Latest posts by Topbird

Greenhouse erection is up..but will it stay up??

Posted: 18/06/2013 at 12:37

Sorry garjobo - but I agree 100% with Bookertoo.

A greenhouse should be solid - nothing wobbly. It is one thing for some garden structures to be a bit wobbly, rustic or 'unique - quite another for a working environment made of glass to be unstable and possibly liable to collapse. How would you feel if a child was in there and a pane (or worse) fell on them?

You really need a builder (or similar) to come and assess whether the structure is safe. Maybe your posting makes it sound worse than it is but my advice is to shut the door and windows (so a gust of wind can't get under and lift any glass) and don't let anyone in till it's been checked.

I hope it's all ok as it sounds like you've done a lot of work - but a greenhouse crashing down on somebody's head isn't Tom & Jerry stuff - it could kill them.

Help, help, help! Just tipped a tin of paint over my lawn

Posted: 18/06/2013 at 12:28

I think - not the the Turps.....

Look at the label on the tin - is it a waterbased stain (ie can you clean out brushes in water - ie not using solvent)?

If so, I would flood the whole thing with loads of water NOW (several bucketfulls and then keep the hose running on it for ages) to dilute the paint. You might get away with it!

Only thing to watch with this advice is to flood it slowly - so you have don't have stream of dilute paint running into your borders etc. Also be careful if there's a pond nearby - don't let any get in there.

Good luck.


Wedding: container trees and bulbs

Posted: 18/06/2013 at 10:35

Difficult one to plan as the weather will be so influential over flowering times (as we all know from this year!!) & it might be a bit risky to rely on growing your own - but you can try and fall back on the GC if necessary.

What about some standard bays or yew or box topiaries (no flowers I know but they always look classy!) which you could put into large planters (black cubes?) and then buy stuff from the garden centre to underplant a few weeks before. Variegated ivies trailing down would look nice and at that time of year there would probably be palest primroses, perhaps some white anenomes and white narcissi available. The trees and ivies can be planted up well in advance - if you have somewhere sheltered to keep them so the leaves don't get scorched by wind or frost - and the underplanting can be done in the last couple of weeks before the big day depending on what is in flower / available.

If there is a colour theme to the wedding the underplanting could also contain a few splashes of that colour (primulas come in all sorts). Don't forget that garden centres usually have a huge range of colourful plants available in April (like sweeties - to tempt us!) and, even if you are buying tender annuals, it won't matter if you can keep them indoors the whole time.

Another plus - the planters (complete with plants) can then be moved to the garden and live a long and productive life.

Good luck!

Rat problem

Posted: 18/06/2013 at 10:08

What sort of 'heap' is it? Is there any sort of enclosure (wooden pallets, chicken mesh, plastic 'dalek' type bin)?.

Personally, I use very large, very heavy duty plastic compost 'makers' which I obtained a few years ago from my local council at an incredible discount. The sides open out completely for ease of emptying and turning. They stand on concrete slabs and the bottoms are lined with a double layer of chicken mesh (top layer slightly offset against the bottom layer to reduce the size of the holes) which extends about 6" up the sides of the bins. These measures seem to provide a barrier to things which can burrow under structures or gnaw their way through wooden ones and I would soon see if anything was trying to gnaw at the bin itself.

I never put cooked food or anything meaty or dairy based into the bin (see Sue's comments above) and actually put very limited kitchen waste in. Tea bags, coffee grounds, citrus peel and some other vegetable peelings are ok - but even with these I wait until I have about a foot of garden waste in the bottom.

If you have an unenclosed, dryish compost heap with food in it or near it (eg bird or chicken food) I'm afraid you have a 5 star rat hotel and you will need to take steps. Making the environment as hostile and difficult to infiltrate as possible is much better than then trying to get rid of the rats - they will just keep coming back if they like the accommodation! Prevention is definitely better than cure in this case.

Meantime I'd get a rat man in!

Rambling Rose

Posted: 14/06/2013 at 23:31

Cats...the other week mine nipped the tops off all my nepeta seedlings which had just grown to a nice size for planting out & were hardening off beside the potting shed. Then he snapped off one of the 3 stems of my newly planted Roserie de la Haie whilst digging nearby for Australia...

Was he being a little b... or was he a gardener in a previous life doing a bit of judicial pruning? The nepeta looks better for having the tips pinched out....

Good luck with your rose.

female dogs

Posted: 14/06/2013 at 09:23

I don't have a dog but I think my neighbour buys special 'rocks' (presumably from a pet supplies store) to put in her female dog's water bowl.

She says they work.

Trouble with Malus 'Tina'

Posted: 12/06/2013 at 15:29

Looks like woolly aphids. Quite difficult to get rid of by spraying etc as the "cotton wool" forms a waxy style protective shelter for the little blighters. 

If your tree is only 3 years old and not too large I would consider spending an afternoon with a bucket of soapy water and nail brush scrubbing off every little bit you can see. You could then consider a protective spray of insecticide (but late in the evening after the pollinators have gone to bed).

You then need to be vigilant and remove any new patches when they first appear. Laborious to deal with - I have it on some eating apple trees.

No fruits last year may have been due to the aphids but might also have been due to the weird weather - we had blossom very early (before the pollinators were out) but also quite severe frosts when everything was in full blossom - poor yields as a result.

what to grow

Posted: 12/06/2013 at 10:41

Might not be too late for French Beans if you sow them now ready to plant out in a few weeks (or buy some baby plants from the GC when you're ready ).



Dividing Perennials

Posted: 12/06/2013 at 10:34

Thanks for your input guys.

I agree with Fidgetbones that next spring is the right time for me to do all this but it is SUCH a busy time of year that I always seem to run out of days (& my OH likes to go away for 2 weeks in March / April which doesn't help in the least!!!) - which is why I would like to start the propagation this year.

I agree that the brunneras & some of the geraniums are tough enough to withstand division in early summer when the flowers have finished - whether they go straight back in the ground or are grown on in pots will have to depend on the weather & soil conditions. Right now the soil is pretty baked & we could do with some rain (but not this weekend please as I'm having a girlie garden-visiting weekend).

Some of the more delicate & precious geraniums are of the pratense and walliacanium varieties which I desperately want to keep so will probably give those a bit more TLC and divide into pots at the end of the summer.

Fidgetb. - I have just sowed some mixed hardy geranium seed (purchased from Margery Fish's garden) - so I am excited to find out what comes up. Didn't realise I would get seed from the thalictrums as well as being able to divide - so that is really good news. I love these pretty plants dotted all over the shady areas of the garden with foxgloves to come a bit later & hardy geraniums round the bases.

Re the Dicentra. It is the common spectabilis variety & I have seen conflicting advice about propagation of these.

Some people say the roots are very brittle & the plant resents disturbance & it doesn't need dividing. Others say to divide in spring (or after the leaves have died down) or take root cuttings or to collect seed. I have 2 large plants - one in the right place & one that need moving now that we've rearranged some fencing and gates.

So I think at the end of flowering I shall experiment with the one that needs to be moved but leave the other one be for now. Will let you know which method seems to work best.

Dividing Perennials

Posted: 11/06/2013 at 20:01

Hello - just needing some reassurance I am doing the right thing.

I am 2 years into 'making' a new garden. It is a large site & I decided from the outset that the only way I could afford to stock it full to busting with my beloved herbaceous perennials was to propagate a lot of them myself. 

I am growing a lot from seed & cuttings but also brought some prized specimens from my previous garden and purchased quite a few 'stock' plants last year.  I have loved & nurtured (aaah!) these last 2 groups of plants for the past 12 months & am pleasantly suprised that several are now definitely large enough for me to divide (primarily brunneras, hardy geraniums, dicentra, astrantias and thalictrums). They are all in the ground (ie not in pots).

I know that it would have been best to lift & divide them earlier (eg April) but I was a bit (ie VERY) busy planting shrubs and hedges at that time & the plants were also very late & giving no indication then of just how much they had grown in one year.

I am reluctant to divide them right now as they are all either in or about to come into flower and lifting them now means they will wilt and probably need cutting back - and they are currently doing a good job cheering up my rather bare garden no end!

I could wait until autumn but I garden on heavy clay and I know that small plant divisions are likely to sulk and rot if we have another cold wet winter.

I was thinking of waiting until flowering was over (when I would normally cut the plants right back to get a fresh flush of leaves) and dividing them then. I think the soil will be a bit too hard and dry for small divisions (not much rain in Suffolk again this year!) so I thought I could put the divisions in pots and maybe plant them out late summer if they've made enough root growth. If not I can sink the pots in the soil (saves watering) and plant out next spring.

I'd be grateful for some moral support if you think I'm doing the right thing or even more grateful if somebody could point out the error of my plans & prevent me making a big mistake and maybe losing a lot of plants.

Thanks in advance.

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