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Latest posts by stevew1975

1 to 10 of 16

wildflower companion planting

Posted: 12/04/2015 at 15:48


after unsuccessful attempts at growing wild flowers in my flower beds, last year I made the more successful move to pots with impoversished soil.

Although neither are native wildflowers I was pleased last year with lavender and poached egg plants in a pot of gritty compost.

Any suggestions for companion wild flower plants for birds foot trefoil? I have lots of yarrow seedlings - are they or possibly harebells likely to be ok in limey soil with the b-t-f?


Caterpillar ID please

Posted: 02/06/2014 at 21:38

Worth having or buying a good book on insects including caterpillars. I like the Collins "Complete guide".

Apart from the information, it's entertaining to browse through the names of some of the British moths. Some of my favourite names  are "The drinker" "The sprawler" "The suspected" and "the uncertain". My all-time favourite though is the "ruddy highflier" and whilst I realise that the name is a combined description of habit and coloration I always imagine someone asking an leptidopterist "what's that moth there?" and receiving the reply "I don't know, but it's a ruddy high flier!"

Sorry to spoil the serious tone of the thread!

On a more serious note I wish I'd looked up the beetles I found on my lilies last year. I thought they were harmless and even attractive until I found the leaves smothered in filthy larvae and then discovered that I had allowed the lily beetles to decimate my plants and infest the compost in the pots they were in!

Birdfeeder in flowerbed?

Posted: 02/06/2014 at 21:24

We have a birdfeeder hanging from a cherry tree over our flower border and use sunflower hearts.

We tried ordinary sunflower seeds - the problem wasn't so much one of germination as of seed/husk spilling (en masse - see below!) and growing a thick crusty and furry mould - no kidding, we thought at first there was a dead mammal on the ground! We were concerned about the spilled seed attracting mice or rats. Being on soil it wasn't easy to clear up the considerable spillages caused by collared doves. 

We were plagued by these (nothing against them apart from when they plundered our feeder!). Every time they landed (2 or 3 at a time!) on the plastic base/tray, seed scattered everywhere and they guzzled almost as much from the feeder as they spilled, sat on the telegraph pole till they'd emptied their crops and returned again soon after to repeat the spilling and guzzling. Eventually they snapped the plastic tray/base off.

We invested in a "cage" type anti-squirrel feeder to keep them out - the goldfinches, tits, chaffinches and sparrows have no problem, it's paid for itself in the seed that isn't wasted, and we have no problem cleaning up!.

HELP - honeybee nest

Posted: 02/06/2014 at 20:05

Many thanks Philippa. Had already tried a few searches then struck lucky after your posting.

A friendly beekeeper came along and to my surprise without any protection simply commenced shaking and scooping the bees into a purpose-built box/hive.

Less to my surprise however he then donned his full gear as apparently the bees were a little aggressive, he reckoned due to being hungry - so a good job we intervened, they may have stung passers by.

After about an hour all were safely gathered in, he has a new hive of bees and (so he reckoned) about 10,000 bees were rescued and have hopefully been taken somewhere where there is plenty of food.

We have tried to make our garden wildlife friendly but clearly failed to produce enough nectar plants for 10,000 bees.

Here is the link -  there is even a postcode field to complete and hey presto the nearest keeper's contact details appear on screen!

Thanks again, and sorry to have taken up valuable time & space - just panicked a bit!


HELP - honeybee nest

Posted: 02/06/2014 at 17:51


As you will see from the above I am a little concerned about this. I am more than happy to leave it completely alone but am a little anxious  should anyone inadvertently disturb it and get stung (and should I then get "stung" with a liability claim!)

I could contact the Council pest control but would rather have the colony moved than destroyed - any ideas or contacts?

Given my concerns I would prefer to find a solution sooner rather than later.

Any advice gratefully received!


sweet pea framework

Posted: 14/04/2014 at 19:33


don't know whether this is helpful to Emma but may be - if not it may be helpful to others.

I sometimes grow them up a columnar cherry tree, it's a bit of a phaff tying the stems on, but it adds colour and scent when the cherry tree has only leaves. I also grow a wild honeysuckle up the tree for the same reason, and as my garden is tiny it's a good way to pack in a few more plants. As it is against the front garden wall the scent is a nice welcome home after a fraught day!

As mentioned on another thread I plan this year to grow some up rustic poles with an inverted hanging basket fixed to the top in the hope it will create a "tree" effect with flowers and leaves cascading from the top. Might be a disaster but fancied giving it a try...

Anyone planted out their sweet pea seedlings?

Posted: 07/04/2014 at 19:33


really glad to have read about the hardiness of sweet peas, have probably pampered mine too long in the past, and am running out of windowsill space this year!

Any advice welcomed for this...

interested to read star gaze's mention of rustic poles. I have an idea of affixing an inverted hanging basket to the top of a pole for sweet peas to hang down from to give a kind of "tree" effect. 

Has anyone tried this? Was thinking of using (ironmongery, not office!!) staples and maybe for additional support a couple of hooks and some wire near the top of the pole/bottom of the basket. Any ideas? I presume one plant per pole is best in any case to prevent excess growth/weight? (my garden is tiny and previously I've grow 3 plants up a narrow-based pyramid of canes which invariably totter in the breeze once the plants have grown big!) 


Sweet pea sowing

Posted: 15/03/2014 at 09:28


being part Yorkshire and not liking to spend more money than I need (!), two years ago I found an ideal way to grow sweet peas with a deep rooting system. I cut a 1-litre milk carton roughly in half. Then I invert the top half and stand it in the bottom part (to contain the compost). The two parts together thus form a funnel-shape pot, quite deep but not so wide that you have to use a lot of compost! I sow one sweet pea per pot (usually soaked on damp tissue for a day or two first till it splits). Assuming your local Council recycles plastic, the cartons can be rinsed out when finished with and sent for recycling in the usual way.

On the subject of milk cartons - you do buy British milk, do you, to support our struggling farmers - we can't expect them to be conscientious custodians of teh countryside if they're nearly skint!


Hope it's not too late for at least some sweet pea lovers out there..


I make drainage holes in the bottom part and stand it on the usual gravel tray to contain drips and cut diagonally along the top part to allow the light to get to the compost freely.

Hesperis Matronalis, Sweet Rocket

Posted: 03/03/2014 at 20:37


a few years ago I started some sweet rocket from seed indoors in March, planted out after the frost, and it flowered that year. The two severe winters seemed to have killed them off but last summer I must have disturbed some self-sown seed as several have grown over the winter and some are currently in flower, though only tiny ones!

For whatever I sow I now tend to sow some seed and keep some for later in case of germination problems or to give a succession.

I'm definitely a fan of sowing in small cells and potting up or planting out, I find outdoor sowing quite hit and miss for many plants. If I do sow outdoors I cover the seeds with compost rather than soil - I sometimes find that, especially if the seeds need watering , ordinary soil forms into a hard crust that seeds can't break through. Covering with compost also helps you see where you've sown.

Night scented stock has a lovely scent but the flowers aren't very impressive - you might want to try mixing the seed with some Virginia stock or Candytuft. Reseda (mignonette) is a nice evening-scented plant but not as easy/reliable.

Some easy wildlife-friendly annual seeds that will flower the same year are: nigella/love in a mist, sweet scabious, single cornflower wild or cultivar (available mixed colours but avoid double flowered, agrostema/corncockle, candytuft, dwarf sunflower (little leo?), limnanthes/fried eggs, calendula/pot marigold. All should be ok sown outside in late March or April. If you sow some in April and some in June you should get a succession. Sorry for the mixture of Latin/common names!

Some late flowering perennials may flower the first year - I think the echinacea I grew from seed a few years ago did - so don't despair.

If you've already spent a lot on seeds, and the folk on the forum are tempting you further,  Wilkinsons own are good value! 




Under-rated climber?

Posted: 27/02/2014 at 19:33

A tip rather than a question!

Although they aren't easy to come by (I was fortunate enough to obtain a legitimate cutting from one in a garden) wild honeysuckle is definitely worth growing, especially where vigorous growth would be a disadvantage.

I grow a couple up an (admittedly established) columnar cherry tree. The add colour and gorgeous scent by the front wall and, as mine is a tiny garden, optimises limited space - and adds interest to the tree after it has finished flowering. Its non-rampant nature doesn't put a strain on the branches of its host, even in windy conditions.

I  also grow one up a cotoneaster and another up a wooden post that suspends a bird feeder as well as on the more normal fence/trellis setting.

I seem to remember the late Geoff Hamilton once singing its praises on G World,  saying that its scent was as good as any cultivar's.

Just thought you might want to give it a try!

1 to 10 of 16

Discussions started by stevew1975

wildflower companion planting

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HELP - honeybee nest

In our garden but adjoining pavement 
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Sweet pea sowing

Ideal pots for free! 
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Under-rated climber?

Wild honeysuckle 
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Help with choice of hosta

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Share a wildlife-friendly plant

Grow more than you need! 
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6 threads returned