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Latest posts by obelixx

Couch Grass

Posted: 31/10/2014 at 11:58

Defintely do not rotavate.  It will just make hundreds and thousands of cuttings as the roots are really persistent and grow again form the tiniest bit.   

Do as advised and spray again in spring when any new growth starts but let it get a couple of inches high before spraying or there won't be enough green foliage to transport the active compounds back to the roots.   Be patient, even if it takes a couple of months and several applications.   It will be worth it.

When you do eventually dig, use a fork rather than a spade as this will produce fewer cut pieces and allow you to wrestle more or less whole roots out of the ground.    Leave these aside on a plastic sheet so they can dry out and die over a week or two before putting them anywhere near a compost heap or trying to burn them.

What to plant under a tree?

Posted: 31/10/2014 at 10:48

I agree with the others about planting a more attractive tree as this one will get huge and will require regular attention from a tree surgeon to keep it under control and that will add up financially.  It will also self seed all over the place and need constant vigilance in your borders.

Have a look at liquidambar whiich will grow tall but not wide and has fabulous foliage colours or forms of rowan which and will give foliage interest but also blossom and berries which are good for wildlife

Purple Carrots

Posted: 31/10/2014 at 10:38

It's revolutionary stuff Philippa.   All to do with the Dutch revolting against the Spanish and becoming independent in the late 1500s.   I fond this on the web:

When a man named William the Silent from Nassau inherited the rule in Orange in 1544, he became William of Orange. He led the Dutch in Revolt against the Spanish in the late 1500s, and they eventually won their independence in the form of the Dutch Republic.

Back then the Dutch were known as carrot farmersand you could get their carrots in white or yellow or purple. Then in the 17th century a breed of carrot was developed that had a lot of beta-Carotene and was orange. And the Dutch started growing this in great abundance in tribute to William of Orange to such a degree that almost all other forms of carrot had gone out of mass agricultural production.

Purple Carrots

Posted: 30/10/2014 at 21:35

Carrots have always been purple and yellow and so on.  They became predominantly orange when the Dutch, who grow a n awful lot of them in their  sandy soils, concentrated on that colour in honour of their Prince of Orange.

The purple, and other heritage varieties, do have more flavour than modern orange ones bred for uniformity and colour rather than flavour.




Can I save this tree?

Posted: 30/10/2014 at 16:23

Cedar is a conifer which means it isn't going to sprout new branches from brown wood and so yours is never going to balance itself with new growth and will always look odd.

Cedars can live for centuries and grow really huge and majestic so I would think yours has some sort of problem that allowed such a young specimen to be so badly damaged as recent storms haven't been exceptional in their strength.    

Bite the bullet, get rid and plant something else in its place but make sure you get the ground preparation right to give it the best start possible.

What to plant under a tree?

Posted: 30/10/2014 at 14:05

Do it when thetree is dormant so any time after leaf fall and before the sap starts rising again towards the end of January.  Do it on a day when frost is not forecast so the wound can heal before frost damages the cells. 

Cut off the main weight of heavier branches about a foot/30cms from the trunk and then remove the final piece neatly, close to the trunk.   This technique should avoid tearing the bark and causing damage which can't heal. 

You can buy a pruning saw quite cheaply.   The Wolf tool system is good as you can buy different tool heads and handle lengths as and when you start to need them without breaking the bank all in one go.   Good quaity too.

Ground warming - good idea?

Posted: 30/10/2014 at 10:34

Well rotted manure has lots of nutrients.  Garden compost has lots of fibrous material and micro organisms.  If you haven't got a handy stables nearby you can buy bagged manure in good garden centres and large DIY chains.  Some local councils sell compost from teh municipal heap.  Ordinary potting compost is good too if you"re emptying pots and troughs.  Some places sell their stock off cheap at the end of the season.

What to plant under a tree?

Posted: 30/10/2014 at 10:27

Astilbes need quit a lot of moisture so I wouldn't put them in dry soil under trees but you can plant some daffs - small ones such as Tête-à-tête or Minnow would do well for early season colour then follow with bluebells and let the geraniums take over for the rest of the year.    Some ferns such as dryopteris would add height and form and cyclamen are a very good idea and in flower now so a good season extender.   Just make sure they're not swamped by the bigger stuff as their foliage is beautiful but  very low to the ground. 

Something esle you could consider is removing the lower branches of the sycamore to improve light and allow more rainfall to get to the plants under it.

What to plant under a tree?

Posted: 30/10/2014 at 09:17

I have just underplanted some trees in my garden with a mix of geranium phaeum and saxifrage London Pride.

The geranium will spread happily and has purple blotches on its foliage and small purple flowers in spring which are attractive to bees and hoverflies.   There is also a version with white flowers.   Geranium dalmaticum has evergreen foliage and clear pale pink flowers.  Geranium macrorhizum has scented foliage which goes red in winter and flowers can be white, pink or deep purpley pink.

The saxifrage will also spread but give a low mat of foliage in glossy rosettes with thin spikes of small fluffy flowers later in the season - if all goes to plan.

Hydrangea Pruning

Posted: 30/10/2014 at 09:04

Yes, you can control its size but you need to know what type it is as that affects pruning time and extent.  Get it wrong and you'll get no flowers.

Mopheads and lace caps flower on stems produced the previous year and before so you could start by taking out one third of the stems in spring after the worst frosts, taking cuts at regular intervals to keep the shrub balanced inshape.  This will encourage it to start early, producing new stems for the following year.  Give it a good general feed and an instant tonic of liquid rose or tomato food to encourage healthy new growth with good flower power. 

Once flowering finishes on the remaining stems, take them all back as far as you need to get the size you want, bearing in mind that new growth will make it bigger again. 

If you have the paniculata type with large, cone-shaped flowers they flower on new wood and can be pruned back hard in late Feb or March depending on how cold your winter is.   Again, give them a good feed to encourage good growth.

This is what the RHS advises - 

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