sphagnum moss as a base for her wreath.
It's easy to make a basic wreath just from recently-cut ivy, wound around itself into a circle. Start with a piece at least 4 feet long, overlap the ends to make a ring about 1 foot in diameter and twine them around the ring. Then gently wind another length around it and so on, tucking the ends into the existing wreath and trying not to trap leaves under the twined stems. About 10 layers will make a stable ring which can be decorated with other greenery, ribbons and/or spare Christmas tree decorations.
The leaves will stay fresh all through the festive season but dry out eventually, so the leafless wreath can be reused in future years as a base for other evergreens.
1 to 10 of 27

Discussions started by DianaW

Talkback: Give borders an autumn boost

Don't forget to include ceratostigma for their wonderful combination of red autumn foliage and brilliant blue flowers. Good grown in pots, ... 
Replies: 16    Views: 367
Last Post: 17/10/2013 at 21:13

Weirdly withering plums

Replies: 2    Views: 329
Last Post: 28/06/2013 at 13:33
2 threads returned