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Latest posts by obelixx


Posted: 24/05/2014 at 14:18

A lot also depends on height.  If she's down in the valleys and in a town such as Sion it will get to about -20 at its coldest.  Up the mountain in the skiing villages it'll get to more like -25C or colder and I can't think of anything that will survive having its roots frozen in a pot at those temps, let alone look good through winter. and then

Posted: 23/05/2014 at 17:54

Well, the hard landscaping would be failry fixed but you could mess about with the planting schemes to extend the season of interest through the whole year but that would, of course, mean you wouldn't get the drifts of late spring and early summer plants we see at Chelsea as you'd have to reduce them to make way for others.

 If my garden was only big enough to fit a Chelsea garden I wouldn't want one but some of them could make a very nice feature in a larger garden and I could definitely cpe with some of the Artisan gardens.

As for the TV coverage, the only way to get that changed is for us all to write to Points of View and/or the heads of BBC1 and 2 programming and maybe the RHS about their TV coverage contract demanding more on plants and less time wasting on non gardening celebrities and constant repetition from a select few gardens and nursery stands - and please, presenters who know about plants and gardening.  There are some very competent, articulate gardeners out there so no need to ship in the Nikkis and her like..

Planting clematis

Posted: 23/05/2014 at 12:31

At this stage of the year and with group 2 clems I don't think they need pruning back but they do need very good soil preparation and a deep hole and a support ready to cling to.   Training the stems as horizontally or diagonally as possible helps with flowering vigour.

Put them in a bucket of water to make sure their compost is thoroughly wet until no more air bubbles escape.   Prepare a hole at least twice as deep as their pots and then mix some well rotted manure and/or garden compost and pelleted chicken manure into the soil.   Put some in the hole then plant the clematis at least 4inches/10 cmes deeper than they were in the pot.  Fill up the hole with the improved soil, firm in and water well.   Water regularly in their first summer.   Scatter on some slow release specialist clematis food at planting time and every spring.

Deep planting helps keep the roots cool and encourages extra stems to form for a bushier, healthier, more floriferous clematis.  It also helps them recover better should they get clematis wilt.   A good mulch of well rotted manure or garden compost every autumn will help protect the roots and keep them healthy over winter.

Yours are both group 2 for pruning which means they just need a light pruning after the first flush of flowers in June to remove any very old or dead stems to keep them tidy and invigorated.   Removing some of the spent flowers and giving them a good liquid feed at the same time will encourage them to produce a second flush of flowers in late summer. and then

Posted: 22/05/2014 at 22:44

There is nothing pretentious about Chelsea except maybe some of the people who go to be seen to be seen rather than to do or to learn or enjoy it for the plants and ideas.  At its heart it's all about plantsmen and women showing their skills and their range of plants and plantsmanship and generating business and jobs.   Some of the garden designs may be banal, some ludicrous and some sublime but none would be possible without the men and women who produce the plants that make up all the gardens and displays which nearly all have something we can take away and use or emulate or adapt in our own gardens.

AT is as down to earth as they come and has worked his way up through the horticultural ranks from being an apprentice at Ilkley parks department to Kew diplomas and has gained all sorts of gardening qualifications and accolades which have led to his VMH and the vice presidency of the RHS which all, with his career as a TV presenter in various guises, makes him an excellent presenter of Chelsea in particular and just about any gardening programming format.   He has also designed two gardens at Chelsea and won a gold medal and knows both the science and the art of plants and gardening.

Monty Don is basically a gifted amateur gardener who has been lucky enough to be able to use his garden as therapy and write about it in such a way that it gave him a living when other options failed.   He hasn't the breadth or the depth of knowledge or experience in plantsmanship or design of AT or Chris Beardshaw who has been a joy, and a relief, during this week's Chelsea programmes.   MD has been just OK so far this week but OK isn't good enough for such a prestigious, world class event and he lacks both the light touch and the gravitas of AT.   I am still baffled by the Beeb's decision to bring him in instead of AT.   

When to dig up my mixed bed?

Posted: 22/05/2014 at 20:59

Following 3 surgeries in 2 years my garden has been neglected and subsequently invaded by couch grass, creeping buttercup, nettles, thistles and other nasties.   Having recovered, I started at one end this spring and weeded as deeply and thoroughly as I could but where the weeds were entwined in the roots I dug up whole plants and bunged them into pots, buckets, troughs and old compost bags while I dug over and cleared the soil.   Then I had to tease throught the roots to fish out bits of invaders.   Dunking in water helps to work through fibrous roots without doing too much damage.

As I go, I split and repot in order to increase my stock and re-invigorate the plants then I bung some garden compost on eth newly bared bed and replant.   Time consuming but do-able and very satisfying.   It's a bit late to be lifting and dividing now but I'm still lifting and cleaning as I go and sometimes transplanting if they're late season performers and have time to recover before they should be flowering.

If you do just the cyclamen area now you'll be able to do other bits of the garden in autumn which is an excellent time for plants to grow new roots in soil that is still relatively warm compared to spring soils.   Bulbs aren't too fussy about being moved once flowering finishes but before they go dormant again.


Help needed

Posted: 22/05/2014 at 14:08

I was given one of these last September - described as hardy but only to -5C which is no good to me and my garden so I put it on a sunny windowsill and it grew about 3' in the next couple of weeks.   Started climbing the curtain so I pruned it back but it was determined to grow.

I've now found a home for it where there's a cool conservatory and room for it to thrive.


Posted: 22/05/2014 at 14:01

Look at what the neighbours have planted as they'll know what grows.   Most seem to have pelargoniums for summer but you'll need something else for winter and they'll have to cope with deep cold and snow so consult and buy local.

Clematis ID

Posted: 22/05/2014 at 12:14

I'd go with Ville de Lyon -

Pink champagne has more, and pointier, tepals - and then

Posted: 22/05/2014 at 12:02

When I first went to Chelsea in 1990 it was all rock banks and water courses and totally unrelated plants from several seasons all flowering at once.   Now it's much more about using seasonal plants in the show gardens hence the saminess of some of the planting schèmes with one or two particularly in favour each year.    This year it's anchusa and lysimachia Beaujolais.

Cleve West is a plantsman and combines them beautifully in his designs every year.  I can understand the design of his garden this year and his tribute to the origins of gardens as oases of calm and pleasure in a hostile dessert but I don't want one.   Chris Beardshaw is another all round designer and plantsman and his gardens are always covetable and inspirational.

Other garden deigners, Joe Swift included, are designers first who just use plants as decoration without really being gardeners who love and tend plants and gardens themselves.   I usually find their gardens clever or interesting or sometimes dreadful but they have no soul because it's about show not substance.   Garden rooms, not gardens for people, kids, dogs or the love of plants.

I find the coverage of Chelsea is very repetitive and limits itself to a few gardens and topics.  Given the air time and the number of presenters they could do each of the gardens and each of the nursery stands in the floral marquee and skip the celebs.   Leave them for the glossy mags.   Stick to the essentials of Chelsea - plants and plant combinations and design solutions we can adapt to our own gardens. and then

Posted: 22/05/2014 at 01:50

I've just got home after spending yesterday at Chelsea.  I enjoyed myself - lots of lovely plants, friendly co-visitors and a lovely atmosphere but I did find the designs of the main gardens very repetitive and lacking innovation.   Most even used the same plants and colour palette though in different ways.   Lots of irises, alliums, peonies, astrantias as usual and, this year, bright blue anchusas which I've sown for my own garden this year.   How did they know? 

My favorite main garden was the Help for Heroes because it felt right and was beautifully planted but had space to walk and sit and enjoy it.  The most sumptuous planting was the Stoke-On-Trent garden with cool whites, creams and greens at one end morphing into rich reds and bronzes at the other.   The Cloudy Bay garden had some luscious plant combintaions too but too many ornamental grasses dominating the other pants and masking the colours.  The First Touch garden had wonderful plant combinations and I felt the terracing using metal strips to hold the levels was do-able by ordinary gardeners and could be made curvy and softer and more sinuous if desired for both the terracing and the water pools.

The Laurent Perrier that won best in show had too much hard landscaping and to me felt too cool and hard and uninviting except for the one bed full of creamy lupins.   I like a garden to feel welcoming and fun.   The Daily Telegraph Italiniate garden was so neat and tidy and so refined and controlled it felt sterile.  AT's Britain in Bloom garden was very clever and I really liked the Yorkshire moors leading down to the beach but not so much the beach planting which was all too wussy to survive in my garden.   Beach hut to die for though.

The most ingenious designs this year were in the Artisans gardens - another wonderful Japanese garden but the best for me was the Potters' garden which was full of lovely touches from the use of a row of curved tiles in the kiln to make a pattern in the bricks to the plants growing on the roof tiles, the paths made from broken pots and the water butt plus some good planting. 

Lots of lovely stuff in the floral pavillion from stunning plants, flowers, fruit and veg to the Birmingham city steam train and aircraft  and the fun of the agricultural students' dress designs using plant material.    

I've come away with some great inspiration for plant and colour combos for adapting in my garden and some new lily bulbs, a few packs of seeds and 2 peony supports, 2 hanging baskets and a gekko.    Came home to find we'd had a major hailstorm last night and my prize hostas in pots have been shredded and other plants blown over so lots to check and fix tomorrow.

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