Latest posts by steephill

azaleas for a beginner

Posted: 13/05/2015 at 22:58

Check out your neighbours gardens. Do they have rhododendrons or camellias growing in free soil? If they have blue hydrangeas then that is also a good sign.

I almost went blind looking at a pair of small leaved azaleas I have by the front door. They are decades old, one purple one pink and the colour contrast with the new bright green leaves is just stunning at this time of year. I normally have a large leaved yellow variety (Rhododendron Luteum?) as a backdrop which is a powerful combination particularly against the purple variety but I pruned that one hard last year to get it back under control. So I can see the attraction. 

Unknown fruit bush

Posted: 12/05/2015 at 13:11

Definitely Seven of Nine not One of Seven. The ladies may be enjoying Poldark but we once had Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine.

Honey Bee swarms

Posted: 03/05/2015 at 23:33

Both swarms were safely collected by my beekeeping neighbour who will try to combine them. It is fascinating to watch a swarm in action although the early stages with the sky full of bees can be very intimidating. The first time it happened we had some burly roofers working on the roof who rapidly descended and sheepishly asked if they could retreat indoors during the swarm.

My OH reacts badly and a sting would mean a rapid trip to hospital so we do have to be careful. My beekeeping neighbour is also very sensitive and has had to have desensitizing treatment to try to lessen the risk of anaphylactic shock. Exciting times with adrenalin injection pens at the ready during swarm season. On the bright side it means our fruit trees are always well pollinated and the honey is lovely.


Honey Bee swarms

Posted: 03/05/2015 at 15:57

We are used to our neighbours bees swarming in early summer (late May onwards) but they caught us out this time by being far earlier than usual. I noticed one swarm starting but it had moved on from the original roost so I had to go find it again. They had regrouped on a hedge on top of a steep bank. However on closer inspection (with binoc's!) there were two swarms about a metre apart which I hadn't come across before.






bear grass

Posted: 03/05/2015 at 12:34

Xerophyllum tenax also called elk grass. Seems to be seeds only as I can't find any Uk supplier on the web. There may be some specialist nursery out there though.


Posted: 30/04/2015 at 10:10

Bullfinches are rather beautiful but such destructive little sods. Reminds me of reality TV "stars". Niger seeds seem to keep them occupied but apple blossom still seems to be one of their five-a-day.


Posted: 30/04/2015 at 10:04

You can hard prune pieris successfully. Cut it down to about a foot high. Now is the best time to do it. It will respond with vigorous growth and probably won't flower again fir a couple of years. Might be a good time to think about relocating it.

Don't give up on very leggy tomato seedlings

Posted: 28/04/2015 at 16:40

You could simply pot them up in deeper pots, right up to the first leaves. That will encourage more root to grow from the stem.

no blossom just leaves

Posted: 28/04/2015 at 10:46

They are still young and getting themselves established, it may take a couple of years yet before they are ready to fruit. Apple blossom just coming out now for me on Surrey/Sussex border, plum trees almost finished now.


Posted: 28/04/2015 at 10:37

It is illegal for anyone other than a gas safe registered engineer to carry out such a repair. Not to mention potentially lethal. Just imagine broken glass and aluminium shrapnel flying through your neighbours gardens. Don't even think about it.

Try one of your local central heating companies. The part required is almost certainly widely used in gas fires and central heating boilers and it should be easy and relatively cheap to fit, especially if you can take it to them to save a callout fee.

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