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Latest posts by obelixx


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I would beware of investing in the big encyclopedias too soon as they are expensive and go out of date as new plants are introduced but are lovely to browse and make wish lists and generally improve knowledge.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.



Posted: 03/08/2013 at 10:24

My blueberries got badly zapped by deep frosts in the winter of 2011-12 so I pruned out all the dead wood and treated them to a generous dollop feed for ericaceous plants and they recovered wella nd put on lots of new growth.   I put a  winbreak around them for the last winter and this did the trick and protected the new growth.

I had plenty of flowers but then we had a frost and that means I've had about 6 berries per plant so i'll do the windbreak trick again and keep it on till mid May when teh frosts should be pver to see if that helps protect the flowers too.

Blueberries only need pruning to remove dead wood and keep them to a size and shape that suits their space.  They're not like blackcurrants where you prune out the old fruited wood and keep renewing the vigour..

32 today, what are you doing to keep cool,,,

Posted: 02/08/2013 at 17:07

38C here and another storm expected overnight so I've been taking advantage of the heat and dry to sand down our teak table and oil it thoroughly.   Next I'll be making sure chairs and pots are safely stashed and that plants are staked.  

We've had 2 trees down in the paddock across the road after Saturday's storm which also lifted one entire window box, dumped the contents on the grass and then blew the container to kingdom come.  Haven't seen it since.   In Monday's storm we lost a 15 yr old parrotia persica to lightening strike and it flattened all sorts of shrubs and perennials when it landed.   Humph.   Don't want any more of that thanks.

In between all that I'm making spiced blackcurrant jelly.  Bumper crop this year.


hanging basket watering

Posted: 02/08/2013 at 09:56

Well, we'll have to agree to disagree.  I don't use any chemicals agains aphids or other pests apart form wildlife friendly pellets for slugs and snails. 

Soapy water is indiscriminate and bad for beneficial insects such as hoverflies and ladybirds which will eat thousands of aphids and maintain a balance if left alone.  I  feed the birds all year and the parents hoover up aphids and caterpillars to feed their young in the nest.   More natural balance.  

Ideas wanted for a shade loving climber that flower

Posted: 02/08/2013 at 09:52

Montana will get too big for a small shed.   You'll need to provide a support such as netting, trellis or wires to support a climber as they can't cling to a plastic shed but you could then go for an evergreen variegated ivy which will give year round interest and flower eventually when it's mature enough - important food for insects and birds at a difficult time of year.

There are evergreen clems too which will look better than montana in winter - cirhhosa and armandii varieties are good.    There's also honeysuckle to consider - Lonicera × brownii 'Dropmore Scarlet' is semi evergreen. Lonicera sempervirens is evergreen.   Both will tolerate partial shade so, as long as your north facing shed isn't in too dark a  corner, might be worth trying.   They are good hosts for beneficial insects and provide nectar for butterflies.


English forest design for front garden.

Posted: 02/08/2013 at 09:39

celandine?   invasive weed but there are some forms that aren't so bad and are a bit more decorative.

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