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Latest posts by obelixx


Posted: 22/10/2012 at 14:09

I agree with Alina.  Clematis are very hungry plants and most of mine have suffered this year from an excess of rain and lack of warmth after already being challenged by drought all last year.   Some of my 40+ clems have done very well, others have struggled then finally put on a show and some have just struggled despite TLC.

I plan on giving them all bonemeal to feed their roots this winter plus a mulch of compost and then big feeds of blood, fish and bone in early spring and clematis food as growth starts in earnest.   If they look at all dodgy, I'll give them instant tonic with liquid rose or tomato food once the worst frosts are past in May.   

Royal Purple Plant

Posted: 20/10/2012 at 13:11

Have you tried using the Plant Finder facility on the RHS website? 

Filling a small garden with small plants seems logical but actually just makes it look smaller and bitty so try a few large scale plants.  You can also make your garden look wider by widening the borders at the sides and introducing angles or curves that stop the eye going straight to the back fence. 

You can also break up the expanse of fence by attaching horizontal wires to vine eyes screwed in at 12 to 18 inch intevals and then using them to train climbing roses, clematis and/or honeysuckle to give flowers and perfume through the groing season.       

Shrub or tree? what will determine???

Posted: 19/10/2012 at 16:05

Look at its shape and look at the label.  Generally speaking if it's growing low and hummocky it will stay that way but may reach quite a large spread and a bit more height over time.

More upright forms will get taller.  Sango Kaku is a good small tree with bright red stems in winter.  Mine started out about 4 or 5' tall and is now well over 2 m high though its stem ends get frosted every winter here so it may grow taller and faster for you..

Dog fouling on lawn and in the soil

Posted: 19/10/2012 at 15:46

Cats can be deterred by a water scarecrow.  Google for info and suppliers.  

I expect one would work in a front garden too - except for water dogs like Labradors - and postmen, milkmen and paper boys wouldn't be too happy.

Dog fouling on lawn and in the soil

Posted: 19/10/2012 at 12:21

If the garden is unattended during the day there's not a lot can be done except to close access to the garden.  If that's not an option, Alina's suggestion of a sonic deterent is sound advice as uncaring owners and unattended dogs have no-one to stop them entering your garden and pooing where they please.

We always pick up our dogs' mess in town and on country paths but not all owners do that.

Remove Robinia Tree?

Posted: 19/10/2012 at 10:29

The RHS thinks the problem is exacerbated by a cool wet summer so I'm waiting another year to see if my tree improves.  It did put on some fresh, healthy foliage during a short hot spell in August and ended up looking much better so it gets a stay of execution.

Bulb Fennel

Posted: 19/10/2012 at 10:27

I use it in salads, baked with Parmesan (recipe on BBC Food site), added in chunks to roast Mediterranean veggies or, my favourite:-

Baked Fennel with Goat's Cheese 4 or more, depending

adapted from a recipe by Pru Leith. 

This quantity is for 4 as a vegetarian meal. It's also good with simply grilled pork, chicken or fish. 

4              bulbs of fennel

30g          butter

1              lemon, juice only

4 tbs        water

6              sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained

30g          pine nuts

150g         goats' cheese log


Heat the oven to 200C.   Trim the fennel and cut through the middle into 2 and then cut each half again 2 or 3 times to make wedges.   Place these in a shallow oven-proof dish.  Sprinkle on the lemon juice and water and cook in the microwave for 10 minutes.   Drain.

 Slice the tomatoes and sprinkle over the fennel, followed by the pine nuts and crumbled goats' cheese.   Drizzle with olive oil (from the tomatoes if you have some) and bake for 15 to 20 minutes till the cheese is browned.

Winter Veg

Posted: 18/10/2012 at 12:04

From what I've seen on Beechgrove which is filmed near Aberdeen, the best way for you to get veggies through the winter is to protect them with fleece if they're out in the open or grow them in polytunnels.  I suggest you have a browse through their Fact Sheets to see if any offer advice - 

I garden in central Belgium which can get seriously cold and I haven't got any winter veg through for the last 4 winters but strawberries survive, as do blueberries, blackcurrants and other soft fruits and rhubarb crowns.  Winter kale and broccoli, Swiss chard, garlic, leeks and onions have all been frozen to mush.  This year I'm trying these again but will be giving them cloches or fleece covered frames for protection against the worst of the winds and frosts.

Conifer mulch

Posted: 18/10/2012 at 11:34

They may also be short of magnesium as this also causes chlorosis or yellowing of the leaves.   You can address this by pouring over a solution of Epsom salts and water making sure it lands on leaves before dripping down to the soil - 1 tbs to a gallon of water or 15ml to 5 litres.  Don't do it on a sunny day.

Epsom salts are also good for roses and, apparently, tomatoes where they improve flavour.   i shall be trying that on mine next year.

lawn removal?

Posted: 17/10/2012 at 12:57

I wouldn't have thought the grass would be a problem, either under the raised beds or under the paths.   The lack of light will kill it without having to use chemicals.  Just make sure you root out any big weeds such as thistles and docks as these seem to be almost unkillable. 

I wouldn't put any membrane under the raised beds, just under the paths.  It could be held down at the edges by the structures for the raised beds and then a sufficient weight of gravel for the paths.  Two inches should do it.  Less is too thin and will allow weed seeds to germinate easily.   More is difficult to walk on and push wheel barrows.  

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