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Mike Allen

Latest posts by Mike Allen

what to do with my HUGE laurel???

Posted: 12/03/2014 at 00:16

Hello my friend.

Looking at your picture.  Believe me.  I love plants trees and shrubs.  However I have to admit.  This giant is in the wrong place at the wrong time.  IMHO it is serving no purpose at all.  In fact it is totally destroying anything that your garden might otherwise offer you.  Sad to say.  If I were you. It has got to go.  Nothing more to be said.

Value branded compost V branded names

Posted: 11/03/2014 at 23:21

Well! quite a mixed bag of compost...sorry, comments.  In the past I have made do with whatever has been to hand.  Let's be honest.  Most of todays products are marketed to be attractive to the eye and have enticing slogans.  I've raised seeds and plants in basic leaf mould.  I had a friend, a fuchsia grower in Kent.  He used to get a local dairy farmer to drop a load of cow dung to his nursery.  That was all he would use.  I have tried Levingtons.  OK fo lime loving subjects.  OK.  I tried B&Q own composts.  Cheap yes.  Lots for your money and various special offers.  However I fond most, very dusty/dirty.  To explain.  I could imagine the various staff members of office cleaning firms.  At the end of their shifts.  Emptying the vacs into a big container.  That's it.  I have to admit.  I have never carried out any scientific tests analysis etc on any commercial composts.  I have experienced being choked by the dust given up by many ones such as B&Q. also somewhat dangerouse.  I have found many steel bristles from the sweepers, in the compost.  Many of these composts, I would have to add my own additions, so that at the end of the day.  I would be out of pocket.  The most reliable one that I have found and use for everything is.  J.Arthur Bowers general purpose compost.  From seed sowing to planting out, even for bulking up the garden soil.

Monty don new presenter for Chelsea

Posted: 11/03/2014 at 23:02

Should I.  or Should I not add my two pennarth to this thread.

Firstly.  I think that we all have to realise that despite the Chelsea Flower Show being, probably the world's greatest floral exhibition.  The whole event is for the RHS etc to become the 'Widow of the Horticultral world.

The average tv viewer wants to be entertained.  Whereas some would no doubt enjoy being lead around the venue by some Prof. of botany etc, who would without a script advise you of the name of this plant.  Where it originates from etc.  Everyone else would no doubt switch off.  So to try and keep it as a family show, it often becomes a big joke.

So where do we go?

Let's take a look at some of the names already mentioned.  Alan T.  I like him in small doses.  I think he has too many fingers in too many pies.  I'm a bit envious of him.  He's got a Kew Diploma, I haven't.  Oh yes.  He's got pots of stuff they call money.   I  think that Tv can help individuals and at the same time harm them.

The Irishman.  Sorry, I have never met him, but there is just something about him I can't stand.  I find some of his ideas crazy to say the least.

What we have to remember.  The majority of presenters are required to work from a script or 'Q' board.  Sophie is a good looking lady and very popular with viewers for her news reading etc.  Monty is in my book.  A great guy, he's gone through the mill in the past.  He has a captivating way about him.  He turned to journalism and has been casted in tv programs.  However in my book.  He's not a gardener.  Nikie Chapman.  I really like her.  She's played her part in previous Chelsea Shows.  To be honest.  I have to admit.  Whether she's showing us around Chelsea or Down Under or in Escape to the Country.  I find myself looking at her, to hell with the program.

So where does that leave us?  Basically that's where we came in.  Do we want a knowledgeable horticulturist to show us around, or would we prefer a well shaped general presenter,or a guy who out to earn a good living.


So.  Dovefromabove.  As far as I am concerned.  The job's all yours.  However please leave the Miss Marple s hat at home.

levelling the garden

Posted: 11/03/2014 at 22:28

Mrs T.


Hello.  Actually from the details you have provided.  Two feet high isn't really all that much.  Then as you mention.  You have gone down about seven inches and then hit concrete.  So the fence posts are secure and concreted in.  Usually post that are set in concrete usually are sunk at around eighteen inches.  So IMO you have nothing to worry about.  I'd be inclined to start by taking out a strip say three feet wide.  Levelling it.  See if there is any movement.  I am certain that you are worrying about nothing.


Hope this helps.

Sedum maintainance help required

Posted: 11/03/2014 at 21:40

If I may?

Too late.  I've started.  So I'll finish!

Alpines can be misleading at times.  Most people automatically think.  'Alpine'  Small.  Grows on mountainsides etc.  A tip if you are not sure.  Be patient and grow your subject on for a season in a slightly larger pot, indoors or outside.  Subjects that tend to race away and take over, will probably be creating similar rapid growth below the soil surface.  Hence in a much confind space such as a sink garden.  Removal of a bully-boy can and often does affect the roots of it's neighbours.  With sink gardens.  Good drainage is a must.  When using a glazed sink as the host.  It is well worth considering covering the sink with 'Hypertufa'  This is made from a mixture of equal parts, sand, cement and sifted peat, mixed with water and applied to the sink surface.  many consider it merely as a bit of decoration.  Changing the bland looking sink into what looks more like a weather worn trough.  Actually the tufa will act as a porous surface.  A degree of water will be absorbed into it, thus assisting perhaps that drop too much, to dispell.

Notes on lily planting

Posted: 11/03/2014 at 21:10

Clay pots are porous, so the base drainage hole should suffice.  Being porous, to to an fro transfer of water is quite natural.  The common plastic pot, is the type I had in mind.  Even on the growing bench, sometimes more than the needed amount of water can build up.

Glad I have a friend on here who shares one of my specialities.  A word to the wise.  Bulbs of the Martagon family, are very prone to rotting.

Notes on lily planting

Posted: 10/03/2014 at 23:07

Sorry folks.  I prepared this post a day or so ago.  Browsing the threads, I can' find itg. Perhaps I forgot to press submit post.


Notes on the cultivation of Lilies.

As the subject has been raised as to the overwintering of lilies. Basically, most lilies will overwinter in the ground, provided that good sensible care was taken when planting in the first place. Might I say. That even as one who has grown many different varieties. Pleas do your research. Yes! I admit. I have set about plant new lily stock, sometimes even replacing lost specimens. Please do your homework. Lily bulbs still remain amongst some of the more expensive bulbs.

If I might point out at this early stage. Due to the lack of a generous garden site. I often resort to sinking pots of bulbs etc into the ground. From a more scientific aspect, might I suggest. Build yourself a stock of, ‘Your special pots’. Take the average pot, drill several holes around the sides of the pot, and at varying levels. You will get better results and might I add, with far less losses. Various bulb planters can be purchased. These usually resemble the kitchen cullendar, used for rinsing veg; etc. The practical aspect here is. Take any size pot. It’s sunk into the garden. Heavy rains etc can flood the contents of the pot. Before the compost has adequately drained, the poor old lily has rotted. On the other hand. The spread of the plant, could well prevent sufficient water to enter the pot. Death due to lack of moisture. Whereas, the multi holed pot, will permit ground water to filter into the pot at lower levels. Not forgetting of course. Roots will seek out moisture. This can be achieved using this method.

Now the lily bulbs. Once again. Read the instructions. Some lilies do best in an alkaline compost. Others will tolerate a little lime/acid. Others, even the slightest sniff of lime, and you have lost that one. Interestingly lilies offer the gardener several opportunities.

For instance. Some bulbs need special care. The bulb is planted low. Usually 6inches deep. However the pot/container isn’t filled with compost. Gradually the growing point will grow a little, the roots will form. So here you will have roots at the base of the bulb, and now roots just above the top of the bulb. So you have to add more compost. This can take place several times. Please be patient. Lily bulbs are made up of scales. Sometimes, especially with new stock. Some of these scales might break off. Don’t panic. Removed scales whether accidentally or intentionally, they are valued propagating material. In this case. Using a polythene bag. A handful of peat and vermiculite. Drop the scales, add a tiny drop of water. Blow into the bag to expand it. Tie the top and place in the airing cupboard. In time tiny roots and bulbs will appear at the scale base. Take out. Pot up and grow on. Back to the bulbs. Some lily bulbs produce new bulbs attached to the parent bulb. Usually in this case. After flowering, the parent bulb will die, leaving behind the new bulbs. Grow these on. A very fascinating aspect of lily growing. It will be noticed that in the leaf axils. Tiny bulbils start to appear. These also can be harvested and grown on. In some cases, the removal of the flower head/bud will permit these bulbils to grow faster and better.

Were I a journalist be. I could probably write a whole book on the subject. However folks. The old eyes are getting a bit painful

I do hope this info helps one and all.

garden centres vs garden nursery's

Posted: 10/03/2014 at 22:19

Hey Jack3.  Checking your profile.  Bromley.  You have that place at Keston, also Polhill.  I will message you with my address.  Feel free to call in sometime.


For my friends who, sadly are far from either nurseries or garden centers.  Such a shame.  Apart from the obvious.  I often pop along to a garden center, because, being amongst plants and trees, i fell so different, happier etc.  Plus as an added bonus.  I always manage to get a conversation going with someone.

Leaf Pruning - is there such a thing?

Posted: 10/03/2014 at 21:54

This sometimes happens to other woody stemmed subjects.  For instance.  Fuchsias often retain old leaves far into the new growing season.  If you can see any visible defects or signs that  disease etc might be to blame.  Then as suggested pick the leaves off.  Otherwise leave them.  In time they will fall.

Rhubarb Crown with No Roots ?

Posted: 10/03/2014 at 21:48

This reminds me of when I was kid.  Dad and I were working on the allotment, aided also by my brother-in-law.   Come brew-up time. Dad says to Charlie.  So! what do you think about gardening?  I guess it's OK, POP, but I'v e dug up loads of old dry rotton wood.  Dad almost jumped out of his skin.  ''You daft 'B****R!  that's not rotton wood.  That's my rhubarb....Poor old Charlie trotted off muttering.  Never did like gardening anyway.  Absolutely true friends.  To this day, over which some sixty years have passed.  Although I don't grow rhubarb anymore.  I can't say that I have ever seen roots as such on this subject.

Discussions started by Mike Allen

Dare I say.

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A request or suggestion.

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Pernission to speak SIR!

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Caution..Spoof emailers.

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Arum Maculatum

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Monty Don.

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Childbirth at 65

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Interest fro across the pond.

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What is going on?

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Great revival of British Gardens

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Just my luck

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Talkback: Yellow leaves and slow growth

Pippa. I love your blogs and your general writings. Might I pick your brains etc. I am an oldie. 75 in fact I bagan gardening as the bomb... 
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Last Post: 05/07/2014 at 23:37

Collecting and Saving Seed.

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