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Latest posts by obelixx

Ants nesting in my mint tub!!

Posted: 28/07/2013 at 14:36

Nesting ants means dry soil or compost so give it a thorough soaking morning and evening for a couple of days and then pour on a solution of one small bottle of essential oil of cloves mixed into 5 litres of water.  It will permeate the compost and they will move away as they can't stand the smell and you can continue to harvest your mint.

It's Pennyroyal that ants don't like, not mint.

Mint varieties

Posted: 28/07/2013 at 11:08

It wasn't a definitive list.  Just one from a nursery listing their plants and whether or no they had a PBR or an AGM - award of garden merit.   

I expect if you google about a bit you could find a list of PBR plants.  They have to be registered so some organisation will have a list.


The other side of Monty Don.

Posted: 27/07/2013 at 18:48

I fell asleep again and missed that bit.  I record it as I'm usually busy but now find I fall asleep whenever I watch GW so it takes 3 or 4 goes to see the lot.

We all need to do our best to help beneficial insects thrive after such poor wet summers in the two previous years and the long, cold, wet winter and spring we've just had because they're in crisis, especially butterflies and  moths which have such specialised needs for their caterpillars.    

Hoverflies are such good friends to gardeners taht we need to get over any squeamies about their larvae and help them along.   MD should be making that clear. 

English forest design for front garden.

Posted: 27/07/2013 at 18:42

I wouldn't.   When I first planted my 7 x 5 metre bed I used weed suppressant membrane and planted a mix of hostas, acers and grasses through it and then found them being strangled as they wanted to expand over the years.   I ended up lifting the lot and transplanting the hostas and grasses and now have a rose bed under planted with geranium macrorhizum and lavenders with several clematis on obelisks and bulbs and aquilegias for spring colour.   The Sango Kaku is in the west corner sheltered from prevailing westerly winds and afternoon sun by a trellis with a climbing rose and another clematis.

I do have to weed it now but I've learned my lesson and don't use membrane anywhere now except for gravel or chipped bark paths.


Posted: 27/07/2013 at 18:34

Clematis are greedy plants and need plenty of food and a decent supply of water to do well.   They can also take a year or two to get established before they perform with gay abandon.    Are the non flowering varieties getting enough food?

It may also be that your are pruning them in the wrong way for their group.  Can you tell us what varieties they are and when you are pruning them?


Mint varieties

Posted: 27/07/2013 at 18:32

You can grow plants which have plant breeder's rights (PBR) restrictions and you can propagate them for your own use or to give away but not to sell for profit without having a licence form and paying a forfeit to the plant breeder.  I doubt very much if ginger mint has such a restriction as it's been around for years and I found a list from a nursery indicating which of its plants have a PBR and their ginger mint listing has none.

English forest design for front garden.

Posted: 27/07/2013 at 11:07

You rplan sound good to me.   Sango Kaku should be fine in this situation.  See here -

Your ferns and hostas will disappear in winter so the stones and stumps will add interest but you could maybe consider some bergenia as these keep their foliage over winter and would help with ground cover -  There is a white flowered version too.

MD in current GW

Posted: 26/07/2013 at 13:19

I think just growing natives is a bit precious and very boring in the UK.  It's going to look like a bed of weeds with a short flowering season and not much other interest for most of the year.   I don't really like prairie style planting but I feel that does at least offer more variety of form, texture and colour for longer.

My garden is a mix of European natives and plants from other parts of the world.  There's no shortage of nectar available and I have a pond, an insect hotel, log piles and bird feeders plus a good range of trees, shrubs and perennials to provide food and shelter all year round for all sorts of wildlife.   The place is buzzing.

English forest design for front garden.

Posted: 24/07/2013 at 13:34

I agree about tree ferns and they're also difficult to get through winter without wrapping them up in unsightly fleece and straw.   It would also be overkill.  I have a bed out the front which measures 7 x 5 metres and can't imagine fitting even one tree fern in it as their foliage spreads so wide when mature.   They would also make it very dark in the room that overlooks this bed.

I should think native ferns and similar types would be fine for this situation and aspect and would give great foliage contrast to the hostas, especially if you go for the big boys like golden Sum and Substance hosta or blue and gold streaked June.   These can take a year or two to get to mature size so give them plenty of space and make sure the soil is improved with moisture retentive garden compost and/or well rotted manure.    You could also add aquilegias and Japanese anemones to extend the season of colour from the bulbs.  

Sangko Kaku is a very good acer and the red stems would make an interesting focal point through winter until the new foliage emerges and gives colour through to autumn.   I do have one of these in my bed and it's lovely in colour and form.

One word of warning.  This bed is going to be a slug fest in spring so start early with wildlife friendly slug pellets on Valentine's Day (easy to remember) and every week or two so you get the perishers as they emerge from hibernation or hatch and before they feed and breed.

Hakonechloa - poisonus to dogs?

Posted: 24/07/2013 at 11:48

My cats and dogs always seem to prefer the ornamentals I cultivate for display rather thatn the couch grass I could do with help getting rid of. 

They like hakonechloa, new shoots on miscanthus and so on.  Hasn't harmed them yet.

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