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Latest posts by obelixx

Anyone else get slightly "rare" bird visitors?

Posted: 13/05/2015 at 08:45

No greenfinches for several years and no goldfinches here at all but we have had more chaffinches than previous years and the usual assorted blue, great and marsh tits, house and tree sparrows, assorted small brown jobs including warblers and dunnocks and wrens, robins, blackbirds, turtle doves, greater spotted woodpeckers and, recently, jays who come in the day time and not just at dawn.

We used to get magpies but, touch wood, not for the last couple of years although we get crows now and there's a pair of jackdaws trying to build their nest on our central heating boiler's chimney pot.   There are moorhens and mallards and Egyptian and Canada geese and herons in the stream bordering our boggy paddock across the road.  I am told there are snipe but haven't seen them.   We get great egrets in winter and little egrets in summer and there are barn owls and buzzards in the woods across the paddock next door and we get occasional sparrowhawks swooping in.

Our main bird feeders are in the veggie plot behind the kitchen window but in winter I hang extra peanut and fat ball feeders along the edge of the terrace so I can see the birds from the sofa in the living room.   This morning I have put out dried insects for the first time.  It remains to be seen how long it will take before the birds spot them or if we get new visitors.

The Great Chelsea Garden Design Challenge

Posted: 13/05/2015 at 08:33

I'm enjoying it so far.  They do make interesting point about horticultural knowledge and, even tho it's a show garden, understanding what plants will do in the coming year and making sure they're suitably placed.

I was rather amazed at their being given £1000 to spend on plants for a 3 x 4 metre plot.  That's half my front bed and easily 5 times more than I've spent on filling it with roses and clematis and an acer Sango Kaku and alliums and daffs and ground cover geranium macrorhizum and a box hedge to contain it all.  

On the other hand, the box was grown slowly from cuttings and the roses were small, bare rooted jobs and the geraniums are mostly divisions and I haven't had to build and fill in just 3 or 4 days.

I suspect from mistakes being made that some of the competitors have never bothered to watch Chelsea coverage as they would have known about following the  brief, using their landscapers well, not leaving bare soil or having roots showing and pouring gravel in last and not making silly, avoidable mistakes.

Anyway.  Good programme.  I could listen to James A-S talk for hours and in this format Joe Swift is tolerable and even quite useful.   Jury's out on Anne-Marie so far.  

coffee & tea

Posted: 13/05/2015 at 08:21

Ca you set up a micro-climate like that of Brazil?  Or Kenya/Guatemala/Costa Rica?  And have you any idea how tall a coffee bean tree gets before it bears fruit?   

Tea may be easier as the camellia bush is lower growing and kept low by constant picking of the new leaf shoots that make the tea.  Good quality acidic soil, water with rainwater only, no frosts and no early morning sun when it has been cold should do the trick. 

Any tips to reduce the ant population?

Posted: 12/05/2015 at 22:27

If I do find aphids in great numbers, I squish them with my fingers or blast them off with spray from the hosepipe.  It pays to wait for the ladybirds and hover flies and birds to come and eat them.

Ants do farm aphids for their sugar secretions to feed their own babies so deal with the ants and you'll reduce your aphid problem.


Posted: 12/05/2015 at 20:29

Just feed the birds all year so they treat your garden as home.   They will feed insect larvae and caterpillars and aphids to their young because they need the moisture content and easily accessible proteins to grow.

I have never used insecticides in this garden and my daughter, now 20, was never stung by bees.   Bitten by mozzies and horse flies because we have cows next door and horses opposite in marshy pastures but not by garden insects.

The only pesticides I use are wildlife friendly slug pellets round hostas, clems and baby veggies.


Any tips to reduce the ant population?

Posted: 12/05/2015 at 20:19

As Edd says, lots of water as they like dry soils and pots.

Failing that, there are smells they loathe and that make them move on.  Ty watering bad spots with a solution of one small bottle of essential oil of cloves in 10 litres of water and pour that over the affected plant or area.

You can get the oil of cloves at pharmacies and health shops.


Posted: 12/05/2015 at 18:50

The soap is to give it a consistency which sticks to the pest or plant.   Personally, I don't trust any pesticide to be selective and only kill pests so prefer to let the birds hoover up the aphids and caterpillars or else cover with fine mesh or fleece to keep the pests away.  

That way bees, hoverflies, ladybirds and other good guys are safe to do their work.

Wisteria help

Posted: 12/05/2015 at 17:41

I rather think you just need one to go over your front door and cover your front wall.

Have a look at these - 

Repotting - a word to the wise

Posted: 12/05/2015 at 14:07

Met too.  Huge hosta Sum ans Substance which I had to butcher with an old bread knife to get it out.  The good thing though is I got 9 fabulously healthy plants growing very well with big leaves.  Some given to special gardening friends, some sold at a charity plant fair and 3 spare left for me to play with.

The pot now houses a rose that wasn't doing too well in the border but is loving life in its big ceramic pot in a sunny, sheltered spot.

Wisteria help

Posted: 12/05/2015 at 11:43

They are both planted very close to a brick wall so their soil will be dry as a bone and they will be struggling to thrive.

I suggest you trim off the blackened part of the stem cutting back below it to the next pair of branching stems and then water them generously (10litres each) at least once a week and more frequently in hot spells  all this summer until their roots have had time to develop and grow down to find moisture.   Give them feeds of tomato food to encourage formation of flowering buds for next year and each successive year.

Check out the RHS website for cultivation and pruning of wisteria to encourage flower formation - 

Discussions started by obelixx


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