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Latest posts by obelixx

I'm so so bored stiff

Posted: 05/01/2014 at 10:21

I enjoy the Chilterns catalogue as it has humour as well as great goodies.  Plant World have good things too.  If you belong to the RHS you can also get seeds from their seed collection and distribution service.

Shan't be ordering any myself thiough as I find I have an embarassment of seeds in my box, both bought and collected - the perils of sorting out the garage and organising the new womanshed.  I shall be good and sow those and see what grows before I buy any new ones.

Bird feeders

Posted: 04/01/2014 at 15:14

Our garden birds get peanuts, mixed seed and fat balls prepared for birds and sometimes those square slabs of fat mixed with fruit or mealworms.  Very occasionally they get leftover cake or muffins which are usually fruit based so not salty  but they don't get bread.  We don't eat much of it ourselves and any that is left gets blitzed for crumbs for freezing and cooking later.

I've seen peanut butter for birds on sale but never bought it as I reckon there's enough choice on offer in my garden including seed heads and insects and so on.

Front Gardens & Evergreens

Posted: 03/01/2014 at 14:57

I have a box hedge round a rose and perennial bed which includes some heuchera and geranimum macrorhizum which keep their foliage.     In another bed I have a picea abies Rydal whose new growth is a deep red in spring so I grow it with a couple of red stemmed cornus.   Another bed has a large cornus Midwinter Fire for stem colour and green and purple leaved forms of bergenia backed by a conifer hedge.   Everything else is deciduous or herbaceus.

I find some evergreen is good for structure and interest but bare stems of trees and shrubs with some grasses and perennial seed heads add their own beauty in winter.

I'm so so bored stiff

Posted: 02/01/2014 at 10:23

Too wet to garden here as the soil is waterlooged so can't even risk getting on it for weeding.  However, I have a newish womanshed which needs its new shelves finishing and an OH on hand to help.  Then it'll be a case of transferring garden stuff in to there from the garage so we can do something radical like get a car in it.

A few pots big left to move into greenhouse or shed and the bay tree to bring indoors before winter hits.   Need to call a man about lanwmower maintenance too and, food to plan and prepare as ever.

Not going anywhere near seeds till the days are longer and there's more light.

winter jasmine

Posted: 01/01/2014 at 15:09

I find winter jasmine very tricky as it's really too cold for it in my garden and it's desperately dull for 50 weeks of the year.

Have you thought about winter flowering clematis such as cirrhosa Freckles or Wisley Cream?   You can look them up here -  Both do well on a sheltered wall.    You could also try an evergreen honeysuckle such as Dropmore Scarlet or Halliana or Sempervirens.   They don't flower in winter but you'd have the foliage.   Another possibility is one of the large leaved variegated ivies which have the benefit of being good habitat and food for wildlife.

Can any holly be made into a standard?

Posted: 30/12/2013 at 09:45

It looks undernourished to me so feed it and, if possible, trim back any nearby growth which is shading it from light and rain.   You'll be able to see your standard much better if it has less visual competitition too.

Cut down Clematis now?

Posted: 28/12/2013 at 16:41

If this is a Montana - and it seems likely - then you will lose one season of flowers if you cut it back hard before mid April asthey flower on old wood.   On the other hand, by cutting half back now to leave a manageable bundle, you will have an easier time replacing the old supports with something stronger and more extensive and then you can more easily train in the new shoots come spring to have a more manageable and attractive plant in future.  

Montanas are pruning group 1 so usually they are tidied up once flowering finishes in spring but only pruned enough to remove any dead wood and keep them in bounds.   They are vigorous so it will need to be regularly monitored and trained in to its support.   They recover well from a severe haircut as long as the new growth isn't zapped by untimely heavy frosts which is why I suggested earlier that you could take it back by a half - as insurance.

Cut down Clematis now?

Posted: 27/12/2013 at 10:45

You can safely cut back half the growth now to tidy it up and reduce wind resistance.  This will leave plenty of stems to produce new buds next spring even if some get clobbered by early frosts.  i'm about to d this on a Little Nell taht has been torn of its supporting arch by the high winds.   As it's a group 3 which regenerates from th ebase I can safely do this.

Given yours is an unknown quantity, just prune off what you need to make it manageable.  What's left can be untangled from its support and leaned away from the house wall while you put in a stronger support.   If you are attaching new trellis, screw it to battens fixed to the wall as this will allow air to flow and reduce the likelihood of disease.  

Come the spring, feed your clematis generously with clematis food and then wait fo it to flower.  You can then use the month of flowering and the colour to try and identify it and see what pruning regime it needs for the future to keep it looking good.  This site has a search facility and lists over 3000 clematis so yours should be in there -  it also has advice on pruning.

Overgrown Clematis

Posted: 24/12/2013 at 10:32

As KT says, if you cut it back hard you risk losing the flowers fo rthe next season but you will have a rejuvenated plant.   Wait until early or late March - depending on how severe a winter we get - and then prune it back to just two or three buds on each stem.  Pull away all the unwanted growth and then give it a generous feed of proper clematis fod - available in good garden centres - and an instant liquid tonic of rose or tomato food.  

Once it does flower, note the month and colour and size of flowering and you can look it up on this site -    A general pruning rule is that if it flowers before the end of June you prune after flowering.  If it flowers from July onwards, you cut it back in March.    The clematis site explains in more depth.

Just moved - horrible garden

Posted: 24/12/2013 at 10:19

Making a new, unlined pond is the obvious answer to drainage problems.  We did it as our garden would otherwise be waterlogged all year.    Make it good and deep in the middle - 3' is good - and plant the edges with marginals such as iris sibirica and other irises plus some tall plants like miscanthus zebrinus which will mask the pond a bit when water levels recede in summer.   As it is unlined you will need to referee as plants like yellow flag, bullrushes and native grasses will do their best to invade and terraform it so invest in some waders form a fishing supplies shop.

Since you can't do much else in winter, get to the lirary and borrow books on shade gardening.   There are lots out there and an east facing garden should present plenty of opportunities for beautiful and interesting plants.    Wildlife doesn't need native plants so much as plants which provide pollen, nectar and shelter.   You can also consult the RHS Plant Selector for plants suitable for an east facing garden -

With a new and unknown garden it's also a good idea to let it be in its first year and just weed borders, cut tehgrass and do obvious pruning.  Then you can see what you have and what you need to change.  Take photos and jot down ideas as they occur so that, come autumn, you can start the planning and design of all the changes you want to make.    You can also sow seeds and bring on new perennials for planting out later on.


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11 threads returned