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Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie

Evergreen Flowering climber

Posted: 10/06/2013 at 11:47

We have a jasmine like that but it's very slow-growing. Ours is also plagued by aphids and sooty mould, but you might be luckier in that respect.

Hydrangea Seamanii is a vigorous climbing variety of hydreangea that seems to do well in sun. It's evergreen, too.

Pyrocanthus can look good trained against a wall, especially when the berries turn red or orange.


Twisted willow

Posted: 10/06/2013 at 11:40

I think it'd be happy with some shade. Willows are very thirsty plants, so I wouldn't be surprised if after a while it fails to thrive in a pot, but it's worth a try.

Bees or wasps?

Posted: 09/06/2013 at 16:19

Yes, they look like bees to me. Wasps are bolder-coloured and not at all furry.

Come to think of it, there are very few wasps around at the moment anyway. I saw a few queens looking to nest a couple of months ago, but nothing since then. Bees are what you'd expect to find in the garden now. Wasps, if they do appear, are more friend than foe at this stage in the year, as they feed on aphids now, whereas later on they seek out fruit and that's when they become a nuisance.

Where is the buzz of busy bees?

Posted: 02/06/2013 at 20:15

I doubt it. More likely the plastic is a warmer surface that is attractive to a sickly bee. If you see a bee that seems ill, it may be one that's starving or suffering from a virus such as the one transmitted by varroa mite. And bear in mind that most bees only live a few weeks. Dying is a regular occurence and doesn't necessarily mean there's anything wrong - well, there is for that individual bee, but not for bees in general.

Where is the buzz of busy bees?

Posted: 02/06/2013 at 08:51

I don't think domestic gardeners and allotment holders should be blaming themselves too much for the lack of bees. My husband, a beekeeper, is pretty convinced that it's a combination of cold and starvation that has killed so many colonies this last winter. For what it's worth, he was very attentive to his bees and his colonies all survived, although some are not strong.

As regards spraying and pesticides, the amounts used by gardeners are tiny compared with what's sprayed on the fields and verges etc. We're pretty sure that the weather is the biggest factor here - it's been such a cold, wet year with a late spring and consequent lack of forage when the bees did venture out.

Dwarf French beans

Posted: 01/06/2013 at 09:42

BBQ skewers sound a bit dangerous - mind your eyes when you're bending over to pick beans!  In most gardens you can find twiggy supports from dead shrubs etc that will do the job. But even if you don't support them, they'll probably be fine.

instead of bedding

Posted: 30/05/2013 at 12:23

A few that come to mind: Lithodora, a lovely deep blue-flowered creeping plant. Coreopsis, glorious yello flowers, although they tend to die after a few years. Saxifrages, such as "London Pride". Dianthus. Hellebores. Aquilegia. Thift (good for thin, stony soil). Pulmonaria (good for damper, shadier places). Most of these will spread or self-seed so you only need a small bit to start you off - I agree with Nutcutlet above, look out for summer fetes etc with plant stall where you can pick these things up cheaply, or beg some bits from other people's gardens.

Where is the buzz of busy bees?

Posted: 29/05/2013 at 17:14

I think it's the weather. We do have bees in the garden but not as many as usual. Honeybees don't like to fly when it's too cold, or when it's windy. Bumble bees are less fussy (maybe their furry coats are warmer!)

We had heavy blossom on our apple trees but it won't surprise me if the crop yield is low, because of lack of pollination.

Brassica collars

Posted: 27/05/2013 at 09:05

I think Monty Don was using cardboard but it eventually goes soggy and disintegrates. Anything firm enough to hold its shape but not too hard to cut will do - vinyl offcuts, roofing felt, carpet, underlay, etc.

Ivy advice?

Posted: 27/05/2013 at 09:01

Haven't tried this, but I believe a blob of clear sealant (like you use for sealing bathroom units etc) will hold the shoot to the surface. But as others say, you'd only need to do this at first, to get the ivy to understand where you want it to go (rather than horizontally across your garden, etc, which it will also want to do).

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