London (change)
Today 9°C / 3°C
Tomorrow °C / °C


Latest posts by obelixx


Posted: 19/08/2013 at 11:39

The best thing for breaking up clay soils is to add a good layer of mulch each year in autumn and winter when most plants are dormant.  Mulch can be well rotted alnure, well rotted garden compost, compost bought in from the council heaps or a commercial supplier, shredded paper and cardboard mixed with grass clippings and so on.  

Mulching in autumn gives the worms and other soil critters and micro organisms all winter to break it down and mix it up.   Don't bother trying to dig it in yourself as this is hard work and can also damage what soil structure and organisms are already there.

When you want to plant, just plant through the mulch and into the clay for deeper rooted specimens such as trees and shrubs and mix the soil up a bit so you don't get a sump which will attract water and drown their roots.

People always used to say potatoes were good for breaking up heavy soils but in fact it's the digging and earthing up and harvesting that does it and you still need mulch to improve the structure permanently.



Posted: 12/08/2013 at 13:22

If possible, paint the walls and/or fences white or cream to bounce any light around and help the plants. 

Hostas, uvularia, Solomon's seal, aquilegias, ferns, clematis, astilbes, geranium phaeum and geranium macrorhuizum, ligularias and hellebores all do well in beds along my north facing wall but they do get sun after 3pm in summer. Grassy haakonechloa does well too and has beautifully sunny and golden foliage.   I also have snowdrops and small daffs in those beds which get no direct sun at all during their flowering period.


Posted: 12/08/2013 at 11:00

The annual fee to join the RHS is extremely good value - cheaper than an anuual sucbscription to many gardening magazines and you get a monthly magazine, free access to the RHS gardens and quite a few more plus free advice if you need it for a particular problem and access to the shows on members' days.


Posted: 08/08/2013 at 12:12

Patience.  Peace lilies are resilient but you'll have to wait and see if it recovers over the next few weeks.

If it does, water it in future by dunking it in a bowl or bucket of tepid water till no air bubbles appear at the top and then let it drain completely.  Water it only when a finger pushed into its compost up to the first knuckle feels dry.   This should be about once a week in summer but less in winter.

They also appreciate a spritz of moisture on their leaves from time to time.

They don't like chlorinated water so if your tap water is chlorinated, put out a bowl or bucket the night before so the chlorine can dissipate overnight.



Posted: 08/08/2013 at 11:21

Looks like an imposter to me and rather healthy so wait and see if it produces a different flower stem.


Posted: 08/08/2013 at 09:52

It's not always safe to go buy what your neighbours grow.  Across from me is a farm and riding centre and their garden is on deep sand which they try and improve with cartloads of horse manure each year but still have to come to me for a rhubarb crop as I am on deep loam over a clay subsoil.

My soil is alkaline with neutral pockets and very fertile.   The next nearest garden is acid to neutral and can grow ericaceous plants whereas I have very good clematis and lavender and brassicas.   Most plants don't mind alkaline soil if it's as fertile as mine but some just can't get the essential minerals they need, such as iron and magnesium, as the calcium locks it from their roots.

The RHS plant selector site gives good cultivation info on plants it lists but Google will find info for those it doesn't.    The RHS also publishes good gardening guides and the DR Hessayon series is also very helpful, simple and cheap. 

I would beware of investing in the big encyclopedias too soon as they are expensive and go out of date as new plants are introduced but are lovely to browse and make wish lists and generally improve knowledge.   The RHS has also recently introduced a new, more detailed system of hardiness ratings which won't be in the encyclopedias just yet.  Worth waiting for them to catch up.



Posted: 07/08/2013 at 18:00

You can buy soil tester kits from a garden centre.   Follow the instructions and make sure you use distilled water, not tap.  

You can look up plants online to find out their cultivation needs - soil PH, shade, sun, moisture, exposure and hardiness.   The RHS also publishes a huge book of garden plants which you could probably consult at your local library before deciding to buy.


Posted: 07/08/2013 at 17:56

Too right.  Teach the children to leave well alone.  My garden has a pond and lots of plants like digitalis and aconitum and American poke salad and she's now a strapping 18 year old who, unfortunately, only uses the garden for sun bathing and playing with the dogs.  Not intersted in plants or gardening - yet.


Posted: 07/08/2013 at 12:24

You can but it's best to wait till autumn when its leaves have dropped and it is dormant.

Water it well an hour before moving it as this reduces damage to roots when digging it out.  Take as big a root ball as possible when you lift it.  Make sure its new hole is already prepared and that you have some garden compost and bonemeal (promotes root growth) ready for replanting.  Plant it at the same depth it was at before and water well.  Protect form winter winds and deep frosts and it should settle in and grow new roots over winter.



Shade and dry loving plants

Posted: 06/08/2013 at 12:36

Whatever you plant, try and add a good layer of mulch from a compost heap or bought in to improve nutrients and water retention as the tree will suck up both in huge quantities.

Another good ground cover would be hardy geranium macrorhizum which comes with flowers of white, pale pink or purpley pink in late spring.   The foliage is scented and persists through all but the hardest winters and often changes to red for winter.


Discussions started by obelixx

Chelsea photos

Replies: 36    Views: 1446
Last Post: 02/06/2014 at 09:30

Hello Jro - and any other old friends

Catch up chat 
Replies: 3    Views: 677
Last Post: 27/05/2013 at 09:18

Mare's tail

Replies: 3    Views: 885
Last Post: 01/08/2013 at 17:01

Encouraging bats in our gardens

Replies: 23    Views: 1249
Last Post: 26/04/2013 at 21:35

Beechgrove this weekend

Replies: 6    Views: 691
Last Post: 12/04/2013 at 11:05

Weekend 22 March

Chat about plans for the weekend 
Replies: 108    Views: 3782
Last Post: 24/03/2013 at 18:19

Good Morning - 21 March

Replies: 33    Views: 1762
Last Post: 22/03/2013 at 09:57

Choosing chillies

Replies: 3    Views: 1004
Last Post: 23/02/2013 at 18:47

Hanging baskets and window boxes

Replies: 32    Views: 2493
Last Post: 03/03/2013 at 18:12

New shed - any tips?

Replies: 24    Views: 8886
Last Post: 22/02/2015 at 15:50
10 threads returned