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Dinah


Latest posts by Dinah

RABBITS

Posted: 22/01/2015 at 19:50

I have a list typed out somewhere in my files, I'll look it out, it had some practical advise  for someone who kept horses too, she didn't want them poisoned, but the same advise would do if you have children, because plants that rabbits avoid are often poisonous to them and other creatures. I'll send it if I can find it.

How to make a free hedge - for real!

Posted: 16/01/2015 at 20:09

Excellent stuff Nutcutlet. Wildlife friendly as well!

How to make a free hedge - for real!

Posted: 16/01/2015 at 18:14

You can make a free hedge out of the hedge clippings of certain shrubs. Cornus Alba for instance.

At this time of year, some local councils have Grounds Maintenance departments organise the first hedge/shrub pruning of the season. Quite a few shrubs can be pruned at this time, and they like to get things tidy ready for the spring rush, while they can't cut the grass. Ask when they are cutting the hedges, or if you live near a park, hospital or traffic island, check regularly.

When they do the trim, go along and pick up the sticks. Try to get ones over a foot long, and choose ones that look undamaged. The ideal width at the base is about that of a pencil.Take them home, trim them to approximately the same length, and soak them for an hour or two in case they have been drying on the ground for a while.

While they are soaking, dig a trench somewhere were the soil is not waterlogged, add sand if drainage is poor, bury them from a third to a half of the length of the twig, and leave in the ground until next spring. If you don't have room for a trench, fill a bucket with lots of holes made in it, or an equivalent sized pot with very sandy soil, and put them around the edge of the pot about eight to a bucket. Make sure drainage is good as rot is your enemy. Those that don't sprout leaves, or start to go black at the base should be pulled up and discarded.

The ones I have had good success rates with so far are: Cornus of all kinds, Willows of all kinds, Philadelphus, Roses, Alder, Fuchsia Magellanica. There are many more but I am getting forgetful, perhaps others can suggest more that are available at this time of year?

 

Privacy Issue

Posted: 16/01/2015 at 00:07

Trade cards?? I see that merchants and traders are becoming more cunning these days! You will be telling me next that they have some sort of governmental registry!! I shall return to taking fortuitous cuttings and collecting seeds from public parks and verges.

Privacy Issue

Posted: 15/01/2015 at 20:41

Re not posting the web addresses Blairs, Mmm, I guess I don't like making moderators cross, and I don't like forums that purport to be advisory and unbiased, but are actually just interactive advertisements. Its not that I don't like exposing people who don't actually need a product to lovely glossy pictures of amazing bargains... that would be mean, and I would be delighted to forward the same bargains to you privately,   but you've probably seen them already, because they are from big selling companies, not wonderful little ones that give trade prices that only horticultural experts know about. If I did know any trade secrets like this, I'm afraid I would probably tell everyone about them, and then the whole capitalist system would crumble before our eyes...

Privacy Issue

Posted: 15/01/2015 at 17:06

I'm just finding out from the Moderator if it is OK for me to post some web addresses of companies currently having big sales on their shrubs. If it isn't I have asked him/her to tell me how to mail you privately. Hope to send you some useful stuff shortly. Dinah.

Privacy Issue

Posted: 14/01/2015 at 19:43

If it turns out you can't have a high enough hedge or fence, go to the part of the garden that you most need privacy in, and look in the direction of where the view is most intrusive. Then walk along an imagined path toward the intrusive view, marking or remember spots where shrubs and trees could be placed, accounting for obstacles and features already present. Make a quick sketch of where shrubs could go. Then have a look through a gardening book or catalogue, or online at the hight and spread of shrubs and trees that are within your budget. Mark these on your sketch with hight and spread noted beside them. The nearest shrubs to your private area should be the shortest, and then ascend in hight as you get closer to the edge of your property. Lastly, go back to the area that you want to be most private with your sketch handy, and check if your plan will roughly fill in any gaps in the imagined general view. Make sure you know the widths of each shrub, as you want them to fill space without wasting any space.

It really doesn’t matter what shrubs you use as long as they increase in hight toward the back, so you can use stuff that you find online in the sales, sort out bits here and there take cutting etc. while you build up your collection. When you have chosen where to put your shrubs plan the pathways and areas for sitting to weave around them. This way you get maximum flexibility without having to worry about getting all your plants in one go, and you get to choose plants as you spot them in the sales, or even grow your own from seed. You don't have to worry about the hight of your hedge or fence because you are not planting one, you only have specimen trees and shrubs. You will find that you have to put in far fewer shrubs than you might expect in order to fill in the imagined horizon of your garden.

If you have a garden reasonably sheltered from strong winds you might put in  Paulonia (Empress or Sapphire Dragon tree) and Laburnum (Golden chain tree) right at the back as they both grow very quickly, and their flowers are big and conspicuous, so the trees will draw attention to themselves rather than anything that lies beyond them.

In summery, you want shrubs of increasing hight as they receed, placed so that each fills a gap in the overall view. You then plan your paths and seating areas arround what you have space for and can get hold of cheaply.
I hope this all makes sense, it is hard to describe without drawing out a plan, but I do know it works.

CATS

Posted: 21/12/2014 at 20:25

No, no Gemma, you're not answering everyone, you just do bigger posts than some, which shows you really think about things and have a lot to say. There were two more items I would add to your list of things wiping out wildlife. Roads, (the "oops, well I couldn't break safely for that one - squash factor) and Climate Change. Climate change is almost certainly due to us, and it looks like nature is going to be shovelled up and tossed onto the compost heap along with everyone else in many areas quite soon. My money is on a lot of things adapting, but a lot of things being wiped out. All the animals are vulnerable - many, many of the plants. We as a species have been good at adapting, but we in the west are also used to very cushy environments to live in, which are all tied into our big economic project, so we are probably not going to adapt that quickly. This is a very personal thing to admit, but I have extended my belief in neutering cats to humans lately. I never thought that I would think that way, let alone say it; but I've told my son and daughter-in-law how I feel, and it turns out they fully agree - no grandchildren. Maybe the prospects will look better some years down the line, one can only hope.

CATS

Posted: 21/12/2014 at 02:53

No, I don't think I'm getting you wrong really, it's just a matter of fields within fields. I'm not up for controlling rodents in the whole countryside, obviously - I love mice and rats, and save them whenever I can from the cats, but more importantly they are an important part of the food chain. I find it very handy to have the house and garden free of them, what with the Leptospirosis and all that,  and believe me, the house and garden are free of them! but I don't see mice and rats as a sinister plague about to "steal the food from the cook's own ladles" so to speak. Not that I think you were implying that I thought that at all! but I like to keep things realistic.

I admit it, you have me there with the nesting, while others are feverishly "attracting wildlife to their gardens" I really don't think I'd like to encourage wild birds to nest anywhere near my house - it seems just silly out here in the wilds. They are far better nesting in the Bern or in the woods, or the hedgerow where the cats don't go! I do have quite a big garden with food put out every day at the feeding station, and birds adorn the nearby trees, but they really don't seem to be interested in nesting in the shrubs - or at least, I very much hope not! Any bird that did so would certainly be near the end of it's genetic line - the numbers just don't add up, and I can only hope they are frightened away by the rich predatory presence because of instinct!

Odd things that are not so obvious in towns play into the picture here though too. People don't often take account of whether they live on the Adret or Ubac side of a valley in towns. In more rugged parts of the country, those who's hillsides face south get lots of rabbits, birds etc. Those who live on the Ubac don't get rabbits anywhere near so much, and a lot fewer birds nesting - it's too cold and windy compared to the other side of the valley. Humans don't take much notice of such things (with the possible exception of gardeners) nor do mice and rats who prefer to live near human habitations and food stocks, livestock are fenced here, and pets, well their houses are heated and the lazy things spend most of there time snoozing, doing a spot of ratting, but generally waiting to be fed out of the desperately unethical, industrially produced meat-industry-surplus filled cans.

Yes I agree with your implication that the problem is, by and large, innovative humans and there many utterly wastefully made environments, than a problem with cats doing there catty thing. When we mess things up we get knock on effects. I've noticed the difference between rabbits, and too many rabbits, and how it affects the vegetation on the other side of the valley. I've also noticed the fox factor (and others have brought it to my notice) keeping the rabbit population lower than critical mass - a good year for rabbits means more foxes, but alas, more foxes take more lambs and "they are worth money you know!" And the critical mass thing is very scientific, the relatively recent introduction here of rabbit plague as an unstoppable alternative to predatory control works like this: when the concentration goes above a certain number of rabbits per acre, a new epidemic erupts, and you see them all dyeing in misery by the side of the road. The eagles and buzzards have a great time until the rabbits run out, or a shepherd starts sneaking out a few poison carcasses, in case the now more apparent buzzards and eagles take the lambs. It's all so much more complicated where we people are involved.

In the towns it's even more messed up, but I quietly hope that the ability of nature to eventually adapt will prevail "look at urban foxes and badgers" I think - "they are now making a good living in the town thanks to unfinished bags of chips". I suppose you could compare them to the domestic cat in that regard? And I think of the rise in Bee populations where urban gardens provide a variety of flowers at different times of the year - pat on the head time I hope, but it's a small hope.

The awful thing is that there is always a new threat looming on the horizon. We have a terribly cosseted and relatively trivial culture here, in other places people's priorities are the eradication of drought, storms, floods and major epidemics. Someone was asking me recently what measures were in place to stop rabies coming through the Channel Tunnel carried by rats. I have no idea. I just hope and hope like everyone else that it won't happen, because I am not in a position to stop it. Sometimes I even fall into thinking "at least it won't happen to us" same as the droughts, storms and flooding. It's still hard to keep a clear head to focus upon these things, we are still learning, but it doesn’t hurt to be truthful about your feelings now and then. So thanks for the chance to do so folks.

CATS

Posted: 20/12/2014 at 00:54

Mmm, they are all interesting points. I would very much like to see people neutering and spaying their cats. I have never actually gone out to get a cat. Mine turn up at the house starving after people from the town come and dump them, expecting them to be able to survive in the wild. The house I live in used to be rented by nuns, who didn't neuter the cats, and when they moved away most of them starved to death. Nasty situation.

They really do go after the rodents. We had one bird death last year (food spilt on the way to the 7 foot high, fortified bird table). All my cats are very well fed, so they stack the rodent corpses on the mat, that helps me a lot in checking if the bird fortifications are doing there job. That is another thing that I get cross about. Silly fools who have cats and then have a titchy, icky, bitty little bird table with no fortifications. But that is all country stuff, not stuff that would make much sense in the town as every one should have fortified bird tables - to expensive for most people to bother with I suppose.

Cats and cars don't mix either, so the getting squashed factor would probably keep the population in check in towns if neutering was more popular. The Cats Protection League have a neutering/spaying scheme for people on benefits, such great people! Interestingly, a study was done in Scotland to see what was the best way of controlling the numbers of domestic and feral cats. There reason for doing it was that the Scottish Wild Cat (the real McCoy) was about to become extinct because of interbreeding with domestic cats. They found that if you cull the domesticated cats in an area, it doesn’t just upset people, the cats from outside the areas moved into the territory, and being owner-less they’re not neutered and quickly multiplied. I think they tried it out in Australia, where cats are not at all native. So, neutering was the answer! Hurray for the Cats Protection League! you guys are the mustard!

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