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Latest posts by obelixx

Topiary Tips

Posted: 18/04/2015 at 17:33

I just do plain hedges but I fancy having a go at a pair of simple spirals one day.  Here's what the RHS advises on how and when to prune and shape - 

This might help too - 

Inspiration needed - small trees for large half cider barrels

Posted: 18/04/2015 at 17:29

Watch the Beechgrove repeat on Sunday morning BBC2 to see what Chris Beardshaw does with some fruit trees kept small by regular root pruning and t'other chappy planting fruit trees on dwarf rootstocks.

You could plant your cider barrels with fruit trees such as apples, pears, cherries selected to cross pollinate each other and have blossom and foliage and fruit over 3 seasons.   Under plant with hardy cyclamen to extend the interest through winter and early spring.




Posted: 18/04/2015 at 12:57

An alternative would be to take out a third to a half of the stems now so you keep the shape and the new leaves can feed the plant but you'll provoke the plant into making new shoots which will give you stem colour next winter till you can do a full prune.

Whichever you do, give it some blood, fish and bone lightly forked in around its roots to encourage it.


Posted: 18/04/2015 at 12:56

An alternative would be to take out a third to a half of the stems now so you keep the shape and the new leaves can feed the plant but you'll provoke the plant into making new shoots which will give you stem colour next winter till you can do a full prune.

Sowing Grass Seed

Posted: 17/04/2015 at 14:34

I think those things are very useful for spreading lawn treatments in spring and autumn but for seed spreading all you need is your hand.  Prepare your lawn by first doing any weed, moss and feed treatment and leave it to work according to the instructions.  Cut then scarify and remove loose thatch.

Rake any bare patches to loosen the soil so seeds can send down roots more easily.  Fill your fist with seed and broadcast whilst walking up and down the lawn in even rows to get a good spread.

Here's advice from the RHS on reseeding lawns including a tip on using pre-germinated seed -


How to prune a climbing rose that's one year old

Posted: 17/04/2015 at 12:57

If you can tie in the two long shoots ti lie as horizontally, or at least diagionally, as possible, you will encourage sap and nutrients to flow to them to increase production of new stems and flowering buds.

Removing the twiggiest growth at the centre should also encourage stronger growth in the remaining stems and increase future flower power.  Give it a feed of special rose fertiliser too.


Posted: 16/04/2015 at 22:00

I would dig them out and plant them in deep pots so their roots can run.  If they're big enough, plant them a couple of inches deeper than they were as this encourages the formation of extra shoots which will bear more flowers.   Grow them on till they're big enough to cope in the hurly burly of life in the border with competition, wind, rain and so on.

Use the best quality compost and add some proprietary clematis feed as these plants are very hungry and need lots of building up to get the best flowering display.   Keep them watered but not drowning and give them occasional liquid feeds of tomato or rose food.  

When you do finally plant them in the border, bury them a few inches deeper than they were in the pot to encourage more new shoots - also helps protect against clematis wilt .  They can take a year or two to get going once planted out and will need annual spring top ups of clematis food but are worth the wait and the bother.   Use organic slug pellets to protect the juicy new shoots in spring as slugs love them.

Maintaining Clematis

Posted: 16/04/2015 at 10:51

Clematis are very hungry plants so I suggest you go and buy some proper clematis food and give it a generous top dressing of this every spring as well as regular liquid feeds of tomato or rose fertiliser between waterings from March up to mid July.

If it flowers in May/June it is a group 2 and you can trim it back after the first flush of flowers finishes, dead heading and pruning back to a pair of buds.  This will encourage fresh new growth that should flower at the end of summer.

You can also cut one or two stems at the base and let them wilt before pulling them out.  This will encourage new shoots to grow - as long as you're feeding it well - and provide flowers lower down the following year.  Doing this each year will keep your plant invigorated for better flowering.

If it flowers in July/August and later then it's a group 3 and all its stems ca be cut back to the lowest pair of buds in March every year when frost is not forecast for the following couple of days.   

If it flowers in April, it is most likely to be a Group 1 which just need pruning back to maintain form and size after flowering finishes and you can cut out one or two stems as explained above to re-invigorate it.


Name of plant

Posted: 16/04/2015 at 01:47

Looks like an pieris in need of some TLC.   New foliage starts red in spring and fades to green. Give it a feed of slow release blood, fish and bone and a tonic of liquid rose or tomato food now.

Water it only with rainwater as it doesn't like calcium or lime.   You can also give it a feed of something with sequestered iron in it to help green up its foliage.  When the flowers have finished, give it a foliar feed of Epsom salts diluting 1 tbs in a gallon/5 litres and pouring over the leaves.   This will boost its magnesium levels and help make healthier foliage.

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