Latest posts by Lunarz

Keeping Cats and Wildlife apart?

Posted: 16/08/2012 at 17:33

I have got 3 cats and I do everything I can to encourage wildlife into my garden - I do question whether I am doing the right thing quite often!  My bird feeders are now up really high, although it does mean having to stand on upturned logs or a ladder to fill them up!  That has definitely limited the number of dead birds the cats bring in.  The mice come in to eat off my bird feeders and the cats do bring a few of them in, but I normally manage to (eventually) catch them and put them in a local field and they are rarely that hurt. When I was at uni I did a couple of units on ecology and my lecturer assured us that the damage that cats do is somewhat limited, especially if you are feeding the birds, because the amount of birds you are helping is proportionally far more than the number caught by cats.  She believed that they are mainly catching very old or very young birds anyway who have a much higher chance of dying in the wild.  It does really upset me when the cats get the butterflies though - especially in a year like this year where there are hardly any butterflies anyway 

Discouraging Starlings

Posted: 16/08/2012 at 17:20

 Thanks sotongeoff - if only they could read, I'd get that sign up straight away!  Mind you, they are such vandals, they probably would just ignore the sign anyway....  According to that link you posted they are in national decline - not in my garden they're not!  

Discouraging Starlings

Posted: 16/08/2012 at 16:35

Hi - my garden has been overtaken this year by a big gang of adolescent starlings.  They eat all of the food as soon as I put it down, they constantly fight with other little birds to discourage them from using the feeders, they squeal all the time and fight with each other, causing them to drop the seed all over the place meaning I have to weed all the time.  They used to only use the big tray of suet I put out especially for them, but now they are using the hanging seed feeders and even trying to hang onto the peanut feeder.  I've bought really small feeders which I hoped that they couldn't get into but it didn't work, they squeeze themselve into them, and I've made plastic covers for a couple of the suet feeders so that only hanging birds can use them, but they have got around that too.  Before I stop feeding the birds completely, just wondered if anyone had come up with any ways of getting rid of them?  They even made their way into my attic and I had to have all my upstairs bathroom vents replaced!

Mildew on Clematis

Posted: 16/08/2012 at 16:27

Here is an organic solution I use on mildew:

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid
This works by raising the pH of the leaves, which creates an environment which isn't suitable for mildew.  It may not get rid of the current mildew, but it will certainly stop it spreading.  Also meant to be good is cow's milk believe it or not: mix 1 part milk with 9 parts water and spray the stems and tops of leaves with the solution. 
If you remove or collect up any diseased leaves, it's important not to put them in the compost which you are then planning to use in the garden,m as it may spread the mildew to plants in the future.  You should also wash any secateurs you use on the mildew too.  Good luck with it - it is such a nightmare when a lovely plant gets covered in mildew isnt' it 

Help identifying 2 shrubs

Posted: 16/08/2012 at 16:20

The second one could be a type of Nandina domestica - perhaps Richmond.

Know your soil type

Posted: 16/08/2012 at 15:53

I certainly wasted a lot of time and money when I first started gardening because I didn't understand soil type and acidity.  I also didn't take into account much whether plants like light or shade.  I just bought what I thought looked nice and shoved it in!  As you say, I was a fool and I was certainly parted from a lot of my money!  Learning about my type of soil (sandy) and its pH (very alkaline) took a couple of years, but that was all part of the process of learning about gardening.  When I first started, even if I had looked at my neighbours gardens, I still wouldn't have been able to identify what the plants were and be able to ask for them in a garden centre!   So glad those days are over - and so is my wallet!

Talkback: Wet weather and wildlife

Posted: 11/08/2012 at 21:20

I've had more butterflies in the last week than I have had previously all year.  Let's hope they're just late this year...

Very short echinacea

Posted: 08/08/2012 at 17:00

Thanks gents - both of them are supposed to be Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus' although I am wondering whether I accidentally got sent one of these and one of the standard Echinaceas, which are supposed to be substantially taller. Not sure whether these are old or new varieties? Even the smaller one, though, is supposed to be 1m rather than 30cm.  The small one is by a large Jasmine which I actually thought was dead as it got fooled by the warm weather around Xmas time into thinking it was Spring, put on loads of leafs and then all of them got killed when we had the really cold weather in March.  Amazingly though it has come back strong and even flowered this year.  Perhaps it is taking a lot of the moisture and feed out of the soil leaving the Echinacea on that side starved, although the lupins and lavenders around it are all the same size as the ones on the other side of the border.  Or perhaps as Christopher says, it is just temperamental! 

Very short echinacea

Posted: 08/08/2012 at 10:34

Hi,  I have got two echinaceas in my 'sunny' border (although the border only actually gets sun about 50% of the day).  They are supposed to be the same type of echinacea and the flowers look identical.  One is about 120cms high - like it is supposed to be - but the one the other side is only about 30-40cm.  The tall one is surrounded by lupins and the short one has got a lavender next to it and a large jasmine behind it with lupins on the other side.  I have fed them both equally this year with a diluted seaweed feed plus put chicken pellets around them both.  Any ideas why one is so stunted please?  Thanks 

Talkback: Wet weather and wildlife

Posted: 08/08/2012 at 09:59

I've had alarmingly few butterflies this year   I've had lots of bees, but apparently the very wet weather has had a terrible effect on bees this year:

Hedgehogs, on the other hand, are rife in my garden.  I get at least 4 or 5 a night, but this is because I put mealworms down for them I think.  They don't eat all the slugs though, which is a shame! 

Discussions started by Lunarz

Starlings not migrating

When will they sod off! 
Replies: 49    Views: 15699
Last Post: 06/05/2017 at 07:29

Hedgehogs near extinction

So sad... 
Replies: 24    Views: 3686
Last Post: 19/11/2012 at 20:44

Absolutely enormous slug

As big as my hand! 
Replies: 15    Views: 2733
Last Post: 25/10/2012 at 20:46

Lupins destroyed by greenfly

Will they survive? 
Replies: 21    Views: 18930
Last Post: 20/08/2016 at 13:45

Bird seed falling in pond

So much work cleaning it out! 
Replies: 14    Views: 1938
Last Post: 15/10/2012 at 18:59

The mystery of the disappearing hedgehogs

Where have they gone? 
Replies: 32    Views: 10288
Last Post: 24/10/2017 at 18:28

Discouraging Starlings

Any bright ideas? 
Replies: 27    Views: 30977
Last Post: 30/07/2017 at 14:31

Very short echinacea

One normal size, one very short 
Replies: 4    Views: 2267
Last Post: 08/08/2012 at 23:14

Are astilbes poisonous to some insects?

Lots of dead insects on my astilbes 
Replies: 7    Views: 2507
Last Post: 08/08/2012 at 13:24

Are sterile plants any good for wildlife?

Foxglove Pink Illumination - any nectar 
Replies: 19    Views: 10480
Last Post: 22/08/2013 at 18:45

Is organic fertilizer OK?

Or does it still count as an undesirable NPK fertilizer? 
Replies: 3    Views: 1878
Last Post: 19/07/2012 at 23:58

Feeding poor-soil loving plants in pots?

Should these plants ever be fed even if in pots? 
Replies: 3    Views: 1496
Last Post: 16/07/2012 at 10:41

How long do Lupins live?

How short-lived are Lupins? 
Replies: 31    Views: 46861
Last Post: 07/06/2015 at 20:35

Where have all the birds gone?

Birds have deserted my garden 
Replies: 17    Views: 9194
Last Post: 21/06/2012 at 09:27

Is everyone else's plants very late this year?

Plants very late? 
Replies: 12    Views: 1515
Last Post: 20/06/2012 at 10:04
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