Gary Hobson

Latest posts by Gary Hobson

Talkback: Creeping buttercup

Posted: 04/05/2012 at 09:17
obelixx wrote (see)

... Given half a chance, my borders are full of better flowers ...

'Better' is an interesting concept.

In the wild you don't find buttercups absolutely everywhere; just in suitable locations.

Nature always grows the right plant in the right place (or you could say that every plant has evolved to occupy one particular ecological niche).

So, if a garden is full of buttercups, that means that nature has decided that buttercups are the 'best' plant to grow there.

We might think that some plants are prettier, or appeal to our peculiar tastes or other ideas; but those are just our opinions.

I'm still not putting up with buttercups round my roses.

Talkback: Cats in the garden

Posted: 04/05/2012 at 06:30

My next door neighbour has a cat, which treats my garden as its own.

I have a bird table, and a ground feeding area for birds. But the cat shows little interest in either of those. In my experience, what cats really prefer to hunt is mice.

If they have a choice, cats will always prefer mice.

I have some long grass and the cat will spend half-an-hour at a time intently gazing at any spot where the cat can hear movement in the grass.

This is my neighbour's cat, returning home carrying the afternoon's spoils in its mouth:

I once saw my neighbour's cat catch a mole. The cat could hear the mole working beneath the ground, but couldn't get at it. Then, eventually, when the mole surfaced, the cat was able to pounce.

I've also provided a patch of catmint (cats love catmint) as a reward for work well done:

Shed Theft

Posted: 03/05/2012 at 05:44

This is the second thread we've seen about shed vandalism in the past few days. The previous thread is here: Shed Vandalism

It seems that this is a common problem. It effects not only sheds on allotments, but private gardens too. Everyone who has a garden is vulnerable.

Personally, I've found that a garden alarm is an effective way of scaring off unwanted night-time visitors. Alarms are not cheap (a couple of hundred pounds). But if the cost was shared by a collective, then something like that might be worth considering.

If it's a council-run site maybe the council would pay something towards the cost; after all, the council is responsible, so they ought to pay. You pay your council tax to provide a police force, precisely to protect you from crime.

New Zealand Flax Flower

Posted: 02/05/2012 at 08:21

Mine (in the photos above) is the standard green-leaved variety, which has dark-red blooms.

I think standard green-leaved form also tends to be a bit more vigourous than the variegated varieties. It's also more hardy, and survives cold Winters better. That said, some people find it a bit too vigourous to fit nicely with other plants. It's not invasive; just big.

Potting shed burglary

Posted: 01/05/2012 at 10:54
Lucy3 wrote (see)

... You've won yourself a gardening security set worth £50! ...

I wonder what a £50 Garden Security Set actually comprises.

Homebase offer something called a Garden Security Set, for £26. As far as I can make out, that's a piece of strong wire/cable and a padlock.

Several of my neighbours have had sheds ransacked, mainly by people looking for, and taking, power tools, and bikes.

I've had nighttime intruders in my own garden on 3 occasions during the past few years. I have some garden alarms. They use infra-red detectors. They are not cheap, but they are effective. In my experience, once a burglar knows they have been detected, they're off. I have not had anything stolen. So far. Touch wood.

You may think a proper alarm is expensive. But in my opinion, they are well worth it, for the peace of mind. I wouldn't be without one.

New Zealand Flax Flower

Posted: 30/04/2012 at 15:47

It could be.

The stems and flowers of Phormium Tenax are quite extraordinary. The flowers are clustered along long thick stems, about 6 to 10 feet up in the air.

The flowers are also especially attractive to bees. It's not unusual to find half-a-dozen bees on each stem.

These photos were taken in my own garden on 17 July:

I can't see any flower spikes forming on mine this year. It would seem as though the plant is having a rest, after making such a splendid effort.

Help - pond is leaking!

Posted: 30/04/2012 at 06:04

The answer depends in part on the maturity of the pond.

If it's a mature pond, the chances are that there will be established plants all around the perimeter (in the water). Plants such as water iris form dense mats. In such circumstances it is quite impossible to see the liner.

If the pond is 1.5m in depth, and you've lost 30cm, then there is still well over a metre of water in the pond. I guess that the creatures are all perfectly happy with that.

Encouraging wildlife into your garden is partly about having a relaxed attitude, and letting nature take its course. It's not about fretting and thinking that things must be 'put right'.

If you can see the liner, and can fix the leak, then do so. But personally, I'd be inclined to live with it.

What to do!!

Posted: 29/04/2012 at 16:31
yvonne parsons2 wrote (see)

... after spending 23 years in military accomodation ...

Gardening is quite unlike life in the military.

In your garden you can do whatever you like, and no-one will tell you off.

A garden is also a matter of personal choice. Some people do like tidy gardens, with everything under control. Others prefer a style that is wild and free (a cottage garden).

So your own personality comes into it - reflecting the type of person you are, or would like to be.

Plastic Plant pots - recycled

Posted: 29/04/2012 at 15:32

You would expect horticulturalists to have some basic awareness of environmental issues.  Horticulture seems to be lagging behind every other industry.

For an industry to sell its products (plants) in packaging that cannot readily be recyled is outrageous in these times.

Any advice on hand-push lawnmowers?

Posted: 29/04/2012 at 07:23
Cetti wrote (see)

..I thought about an old-fashioned hand-push one as I have always enjoyed using my dad's...

Today's push mowers are not actually like the 'old-fashioned' mowers. Today's push mowers are light-weight and are much easier to push.

I would not consider using anything but a push mower. They are easier to use than petrol or electric mowers. There is no fuss, no mess, and no running cost.

The Qualcast Panthers are still in production. The 30 and 38 model numbers refer to the blade width in cms. The 38cm one is better for people who have a medium to large size lawn.

The very same mower is marketed under a number of other brand names too. The Bosch Panther (mentioned in message 2) is exactly the same mower. The Qualcast and Bosch Panthers are made at the same factory in China.

Also worth mentioning is the Webb 12" push mower. This is a new model, introduced in March this year. It's a bit more expensive than the Panthers. The Webb has a rear roller (message 4) to give stripes, and it has a more substantial grass box.

There is also a high-tech push mower made by Brill. The Brill RazorCut is made in Germany and is 'Vorsprung Durch Technik' (Progress Through Technology). This is the future of grass-cutting. The Brill is not available at garden centres but is available through Amazon. The Brill is considerably more expensive than the others, but worth it, for those who like to stay a few steps ahead of Jeremy Clarkson.

But if you just want the grass cut, then you can't do better than a Qualcast (or Bosch) Panther.

Discussions started by Gary Hobson

New BBC Gardening Show looking for Kitchen Gardeners

Replies: 11    Views: 3055
Last Post: 31/03/2014 at 19:57

Hampton Court Family Garden Competition

You are invited to design a family garden which will be built this year at Hampton Court 
Replies: 8    Views: 1831
Last Post: 10/02/2013 at 15:01
2 threads returned