Latest posts by Obelixx

Does putting slate on your pots help keep the soil moist?

Posted: 17/07/2016 at 13:12

I use pea gravel, small pebbles, expanded clay pellets or chipped bark depending on what is in the pot and how big it is.   They certainly help lessen moisture evaporation and look a lot better than bare soil or compost and weeds that inevitably try to invade.

Haven't tried slate because I haven't seen it on sale here but I suspect it would look good under plants like Japanese maples in pots.   Wouldn't put it with hostas as slugs could lurk so easily under it.

Bad year for raspberries

Posted: 17/07/2016 at 00:38

Our autumn rasps aren't ready yet but the redcurrants were very good and the rhubarb has really enjoyed the weather.   Blackcurrants looking good so far but the birds have had the blueberries while we were away last week.  Tayberries and loganberries OK so far.   Purple gooseberries doing well and the strawberries have been tasty - when we got there before the slugs!

Just disappointing summer rasps.


Posted: 17/07/2016 at 00:21

Take away Chinese for dinner here as we got back from our week in the Vendée too late to shop and cook.   It was bad apart from the Peking duck but I knew it would be.  Last night's meal in Avrillé was pretty bad too - a first for us in France - so I'm really looking forward to proper home cooked leg of lamb tomorrow.  I've already fished it out of the freezer to thaw.

Such shocking news from Nice but the French media reports I saw indicate he was a suicidal loner who decided to take people with him - like that Lufthansa pilot.  Doesn't help the victims or their families to deal with it any better though.

Been watching UK political developments with great interest.   Upon the appointment of Boris to the foreign office, a former Belgian PM said it was good to see the British haven't lost their sense of humour.   Clever move either way.

Got home to find Possum hadn't watered my pots as well as they needed but only one plant looks really dodgy.    Huge mole hills in the lawn for OH to play with tomorrow and grass to cut, of course.  I find pruning/hacking therapeutic too so will go and check the roses and the wisteria which is probably ready for its summer haircut.

Haven't had time to read back a whole week but I trust all the sickies are off the sofa now and feeling better.

Bad year for raspberries

Posted: 16/07/2016 at 23:55

Loads of raspberries here but we've had so much rain for so long they taste watery.


Posted: 11/07/2016 at 14:48

Sitting in a car park in a "hotspot" near Luçon minding the dogs while OH tries to get us a temporary internet connection so we can receive emails form notaires and such.   I've texted him to find a paper too.

No news here as the gîte only has a few channels of French TV and that's either footie or dubbed US soaps as far as I can see.   Hopeless.  Everyone and everywhere seems subdued today............

Happy gardening all - assuming weather permits.   Bit muggy and grey here at the mo but blue bits around.

2016 - the year of the ant

Posted: 08/07/2016 at 15:46

Hire a flock of green woodpeckers?  

Ants like dry places so try giving your raised beds, compost heaps and greenhouse a regular thorough soaking so that they move elsewhere.   I'd just put up with them in the lawn but be careful where you sit or lie as they bite and it hurts.

To get rid of ants, you have to kill the entire colony in one thorough move or they just disperse and set up several small new colonies....

I'd just put up with them in the lawn but be careful where you sit or lie as they bite and it hurts. 

Hedges and Raised Beds

Posted: 08/07/2016 at 13:06

I wouldn't bother with raised beds - lots of work and investment and future maintenance.  It may be easier and more effective to string a decent wire mesh fence just inside your boundary and then plant borders or shrubs in front of that or train climbers such as roses or clematis or honeysuckle to soften it.

If you really do want a hedge, I would plant directly in the soil.  The best time to do this is the autumn when you can get cheap, single stem whips in bundles.   This will give you plenty of time to dig a trench and improve the soil with well rotted manure or cheap potting compost if you have no garden compost.

Evergreen plants will grow more slowly then deciduous but you should have a look at pyracantha which will have spring blossoms and autumn fruits and is very good for wildlife.   It also has thorns so will deter intrusions from the nasty neighbours.   If you keep it trimmed on the sides, it will thicken up nicely from the base.   Trim the top shoots back when about 12"/30cms below desired eventual height and the top will thicken up too.

Deciduous hedges grow much faster.  Hawthorn will do 6'/180cms in one season.  Keep it trimmed top and sides and it will thicken up and be a perfect haven for wildlife.   The thorns will deter intruders.   Copper beech is another alternative.  It keeps its old leaves through winter and they drop off in spring when the new growth starts so sort of evergreen and no thorns.

Hedges need regular trimming to keep neat but you need to wait till August when birds have finished raising their broods. If you intend to plant in front of it, make a path of slabs or chipped bark so you can access the hedge without damaging your plants.  

Don't worry about thorns and your toddler.  Explain what they are and teach her to play safe.  It worked with our daughter, now 21 and a survivor of hawthorn, holly and pyracantha hedges plus all sorts of plants in the garden.

Growing jasmine

Posted: 08/07/2016 at 12:40

There are two main types of jasmine - nudiflorum which is fully hardy in the UK and flowers in winter - yellow and no scent -  and officinalis which flowers in summer - white and scented - and is hardy except in exposed gardens in the UK.  There are some forms which are less hardy and need a conservatory for winter survival.

You need to get acquainted with the RHS website which has this comprehensive information on jasmine - https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=291  Follow the links for more info on particular named plants.

Coastal Perennial Plants

Posted: 08/07/2016 at 10:39

The RHS offers some advice on their site - https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=472

If you need salt tolerant plants then T&M have a useful ist too - http://www.thompson-morgan.com/plants-for-coastal-gardens 

Plants in pots will need sheltering from prevailing winds as they'll dry out very quickly.   My garden isn't coastal but is exposed and the pots I have out in the windier bits need far more watering than the others.

Picture Postcard Request

Posted: 08/07/2016 at 10:31

Hi DD - glad it's going well.  I posted a packet of them a week ago.  Did they arrive OK - Colchester, Flatford Mill, London and Gembloux.

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