Roy Hill

Latest posts by Roy Hill

christmas soon

Posted: 31/10/2013 at 21:41
Stacey Docherty wrote (see)

Oh Diana's what a fab idea

Half jokingly - I can 'do' bags of larch needles if anyone wants a supply!


They don't compost very easily

Legionnaires desease in compost

Posted: 03/10/2013 at 23:32

Out of interest the Beeb reported the  on October 1st - before the Daily Mail.

Pathogens (anything that can cause disease) are everywhere. Gardeners and agriculture use them extensively (a subset of 'biological controls'). Some pathogens are favourable to gardeners/horticulture as they provide 'breaks' in new sports of plants.

Fidgetbones? Peat is  a recycled product, but it is one which takes a long time to get from the original state to something which resembles that which comes in a plastic bag from the garden centre. Extraction exceeds creation. I've walked around some old peat workings and they are not pretty sights (even after remedial action).

Legionnaires desease in compost

Posted: 03/10/2013 at 22:53

Boater - for more info on Pontiac fever?


I think the hpa may be a more reliable source. According to the hpa "Pontiac fever is a mild flu-like illness caused be legionella bacteria, often affecting previously healthy and young individuals. Symptoms can include fever, headaches and muscle aches but, unlike Legionnaires' disease, Pontiac fever does not cause pneumonia.  The illness will usually clear up without treatment within two to three days."

Sounds to me that Pontiac fever is nowhere near as dangerous/serious as Legionaires' disease.

(The HPA link was thrown up via a quick Google using "Pontiac fever" as a seaqrch phrase. The HPA could be considered more, um, reliable. The HPA article on Pontiac Fever mentions four separate species of Legionella bacteria. Their ;ink for Legionnaires is )


Braconid wasps, Pieris sp. caterpillars and brassicas

Posted: 26/09/2013 at 22:54

Update on the nasturtiums. The plants were totally ravaged by the caterpillars. The wee beasts departed. Not a nasturtium leaf in sight, a few very ragged flowers and well grazed stems.

Barely 2 weeks later and the plants are bouncing back very rapidly, feeding off the root system that they developed before the top growth was 'repurposed'. Fresh leaves, new flowers. The only thing that will stop the nasturtiums now is a frost. I may get to mix a few bright, peppery flowers with a late salad.

Talkback: Red kites

Posted: 26/09/2013 at 22:40
Common buzzard are also becoming common again. I've had a nesting pair not far from my house and the mewing, soaring and thermal-riding of the parents & offspring are a pleasant sound and sight.

Regarding mobbing of avian predators by smaller birds - it happens a lot. I once witnessed a goshawk being chased by several vocal blackbirds and have seen a pair of spars (sparrowhawks) being mobbed by feeding sand martins. Spars are quick and maneouverable in places where there is tree cover, but are fair game for the even quicker martins when caught out in the open. The spars retreated to their speciality habitat. Crows also mob buzzard, even though the buzzard isn't necessarily a direct predator. However, buzzard (and kite) are direct competition. Seeing a buzzard getting fed up with the mobbing is another good sight - a quick 'flip' upside-down, talons skyward and the crow in pursuit beats a hasty retreat.

Rumour from a year or two back was that kite were spreading toward this part of the country. I've not seen one yet, but fingers crossed.

rampant hebe

Posted: 26/09/2013 at 22:17

Hebe was the Greek goddess of youth. Old hebe plants never quite recover their early vigour. A well-named group of plants.

I have found that small-leaved species of hebe respond to pruning rather better than large-leaved species.


Posted: 26/09/2013 at 21:47

Someone said an axe? I've become quite attached to my mattock. It has been put to use on goat willow roots. You can get a good 'swing' with that tool and re-sharpening it is as 'precision' as an axe. As a tool it is also very good at digging impromtu trenches, hacking through small roots and a host of other jobs. With an axe you get one blade - with a mattock you get two.

Bargain of the year

Posted: 13/09/2013 at 00:20

Bargain of the year? The offers which GW and T&M trotted out earlier this year. I've had to pot up module grown stuff, but I dodn't have anything to 'do' cuttings from.

Twenty-four Hidcote and twenty-four Munstead.  The roots are outside the fibre pots they were transplanted in to. I have the space to accomodate them.

Although not an obvious 'bargain' I'll also mention the paperwhite bulbs which await planting for indoors. £2.50 for five fat bulbs; scent and colour will be delivered in the darker days of the year. I just have to resist the temptation of planting them up now.

Braconid wasps, Pieris sp. caterpillars and brassicas

Posted: 13/09/2013 at 00:09

Waterbutts - Lab tests only cover what they were specified to do.


This could rapidly diverge away from gardening. Is this being discussed elsewhere?

Privets that wont grow

Posted: 12/09/2013 at 23:40

Trickyh78 - it can be enlightening to escavate the soil; hard work, but enlightening. I have found sections of wall where there has been no wall that I knew of. In the garden of a 'new build' house I even found a pneumatic drill bit. I've got sections of terraced garden in the place where I live now, and the back-fill of the terracing has sections of rubble with voids. The terracing has been in place for maybe 3 decades. You always find surprises in gardening

I'd cut those privet back hard (look for dormant buds near the base of the woody structure) and give them a good feed of something. Pelleted chicken manure, anything. They may come through, they may not. In my books on hedges - make sure the ground is thoroughly prepared. That could mean quite a bit of digging and other preparation for what is 'only a hedge' in some peoples' minds (although I do not assume you are one of them!). Most hedges don't necessarily flower, but a hedge is a long-term feature/structure and you don't want to be trying to replant it every year. It isn't summer bedding. In many ways, a hedge can be a longer surviving feature than a brick wall (let alone a fence).

Ragarding pruning - do you still have a local library? If so, there may be some good books on the shelf which give pictorial demonstrations/examples (a picture being worth however many words). RHS publications are worth a read. I think they do (or have done) a thin tome on training and pruning, with a lot of info condensed into a relatively small book.

Good luck with the hedge.

Discussions started by Roy Hill

Living with honey fungus

Replies: 3    Views: 1694
Last Post: 31/10/2013 at 23:09

Braconid wasps, Pieris sp. caterpillars and brassicas

Large white caterpillars and nasturtiums 
Replies: 4    Views: 1198
Last Post: 26/09/2013 at 22:54

Talkback: Lawns and insects

Can I just say - I very much enjoyed reading that. Not all lawns need to be bowling greens. What you say about utility grassed areas is so t... 
Replies: 2    Views: 786
Last Post: 22/08/2013 at 16:31

Talkback: Pond dipping for wildlife

Pond skaters are also a top predator in their own right. Diving beetles (so many species)? They do have this habit of using their neather re... 
Replies: 0    Views: 803
Last Post: 18/07/2013 at 23:56

Talkback: Growing rosebay willowherb

Do some moth larvae still like the leaves? 
Replies: 1    Views: 807
Last Post: 17/07/2013 at 13:26
5 threads returned