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Latest posts by obelixx

Rhubarb in winter

Posted: 15/09/2015 at 14:11

Leave all the stems and leaves to die down naturally then remove them to a compost heap so they don't provide shelter for slugs over winter.   Pile on a mound of well rotted horse manure and/or well rotted garden compost to act as a winter mulch.  The worms will work it in over winter and the rhubarb roots will benefit from the extra nutrients.

Come spring, just as the first shoots start to nose their way out of the ground, scatter generously with blood, fish and bone or pelleted chicken manure and a few wildlife friendly slug pellets.   Crop the stems till mid July then leave the plants alone to rebuild their vigour for the following year.  Repeat as above in autumn and spring.

Once the plants are big enough to cope, you can cover one each spring to force the stems to make those lovely, juicy, tender pink stems.   Once harvested you then have to leave the plant to recover and then harvest the other in the usual way.  Alternate the one that gets forced each year so they have time to recover.

If your Victoria is really large, you could consider splitting it in autumn and replanting as 2 or 3 clumps.  They would need at least one whole season to recover and establish before you could force them.

Where to buy native plants/seeds?

Posted: 15/09/2015 at 14:06

Hardy geraniums, foxgloves, primroses, dog rose, short stemmed daffs, bluebells (not the Spanish ones), English lavender, heathers, cornflowers, corn cockles etc etc but you don't have to restrict yourself to natives for a good wildlife garden.

The RHS has recently reported on a 4 yr study of the relative benefits to wildlife of natives and imports and except for certain insects being very fussy about their feeding plants for their larvae, many imports are just as attractive for providing nectar, pollen and seeds for adult wildlife.

Have a look here - as it may widen the scope of your garden choices.

Natural Wind Barrier but not Sun Blocker Wanted!

Posted: 15/09/2015 at 10:07

Bamboo gets pretty tall and dense so would block sun.  

If your budget doesn't extend to glass panels, I think your best bet is to coppice that cornus next spring as Steephill advises.  If it does grow back too dense just thin out some stems or else just erect good strong trellis panels on posts buried in concrete and grow something in front.  Doesn't have to be attached so could be other shrubs or perennials.

is there anything i can plant now or should i just wait?

Posted: 15/09/2015 at 10:00

You can also sow some quick crops like radishes and pak choi and even spinach to get a crop before the frosts.

I've just had a mail from this site offering free p&p on seeds - 

One of a kind... or not?

Posted: 15/09/2015 at 09:08

If it is a stable change it is unlikely to come true from seed.  Better to keep the little offset bulbs and grow them on till big enough to flower.   

Iris Pseudacorus

Posted: 14/09/2015 at 18:20

Be careful what you wish for.  I was given a few of these plants when we dug out our new drainage pond which is about 7m by 4m.   It made a orld takeover bid so OH went in in his waders and puled it all up along with the bullrushes and the cows in teh pasture next door had a fine autumn feast.

I've had a couple of difficult years unable to garden cos of various surgeries and in that time they have come back and almost terraformed our pond.  It is on our list of jobs to get the lot out.   

Midwinter Fire.

Posted: 14/09/2015 at 17:22

I have found it fussier than other dogwoods but then again, when happy, it suckers like mad.  Doesn't usually take kindly to pruning, especially when getting established, but I got cross with one this summer and hacked it back hard and it has responded with lots of colourful new stems.   So has another in a small bed by our parking area. I half expected it to give up after a serious haircut this spring and it's come back very well.

Mine are in full sun in deep, neutral to alkaline loam - depending on the bed - over a layer of clay subsoil.   They get plenty of weather too as we're exposed to strong winds and can have very cold winters.



Hardiness of Shrubs

Posted: 14/09/2015 at 17:17

Parts of the Charente and Dordogne get -15C in January/Feb so can't assume an oleander will be OK outside.

Hardiness of Shrubs

Posted: 14/09/2015 at 11:35

That depends on how frosty your bit of the Dordogne gets in winter as it will only withstand very light frosts.    You could plant it in a sheltered spot and cover it with a couple of layers of garden fleece in winter to give an extra 2 or 3 degrees of protection.

Have a look here for info on the group of plants -  and here for more on named plants - 


Clay soil under membrane

Posted: 14/09/2015 at 10:17

How big an area is it?   Can you fork it over?   If so, try and source a large pile of well rotted compost - local council recycling? - or well rotted horse manure and lay it on thickly as soon as possible.  Fork it in lightly then leave it over winter for worms to work into the soil.

Autumn is the best time for planting shrubs while they are dormant above ground and can then concentrate their energy on putting out new roots over the winter.   You can plant through the mulched layer it adding extra soil conditioner to planting holes and some coarse grit to improve drainage and a handful of bonemeal or microrhizal fungi to help with root development.  Both available form good garden centres.

Water in and mulch with more soil conditioner.   Wait till spring to plant perennials but you can get some daffodils in now too.  Not tulips.  They don't like heavy clay.

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