London (change)
Today 24°C / 17°C
Tomorrow 23°C / 16°C

Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie

Gardening book

Posted: 30/04/2012 at 17:05

I don't think you'll find one book that will do it all in sufficient detail. I have the RHS Encyclopedia as well as their Dictionary of Plants and Flowers, which is my favourite book for ornamental plants, But for the edibles I turn most often to the Hessayon "Vegetables and Herb Expert" and "Fruit Expert", which are cheap, reliable and easy to use. I even have a spare copy of the fruit and veg one, which I keep in the shed.  I also like the Readers' Digest "Food From Your Garden" which includes sections on preparing and preserving fruit and veg. 

Second-hand books are fine but make sure they're relatively modern. Old books won't include the best new plants, varieties and materials, and may recommend the use of chemicals that are now banned and unavailable.

Scented flowers

Posted: 20/04/2012 at 17:41

Wallflowers. Some scented flowers make me wheeze (e.g. the hyacinth family, and viburnum) but I love the scent of wallflowers. Mine have been in bloom since January, and the bees love them too.  Oh, and I'm looking forward to the clove-scented pinks (dianthus) later in the spring.

Leaning Tree

Posted: 20/04/2012 at 17:33

I'm glad this has come up, as we have a Kilmarnock (weeping) Willow with the same problem. It's been fine for several years but this year it's leaning right over and seems a bit unstable. I'll save the tips given here (thanks guys!) and tackle it in the autumn if it survives that long.

Bird feeders causing weeds?

Posted: 20/04/2012 at 17:28

Has anyone else had this problem with a niger (nyjer) feeder? I've got one of these which attracts the occasional goldfinch, and is also popular with greenfinches. But somehow a lot of the seed ends up on the ground beneath the feeder - I've just cleared up a thick layer of the stuff.  They don't eat it once it's landed, and it doesn't seem to grow either, but I hate the waste as this seed is not cheap. I really don't know how they manage to drop so much. I have seen feeders that incorporate a tray underneath - presumably this would have to have drainage holes to avoid a soggy mess. But it seems a shame to abandon the feeder I've got which is quite a well-made and solid one. Any ideas as to why this happens and what I can do about it?

is it safe to put seedlings into window boxes yet?

Posted: 20/04/2012 at 10:02

Things like marigolds, nasturtiums and sweet peas are quite tough and should be OK out of doors if they're hardened off over a few days. Other things like fuchsias are more tender. I think you could put quite a bit out in window boxes now - if you have plenty of seedlings, you can keep some spares indoors as a back-up. If there's a frost on the way, have some fleece or bubble wrap ready to throw over them at nights until this cold weather is over.


Posted: 20/04/2012 at 09:57

I'll tell you want not to do, at least with a shallow pot or trough. I once planted crocuses and something other bulbs in a trough, the base of which was lined with broken polystyrene instead of stones for drainage. When the pot flooded in heavy rain, the polystyrene floated to the top, and the bulbs were left swimming in a sort of compost-and-polystyrene soup. It was quite a job to sieve it and sort it all out, and some of the bulbs never recovered after re-planting.

How cold is too cold for seedlings?

Posted: 19/04/2012 at 17:41

Some seedlings are tougher than others. I've put my sweet peas out in the garden now and they've survived temperatures of close to zero, maybe even the odd ground frost. My petunias seem OK out of doors now too but the fuchsias don't seem to like the cold and I'm keeping them under cover - I lost some fuchsias to frost at about this time a couple of years ago. .And the New Guinea Busy Lizzies that I bought as plug plants are not happy at all  - well, to be brutally honest, most of them are dead, so I'm resigned to keeping the two survivors in the house for several weeks more.  I think thyme should be pretty tough, but cosmos and stocks might be a bit more delicate. There's still not much sign of guaranteed mild temperatures.

Border plant

Posted: 19/04/2012 at 12:31

You need to decide whether you want evergreens, or whether you don't mind it being a bit bare in winter. Beech is a bit of an exception because although they're deciduous when trees, beech hedges tend to keep their dead leaves on through the winter. Pittisporum is evergreen and looks quite attractive - I think the green types are faster growing than the coloured/variegated ones, but you could mix them for a good show. And yes, photinia Red Robin can look great, but they need a bit of attention and can be prone to fungus infections. Weigelas are pretty and undemanding, especially if you get some with variegated foliage, but they're bare in winter and don't get very tall (up to about person-height). Buddleias will grow up quickly but again, they're bare in winter and can do with cutting back. Or how about holllies? You could plant a selection including some with variegated leaves. Birds will love them, and they grow quite fast. We have one with berries on it at the moment - I can't decide whether they're early or late.

What can I use as green manure?

Posted: 19/04/2012 at 12:21

Doesn't landcress have long, fleshy tap roots? I think they might take a long time to rot down. Mine is going to seed now but I think it's bound for the compost heap.

Feathers in Compost?

Posted: 19/04/2012 at 12:18

'Course not, Sandra, no need to lug bottles. All you have to do is climb up on top of the heap and allow it to benefit from your nitrogenous waste. We'll all look the other way!

Discussions started by Green Magpie

Tomato thriving on neglect!

Replies: 5    Views: 230
Last Post: 20/06/2014 at 10:54

Secateurs open?

Replies: 5    Views: 303
Last Post: 06/05/2014 at 21:27

Lobelia for wedding at end of May

Replies: 6    Views: 276
Last Post: 04/06/2014 at 22:39


Replies: 8    Views: 576
Last Post: 03/02/2014 at 07:50

Runners on new strawberry plants

Replies: 6    Views: 501
Last Post: 29/09/2013 at 08:39

Nettles for butterflies

Replies: 10    Views: 970
Last Post: 22/07/2013 at 14:25

What not to grow

Replies: 23    Views: 1044
Last Post: 28/07/2014 at 10:46

Photinia Red Robin pruning?

Replies: 25    Views: 13013
Last Post: 06/06/2014 at 22:33

Searching the site?

Replies: 17    Views: 1718
Last Post: 04/02/2014 at 15:30
9 threads returned