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Latest posts by obelixx

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.


Cornus Kousa

Posted: 29/08/2012 at 16:12

I think this year has been very bad for pollinating insects.  I have many friends whose apple and pear crops are nil because the blossom was frosted and we've all noticed fewer insects about, probably from lack of food earlier in the season and then too much cold and wet in spring and early summer.

There's always next year.  Gardeners have to be optimists.


Cornus Kousa

Posted: 29/08/2012 at 15:51

I seem to remember reading somewher that cornus kousa is not self fertile so you may get better fruit production of you can grow another one nearby.   If you haven't the space, then settle for what you get as the fruits are not edible and the foliage and flowering bracts are the main attraction of these plants. 

They are also insect pollinated so try growing other plants with nectar rich flowers to attract them.

Robinia Frisia - brown spotted leaves - treatment?

Posted: 28/08/2012 at 17:35

I don't think healthy plants need extra help aprt from maybe some Rootgrow at planting time.  This is a newish product which supposedly helps roots form sybiotic relationships with bacteria in the soil and this leads to improved root function and thus a healthier plant.

Look here for all you need to know about Gleditsia.  Sunburst seems to be the one for your requirements - 

The last two weeks here have been quite dry and my robinia is looking much better with fuller leaves so I will give it one more year and see how it goes but it's for the chop if we get another bad winter and another bad summer and it carries on looking tatty and sick.

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