Shrinking Violet

Latest posts by Shrinking Violet

Too early for beans?

Posted: 23/05/2014 at 21:38

Here in West Somerset where it is very mild, I planted my hardened off beans (Runners and Climbing French) last week.  Even so, with cold winds, I fleeced them for a couple of nights, and they seem to be doing very well, even though a couple of the leaves show signs of cold!  

Employment Law

Posted: 22/05/2014 at 19:51

ACAS are incredibly helpful in all sorts of queries about employment law.  Check them out at and follow the links.  You can phone them - and speak to a real person who will be very helpful.

Chelsea Flower Show

Posted: 21/05/2014 at 21:47

I have missed AT this year.  Monty has come good, as they say, in GW - he seems to be at ease in his own garden, and it shows.  But he is rather out of his comfort zone, it seems to me, as a presenter. 

It's a few years since I last went to Chelsea - and agree that the crowds are a problem.  You see more of the gardens on TV than you do on site.  But the atmosphere can't be as good in your living room as it is at the show!

I remember buying a few plants at the sell-off, and they were disappointing.  Better, I think, to note what you want, and buy at the nursery or order from a reputable supplier.  After all, the plants at Chelsea have been stressed to perform for a few particular days, and by the time you get them home, they are even more stressed!



Wasps nest

Posted: 18/05/2014 at 22:22

When I had a nest about the size of a grapefruit in my summerhouse, I stood and observed:  wasps are fascinating creatures, and they would fly back, walk around the edge of the nest, disappear inside, and then re-appear to add to the "papery" structure.  Having established that there were about a dozen wasps. I got my vacuum cleaner, and as each one returned to the nest, I vacuumed it up, and waited for the next one.  (You will gather that this was not a speedy exercise!!!)

After a while, when I thought that most, if not all, of the wasps had met their demise, I vacuumed the whole nest, to find two nursery wasps inside, and cells of larvae ready to pupate.  These were easy to dispose of.

Job done.  Each year I keep a close eye on the summer house, and at the first sign of nest building, I destroy it. 

Hope this helps  -  a bit of time and care sorted the potential problem without chemicals or expensive pest-controllers.

All Things Bright and Beautiful

Posted: 13/05/2014 at 15:49

It's not often that you laugh at a funeral - but we did today at the funeral of a dear friend.  He loved (and had been trained in) all things horticultural, and his allotment was an example of perfection.  That probably had something to do with his career in the army after the gardening training.

The hymn that had us all smiling (including the Rector) was a spin on All Things Bright and Beautiful.  I don't know where the words originated - but I've told OH that I want this at my demise!  Hope it brings smiles to many faces - and there may be someone out there who knows from whence it came.

All things bright and beautiful

All creatures great and small.

All things wise and wonderful

The Lord God made them all.


But what we never mention

Though gardeners know it's true

Is when he made the goodies,

He made the baddies too!


All things spray and swattable

Disasters great and small.

All things paraquatable

The Lord God made them all.


The fungus on the goosegogs,

The club root on the greens,

The slugs that eat the lettuce

And chew the aubergines!


All things spray and swattable . . .


The fly that gets the carrots,

The wasp that eats the plums,

how black gardener's outlook,

Though green may be his thumbs!


All things spray and swattable . . .


But still we gardeners labour

midst vegetables and flowers

And pray what hits our neighbours

Will somehow bypass ours.


All things bright and beautiful,

All creatures great and small.

All things wise ad wonderful

The Lord God made them all.


(Sorry about the double spacing - I can't seem to do it any other way)

btw the original hymn was penned in the nearby village of Dunster - so its inclusion today seems doubly apt.


What can I do with my spring flowering bulbs?

Posted: 08/05/2014 at 19:17

I also grow my spring bulbs in containers.  Feed them with tomato fertiliser and let them die back naturally.  You can either leave them in the container or place them in a trench or pot, covered with soil/compost while they gradually die down.

What I have found works well is (1) label them!  You think you'll remember what they are but . . .  (2) remove the dead foliage and put the bulbs into the legs of old tights.  Don't pack them in too tightly, but then hang them up (an airy cool shed or garage is ideal) and the air will circulate and prevent mould forming on the bulbs.  Then, in the autumn, they can be re-planted. 

Be aware that some tulips are better at this than others.  Queen of the Night is, I believe, rather difficult to keep year on year - and I've never had real success with it.  But Negrita, also a dark burgundy/black is more likely to succeed.


Good luck!

Best Compost 2013

Posted: 02/05/2014 at 22:35

I bought three Levington's MP compost this year, and was bitterly disappointed.  In fact, I was so upset that, having had to sieve it all to make it usable, I sent a letter of complaint (and samples of sieved-out twigs/grit/glass/stones etc).  They replied and graciously sent me a voucher for other products, assuring me that they were looking into sourcing material for compost that would overcome such problems.  But it has been hard work trying to make the compost fit for purpose!

Grow Wild - Campaign to get UK people to grow more native wild flowers

Posted: 30/04/2014 at 19:33

Jim - thanks for that!  Like I said - it all got me thinking, hence my words of caution - no more, no less.

You obviously have a lot more knowledge than I (and, presumably, GG) so I'd be interested to look at your thesis some time.  Assuming of course that I could get to grips with it! 

(No - not a sarcastic reference or a criticism - honestly, I would value extra info on the subject)

btw I live in a village that had a new road/housing development. recently.  "They" decided that a "wildflower" planting would enhance the village.  But they actually meant (or the Orchard Committee meant, but no-one else seemed to understand) a seed mix of wildflowers and annuals, to prolong the flowering season.  But they (committee, council and all other numpties) didn't seem to comprehend that such planting required quite a bit of annual maintenance, the use of chemicals on a grand scale and that it was not entirely suitable for the location.

Today we have vast weed verges, a few unloved apple seedlings (hence the Orchard committee's involvement) and no-one taking responsibility for what is a total mess. 

(Perhaps now you see my concern about "wild flower planting" without proper understanding etc.  And I don't claim proper understanding!)

Grow Wild - Campaign to get UK people to grow more native wild flowers

Posted: 30/04/2014 at 15:11

I absolutely take your point Peanuts - I was just offering a word of caution given the article I had read.  And thanks, Obelixx for posting the link.

I hope that there are lots more wild flowers in the country as a whole - and I hope that there isn't too much disappointment if some are less easy to germinate than others.

Like I said in my post - it certainly was an article that got me thinking!





Grow Wild - Campaign to get UK people to grow more native wild flowers

Posted: 29/04/2014 at 22:48

May I offer a word or two of caution?  There was an interesting article on just this subject in the Weekend section of the Daily Telegraph last Saturday, written by Germaine Greer.

She is extremely knowledgeable and points out that many of the wild flower seeds require diverse habitats.  Throwing a mixed pack of seeds in one place is likely to cause disappointment, since cornflowers, corn cockles and corn marigolds, for example, require different conditions from hedge bedstraw or red campion.  The clue is in the name - and she urges caution, suggesting it would be more beneficial, perhaps, to persuade local authorities to be less cavalier with the clearance of roadside verges etc. if we really do want to encourage wild flowers.

I love to see them - but her article certainly got me thinking.

Sorry - I don't know how to do a link to the actual article, but hopefully it is still available on-line.





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1 to 15 of 17 threads