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Latest posts by obelixx

patio with circular bed

Posted: 31/08/2012 at 15:21

If it's a sunny site and well drained, think about lavenders such as Hidcote or Munstead Dwarf - grey foliage, blue flowers, perfume and magnets for bees.   They can be kept compact by pruning back once flowering finishes cutting about an inch into the new foliage growth.

For more colour, look at lonicera nitida which has a golden form or euonymus Emerald and Gold which has green and gold variegated foliage.  There's a cream and green version too.  Consider also dwarf conifers which can come in a range of colours including glaucous blue, bronze and gold.   They respond well to regular trimming for a low hedge.  I have one with blueish foliage with a fine white bar in the needle.  Don't know the variety though.

Pruning Buxus

Posted: 31/08/2012 at 15:10

I have done them as late as the last week of July but wouldn't leave it later than that as any new growth hasn't time to ripen and harden before the winter frosts and the plants can get badly damaged.


Posted: 31/08/2012 at 15:07

I have a second hand greenhouse, also 8'x6', which we first built against the back wall of the house where I have water and electricity plumbed in for outside use.  Unfortunately, as it is north facing, the sun didn'tget there till 3pm and light levels were very poor so whilst it was good for storing dormant pots over winter it never produced decent tomatoes and I ended up having to move chillies into the kitchen to get them to ripen.

We have now rebuilt it in an area where it is in full sun most of the day but sheltered from prevailing winds on its west side by a 6' hedge and, in summer, by tall miscanthus and helenium lemon Queen to the south which mean I haven't had to do shade painting.  Despite cool temps and low light levels this summer we've managed some decent cucumbers and tomatoes and the chillies are looking good. 

What's the weather like in your area?

Posted: 31/08/2012 at 10:32

It is cold, dark, wet and windy here so no gardening today.   However, set to be warmer and sunnier and dry tomorrow so that's OK.

Gave up trying to grow sunflowers so, of course, I have a crop of them from the garden compost I spread on a newly cleared bed and also from the bird food.  Typical.

evergreen perenial border

Posted: 31/08/2012 at 09:09

Hardy geranium macrorhizum is evergreen except in very harsh winters and the scented foliage turns red in the cold.  Pale pink or white flowers in late spring are an added bonus.   I find that phlomis russelliana are evergreen thought they can look tatty in a very bad winter (but mine are worse than UK).  Thge leaves are a soft sage green and there are tall spikes of soft yellow flowers in early summer followed by interesting seed heads for birds and frosted winter interest.  It will spread if happy and will need controlling.

Hellebores are evergreen and have flowers in late winter/early spring which is when old foliage should be cut off to show the flowers and allow the new foliage through.  carex buchannaii is a bronze evergreen grass that will sway beautifully in teh wind and not spread madly.  It just needs combing through with gloved hands in spring. 

Don't just think of foliage either.  Russian sage will give aromatic blue/green foliage throughout the spring and summer plus blue flowers which insects love and then striking bare white stems in winter.   Cut these back every spring to promote new growth and maintain the colour and vigour.

As for giving you a plan, the best thing is to buy the plants you like and which will suit the soil and aspect and then place them in the border in their pots then move them around till you have pleasing combiations of toning or contrasting colour shape and form.  Definitely a good idea to match the planting in the pots for your bench as long as they will have equal sun and shade.   If not, plant to suit available light.

What to do with soil that's got coal in it

Posted: 31/08/2012 at 08:57

I recently visited a garden in Charleroi which has a lot of coal slack in its soil and the bottom end is almost completely coal slack and yet, with added compost, the owner has made a beautiful garden open under the Belgian Open Gardens scheme and has a prodcutive fruit and veg plot.

I suggest you prepare the soil in the usual way for new or revamped beds - dig it over well to open it up and than add plenty of garden compost and well rotted manure to improve it before planting.   Mulch with compost in subsequent years and Bob's your uncle.

French tarragon - getting it though the winter

Posted: 31/08/2012 at 08:49

I had French tarragon growing for years in a thick ceramic pot outside in a sheltered south facing spot.   It survived severe winters with and without snow blankets but did not survive the nasty frost last spring when everything was pumping sap and in the mood to grow.  Lost loads of stuff to that.

Your tarragon should be fine outside as long as it's in a well drained and sheltered spot.  I have now bought a new one from the herb section in the local supermarket but will be keeping it on my kitchen window sill for the winter and then trying it outside next spring after the worst of teh cold is over.

topiary box plants

Posted: 30/08/2012 at 15:53

It depends on how big you want the finished topiary to be but if they've been in those pots 4 years already I'd recommend potting them up a size or two so their roots can expand to carry more growth up top.  Do this every two years till they get to the size you need and feed them in between times.  You'll need patience.  I started some plants off as cuttings 2 summers ago and they're still tiny and have done hardly anything this year in the cold and wet although the ones that went to fill gaps in my box hedge have grown much better.

A decent sized box ball or column or pyramid needs a decent sized base to grow from but you can start clipping to shape quite early on to thicken it but always leave at least 2" of the new growth so it gets bigger each year.  Mid summer is the best time as box does most of its growing between spring and mid summer.

If you want to grow fancy forms you'll need to let the plants get much bigger before you start to shape them.   There's some useful info here - 


which veg garden planning methods do you use?

Posted: 30/08/2012 at 10:37

Jean - Not so much a rat as a smelly sock (puppet).

Clematis going yellow

Posted: 29/08/2012 at 16:23

We've had such a lot of rain this year that maybe nutrients have been leached from the soil and it is suffering mineral deficiencies.  Clematis like alkaline soils but still need iron and magnesium to function well so try giving it a liquid feed of iron rich food for ericaceous plants as an instant tonic.

You could also give it some calcified seaweed as a general tonic and a foliar spray of Epsom Salts - 2 tablespoons per gallon of water - which will give it magnesium.


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