Shrinking Violet

Latest posts by Shrinking Violet

Talkback: Frogs and toads in the garden

Posted: 14/04/2013 at 17:14

Frog has started croaking in the pond - no sign of him until yesterday.  I am in the "warm" southwest, but it has evidently been too cold even here for froggy to do his thing until now!  Hopeful for lots of spawn in the near future.

Blanket weed!

Posted: 14/04/2013 at 17:07

Blanket weed is the very devil to get rid of!  You can never eradicate it, in my experience, but the best thing is to try to keep on top of it.

First - use a stick to twirl it around (like trying to get candyfloss on a stick!) and dispose of the weed.  Then ensure that the pond is as clear of it as possible - and for this, yes, barleystraw bales are pretty good.  Also use watercress!  If you can get hold of proper watercress bundles (remember the bunches sold on market stalls?) chuck them in, and leave for a couple of weeks.  Dunno why or how it works - but it does!  Keeps the dreaded blanketweed at bay, and can easily be removed.  But even this is not a cure-all you still need to be vigilant, and the stick twirling may still be necessary.

Wild Garlic

Posted: 14/04/2013 at 16:55

If the flowers are yellow, then it's not the same.  However  . . . .

The trendy thing is to use "wild garlic" in some recipes.  A bit like the numerous Michelin stars awarded to the Danish restaurant (I think called "Noma").  Just be aware, that "on-trend" is not the same as viable.  Wild garlic is a weed in the domestic environment, best treated with glyphosate.  Trying to dig it out will result in the bulbils spreading like wildfire. 

Oh, and the much-famed Danish restaurant has had many problems of "tummy upsets" recently - so perhaps (!) foraging for wild stuff, especially if you don't know what you're doing, is not such a good idea!

Vistors had a party yesterday

Posted: 10/04/2013 at 23:01

The redpoll has returned with Mrs Redpoll, and the other little birds are still eating at such a rate that I have to keep filling up the feeders each day.  But they are a delight to watch - I just wish sthe marauding jackdaws and rooks would stay away!

I dug over the veg patch today and was chased by three robins who wanted me to work faster to unearth more worms etc!!!  I thought they were very terratorial, and wouldn't tolerate others in "their"patch, but it seems I was wrong.  It was lovely to be out in the fresh air, though, and the sound of all the birdsong was a real sign of spring at last. 

Vistors had a party yesterday

Posted: 24/03/2013 at 12:50

The birds are eating me out of house and home in this cold weather.  We have had no snow, but the wind is bitter.  As I type there are about 7 goldfinches, 2 siskins, 2 chaffinches with bluetits, great tits and coal tits rushing back and forth to stoke up, and couple of blackbirds and thrushes on the ground.  Last week we had a Redpoll visit the garden - and I see in today's paper that it is thought they will become as common as goldfinches, since they, too, love the nyger seed.

Oh - they've all flown off.  Could have something to do with a prowling cat!   

Dead? Take it back!

Posted: 21/03/2013 at 19:09

I tried it with a local nursery.  I bought over £100-worth of rhododendrons and azaleas 10 years ago.  Most flourished - one did not.  I went back (about 12 months after the purchase - but with photos of the established rhodo/azalea bed that I had created) and the manager blamed me.  Said I didn't know how to look after the plants.

I walked out in high dudgeon, and haven't been back since.  My tale has been oft repeated locally, so they did themselves no favours.

Just to prove the point, I dug up the failed plant, and in the same planting hole I put a rescue plant (another rohododendron) from a local garden centre.  It has thrived, and has caught up with all the others that had been planted.  I'm looking forward to its blooming again this spring (if we ever have one, that is!).  The buds on it are looking promising at least.

Too late to plant Tulip/Daff bulbs?

Posted: 16/03/2013 at 16:50

Thanks for taking the trouble to up-date us on your bulbs LeadFarmer.  It sounds as if you will have a good, albeit later than normal, show of daffs etc.

For the record, my Tete a Tete that I planted in groups of five a few years ago at the front of the house (north facing), have been left undisturbed and  have increased in numbers enormously, and have been flowering for a few weeks - they're just beginning to fade, but have been magnificent.  Why they should have been so early I don't know - but they've been a source of enjoyment through the dark days!

Unknown plant/shrub

Posted: 11/03/2013 at 19:44

Verbascum bombyciferum?  Vebascums are known as the Velvet Plant, because the leaves are so often soft and - well, velvety.  There are lots of different cultivars, but the spire of the flowers seems to fit in with the description from the chap who sold the plant to you.  Time will tell when it flowers, I suppose.

Oh - and if it is verbascum, they are susceptible to the Mullein Moth - caterpillars will chomp through the flowers at a rate of knots.  Not for the squeamish - but the easiest way of dealing with them is to be vigilent and pick them off.

Talkback: Vine weevil

Posted: 27/02/2013 at 22:17

I think leaf-cutter bees tend to chew the edges of leaves in a semi-circular way.  Vine weevils tend to have smaller, more squared sorts of notches on the edges.

In any event, spraying the leaves will have no impact on the dreaded VWs - the adults (active in warmer months) come out at night.  The damage to the leaves is unsightly, but has little impact on the overall health of the plant.  But - the grubs do the real damage, chomping at the roots of the plants.  They can be undetected until the plant collapses.  For that reason, the best advice is to apply a soil drench.

And if you've found the grubs in old compost, then I'm afraid as if you do have the problem again.  But - spread the compost out on a hard surface and let the birds clean it for you.  They relish the grubs - robins especially!



Pot bound house plant

Posted: 13/02/2013 at 14:00

It's many years since I did anything so drastic with my African Violet - and had forgotten about their temperament!  Good advice Alina.  I have found the leaves in a glass of water to produce roots more reliable for propogation btw.

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