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Latest posts by obelixx

Mulch or fleece for the winter

Posted: 22/09/2013 at 13:11

The crown of the plant is the part just under the soil from which perennials produce new shoots each year.   Shrubs and climbers don't have such a crown but still like to have a mulch to improve the soil.

Have to agree about David King and anyone being able to predict weather 6 months ahead.  However, given who is the editor of the Lady I don't expect much better.

Mulch or fleece for the winter

Posted: 22/09/2013 at 11:52

Mulching done in autumn when the plants have died down just involves clearing dead growth that may encourage or shelter slugs and tipping well rotted garden compost or manure or a mix of the two over the ground and spreading it, the thicker the better.  It helps trap moisture and autumn warmth in the soil and protects the crowns of plants from frost.    It gets worked in by worm activity over the winter so aerates and feeds the soil and its organisms and improves texture, making it easier for plants to grow good roots.


Mulch or fleece for the winter

Posted: 22/09/2013 at 09:53

I agree with Berghill about growing what does well.

Winters have been particularly hard since Jan 2009 and were already harder than the average UK winter.  It's not so bad when there's a snow blanket to protect plants but lethal when it's cold and dry or cold and very wet for long periods.  I've lost count of the shrubs and plants I have lost and have stopped buying fancy plants with wussy tendencies and stick to good doers that will cope.

The best way to protect plants is a good mulch so that at least the crown is protected.  They have the added benefit of improving the soil.   After that, wind breaks which can be either porous wooden fences, shrubs or special netting stretched on posts or wire fences.   Fleece is fine in a greenhouse but looks dreadful in gardens and gets blown to bits in the first gale.

Benefits of Comfrey

Posted: 20/09/2013 at 14:37

They both contain lots of minerals that make good plant feed but comfrey ahs just a bit more and doesn't sting when harvested.   It also makes good ground cover and has pretty flowers in spring which bees and other plloinators like. 

It does spread very easily though so harvest as soon as the flowers go over.  Just cut off all the foliage just above the ground and it will come back fine.   Warning - i've been trying to clear it from a couple of places where it went mad and bits still shoot up. 

moving irises - is it too late?

Posted: 20/09/2013 at 13:35

I've assumed bearded iris.  I'm actually in the pricess of sorting out a huge clump pf iris sibirica which ahs been invaded by couch grass, creeping buttercup and bindweed - along with half my garden - while I've been laid up after double foot surgery earlier in the year.  I'm hopng it will feel suitable regenerated and flower its socks off next year but, if not, at least it will be weed free while it gathers energy fo rthe following year's performance.

in or out fig

Posted: 20/09/2013 at 11:32

It depends on the variety.  Brown Turkey should be OK in a cold greenhouse in Norfolk and you can give it a fleece blanket if it gets extra cold - not bubble wrap as it won't be able to breathe and will rot.

I have had one do OK outside in a deep 60cm pot but recent winters have seen us regularly going down well below the usual -15C and it has suffered so last autumn I planted it in the ground in an unheated greenhouse lined with bubble wrap for extra insulation and it still was frozen to bits.  However it has recovered well and grown plentiful new branches which I plan to train in the next couple of weeks once the bubble wrap goes back on the greenhouse walls and I've repaired the panes broken in recent storms.  I shall give it a fleece blanket too as I really want figs next year.  They are luscious.

moving irises - is it too late?

Posted: 20/09/2013 at 11:24

The usual advice is to move them immediately after flowering finishes but I don't see why you can't do it now while the soil is still warm and there's plenrty of rain to help the roots settle in and some warm sunny days to encourage them.

Make sure you water them well first and then trim the foliage on each section you plant to reduce wind rock which will disturb the roots.  They may not flower brilliantly next year but, by all acouunts, they didn't this year so you've nothing to lose and in a sunnier spot they'll do better in future.  


Posted: 20/09/2013 at 09:06

I'm not sure hydrangea petiolaris will cope with windy exposure as it's a woodland plant from Japan and Siberia, so, while it can cope with cold, I suspect strong winds in spring will damage new young shoots.

On the other hand, it will cope very well with the cool, shady side of a north east facing wall so if you can give it plenty of organic matter to retain moisture and stop it drying out it is probably worth a try.

Other than that, I would suggest a group 3 clematis which is pruned back hard in March and then flowers in summer on new season's growth.  Have a look at which has small flowers less likely to be damaged by wind but with good colour.

Another to consider is or maybe or or another small flowerd one with a long flowering period -

All are suitable for semi shade but be aware that clematis can take a couple of years to settle in before they really perform well.  They are also very hungry, thirsty plants so need a deep hole back-filled with plenty of organic matter to feed them and retain moisture for their thick, fleshy roots.  

Clematis need to be planted 4 to 6" deeper than they were in their pot to encourage more shoots to from and protect against clematis wilt.  Make the hole at least 2 feet away from the base of the wall so they don't sit in a rain shadow or dry spot and feed anually with a good mulch of garden compost in spring and a generous handful of clematis offd at pruning time.   A liquid feed of rose or tomato food every couple of weeks from pruning to flowering time will help too and  make sure you have wires or a trellis on battens attached to the wall for it to cling to.

I also find dead heading helps prolong flowering in the first couple of years and then they look after themselves apart from training the new stems out along the supports for maximum coverage.

No flowers on gladioli

Posted: 18/09/2013 at 13:22

I don't really like glads but planted sme in a pot this year after they were left unwanted at a charity plant sale along with one each of purple and white petunias.  They all did well and flowered well and the glads turned out to be a rich, deep purple rather than the gaudy candy shades I dislike.  I shall keep them for next year.

I also planted acidanthus in pots and had lots of flowers but not on every plant.  I suspect they were overcrowded so, once the foliage dies down I shall lift them and separate them and plant them less densely next year.

Both pots had full sun and regular watering and feeding.

Autumn Hanging Baskets

Posted: 18/09/2013 at 11:35

I've just replaced my summer baskets at the front door with deep fuchsia pink hardy cyclamen and silvery white cineraria which picks up the marbling on the cyclamen foliage.   The baskets by the garage doors will be replaced by the fuchisa baskets which have been hanging on teh north side of the house.

These will do well until the first frosts and then I'll plant out the cyclamen to increase my increasing stock in a shletered front bed and take the fuchsias indoors for the winter.  

It's too cold here for winter baskets but I do things like skimmia, euonymous, bronze carex and variegated ivy for the two pots by the front door with some cheery faced violas for extra colour.  I've learned not to try phormiums, pennisetum, heathers, heucheras and so on in pots.   They just die of cold. 

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