Shrinking Violet

Latest posts by Shrinking Violet

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Too close for comfort

Posted: Yesterday at 20:11

The house martin nest was attacked by a sparrow hawk a few weeks ago - unsuccessfully, I'm pleased to say.

Today, I looked into the kitchen from the end of the garden, and there was a large bird, frantically trying to escape.  I went inside, expecting a pigeon/collar dove.  It was a sparrow hawk, that had obviously swooped for the house martins again or one of the birds on the feeder, and flown into the kitchen through the open door.

Now, they are very handsome birds indeed - but the wicked talons and sharp beak do not warrant too much human interference, so OH was called for (well, shouted for tbh) and between us we managed to open the kitchen window and encourage the bird to escape.  Job done.  Not.

OH returned upstairs, this time to call for my assistance.  A juvenile goldfinch was trapped in the office.  We can only assume that it flew through the kitchen door and escaped the sparrow hawk by flying upstairs.  At least it didn't have razor-sharp talons, and gradually, despite its distress, we managed to get it to fly out through and open window.

Now that's nature up close and personal. 

And after it was all over, OH suggested that it was remiss of me not to have grabbed the camera to take a photo!

sticky problem with house plant

Posted: 14/06/2017 at 22:54

The plant looks very much like a Schleffera.  I have one and it, too, became infested with scale insects.  I have just about got this under control using two methods:  firstly, when I noticed the infestation a few months ago, I drenched the pot with a Provado solution.  This is more often used to try to control vine weevils, but the pack says it is also effective for scale insects.

There was some success, although it didn't eradicate them, so my second way of getting rid of them has been to wipe every single leaf with surgical spirit (and washing it off + dead scales a day or so later). 

So far so good.  But I shall have to be vigilant.  Past experience has shown that these pests are persistent.

Peter Seabrook

Posted: 12/06/2017 at 22:34

He was a lovely presenter.  I have a knitting pattern from a magazine circa 1980 that was "Peter Seabrook's favourite sweater" (or words to that effect).  It's a timeless design that I have used on many occasions, but it makes me chuckle to look at the photo and description after all this time. 

Come to think of it - I think it was Family circle magazine, which was full of tips and remedies from cookery, knitting and gardening back in the day.  A bit old-fashioned today.  Peter Seabrook was as close as it got to a "celebrity".

Tomato plant deformity 2016

Posted: 06/06/2017 at 20:22

So sad to hear that a company has still not resolved these issues.  It is not just the value of the compost material per se but the loss of a complete crop for this growing year, for which there is no monetary value (certainly not, it would seem, in the company's eyes). 

The industry was (or maybe was just "due to be") regulated.  Perhaps we need some big hitters to try to sort this out, once and for all.  So GW could lend a hand, maybe.  Or Which?  Or maybe The BBC programme Watchdog.

Clearly each individual who complains is treated as just that -  an individual. 

Greenhouse Shading Alternatives

Posted: 28/05/2017 at 22:15

I can't think that emulsion (weak or not) would be a very good idea.  The netting is easily available from GCs.  We discussed this last year on the board  - and I had found that a shower curtain rod stretched inside the GH was perfect for using to drape shading over.  I've done it again this year, using fleece, which is lightweight and easily moved on dull days. 

Swallows, swifts and martins - have you seen them yet?

Posted: 27/05/2017 at 19:58

Well - it's been traumatic this afternoon, and I thought we'd lost a couple of the house martins!  Sitting in the garden, I looked up as there was a sudden flurry of large wings by the nests in the eaves.  My first thought was a pigeon or dove - but as it flew away (briefly stopping on a nearby flat roof) it was sharper in definition with different wing markings.  It all happened so suddenly and so unexpectedly that I didn't take it all in.  But I feared it must have been a raptor - probably a sparrow hawk.

All was quiet in and around the nest for the afternoon.  No chattering.  No swooping back and forth.  No squabbles between various house martins.  But as I sat down to my laptop, the nests - about 3ft away from my upstairs window - suddenly seemed to burst into life!  They are chattering at each other, and perhaps it's been nothing more than a scare.

But could it have been a sparrow hawk?  Would they risk trying to get a bird from so awkward a site?  Is this predator behaviour that has been seen by others?

Chelsea 2017

Posted: 26/05/2017 at 20:57

Re-reading my post I can see that it is, at best, ambiguous.    What I meant was that, having seen that Chris Beardshaw got the well-deserved people's award, I turned the tv off.  And I agree that he probably deserved a gold.  He was robbed!

Chelsea 2017

Posted: 26/05/2017 at 20:41

Perhaps we should be careful about what we wish for.  Those of us of a certain age will recall that once upon a time, Chelsea warranted little more than an extended Gardeners' World programme.  As times have changed, the coverage has become more extensive (in terms of hours of TV at least).  But perhaps it's the old adage:  more is less.  I feel that the coverage has become repetitive and spread thinly, with time wasted with fillers (how to crystallise edible flowers tonight.)  Nicky Chapman wittering.  C'lebs pontificating.  Fortunately, my telly has an off switch, which, having seen the proper Best in Show (People's Award) given to Chris Beardshaw, was more than enough for me.

Some will doubtless enjoy it all, so fair play to them. 

Cheap Gardening

Posted: 26/05/2017 at 16:11

Just to show that I practise what I preach - I have today finished creating an alpine border.  The soil is a mix of new topsoil and lots (and lots) of horticultural grit, with a pea gravel top dressing.  The plants are sitting there looking comfortable. 

Three saxifrages were, having finished flowering, not looking particularly attractive (ie they were not the horticultural eye-candy that GCs place prominently to get punters to buy) good, healthy plants, and from three pots I have split them to create six plants.  I could have been even more parsimonious had I chosen, but I have high hopes of what I have done. 

Time will tell.

Chelsea 2017

Posted: 25/05/2017 at 19:45

So true Dove - and I'm one of the "don't".  It took me ages to get over Tracy Emin's bed as art.  Oh, well - perhaps I'm just an unreconstructed fuddy duddy!  (and you heard it here first, folks )

1 to 10 of 888

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Too close for comfort

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