Hello Everyone, This is a quick post just to keep things going. Look out for a bumper issue next time when hopefully time there will be time to prepare a fuller read. Don't forget new posts are announced on twitter at @pwhorticulture
Does my bum look big in this?
Not so much beyond the pale but more between the pales. A very rosy looking Golden Delicious apple has squashed itself between the palings of my garden fence.
Bondage in the orchard.
The flowering shoots of this espaliered apple developed their fruit inside a squirrel proof bird feeder.
There can't be many gardeners in the UK ( and maybe around the world) who don't recognize these roots. They are of course the roots of Bindweed, Calystegia sepium. They strike fear into the heart of any serious gardener. They grow very deep and they are packed with stored energy which means even very small pieces of root have sufficient reserves to push up a new shoot from even deep buried fragments. They always look uncannily white and ready washed when they come out of the ground and look temptingly like an ingredient for a crunchy stir fry. Not sure if they are toxic so I am not going to try it.
It is difficult to eradicate but with patience and persistence it can be got rid of but you need to be sure it is not going to be running back into the garden under your neighbour's fence. Nor is a wall necessarily a good defence as the roots will make their way under or through a stone wall though a brick wall with footings can be considered secure. If the ground is otherwise clear of any plants you want to keep let the bindweed grow a good cover of leaves across the ground and then before it flowers spray it with Glyphosate ( Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup but there are other brands to be found.) Glyphosate is a translocated herbicide which means it is moved around the plant to kill all parts of the plant so the greater the leaf area the more herbicide you get into the plants system and the greater will be its effect. You are wasting your time if you spray the first few leaves that appear. Always remember that this weed killer is just as happy killing your favourite plants as it is killing the weeds so take great care when spraying. Using a low pressure on you sprayer will give you a bigger droplet size and help avoid spray drift but you should not spray on windy days.
If you are very vigilant and persistent you can wear it down by removing every new shoot that appears and the plant will eventually run out of energy and die but such is its store of energy that this can take years and you might run out of energy before it does. Chickens might have the required stamina - a friend moved his large chicken run around his garden over period of a few years and killed, by pecking attrition, every bit of bindweed, ground elder and creeping thistle in his garden.
Bindweed is at it worse when it is established among herbaceous plants and shrubs. Training it up canes gives you a chance to keep it clear of the plants you want to keep and allows a good leaf coverage to build up before you spray. When it comes to spraying cover the plants around the canes with polythene sheet and beware of run off from the bsheet.
More often than not, Ground Elder, another extremely pernicious weed, gets mentioned in the same breath as bindweed. It is one of the terrible trio of weeds , Bindweed, Ground elder and Horses tail. (Equisteum) . Everyone is keen to tell you Ground Elder was brought into the UK by the Romans ( So that is what the Romans ever did for us. Hmm? ) and was used as a salad and cooking herb by monks. It is also often said to be a cure for gout as its scientific name implies. Aegopodium podagaria. Aegopodium = goat's foot from Greek aix, goat and pous, foot. Podagaria = used to treat gout or arthritis. More of this sometimes desirable plant below........
A few years ago I was involved with the early stage development of the gardens at Bretforton Manor
One of the most awkward parts of the garden was this yew covered walkway which leads to the back gate and to the private gate to the church. It was gloomy and the ground was dry and shady. Very little would grow there so I decided to take a bit of a risk and plant the variegated selection of the grow anywhere Ground Elder. It was a risk taken with some understanding that not too much could go wrong. There were thick stone walls on both sides and at the far gate end and a thick yew hedge where you enter the walkway so the ground elder could not escape into the garden proper. I went back to visit the garden recently and I was very pleased that my experiment had worked. Congratulations have to go to the owners for letting me plant such a rampant spreader in the first place and to Jon Heath , the head gardener for managing this so well and stopping the plain leaved Ground Elder from taking any hold. One way to keep the plain leaves at bay is to make sure that the flower heads are not allowed to seed because seedlings may well come up plain green. Also any shoots reverting to green need to be dug out as soon as they appear. Because the plain leaves have more green in the leaves than the variegated type they will be more vigorous and start to overwhelm the 'ornamental' type.
''It's late September and I really should be getting back to school......................''
I love late September in the garden. Things are far from over and the flowers that are still showing off seem to have their colours enriched by the low sun. There is no great mystery in getting a good display in early autumn. The picture below was taken in the last week of September in north Gloucestershire and none of the plants are difficult to grow. This is quite a deep border, the front to back dimension of a border is important if you want to get a meaningful interplay of height and shape between plants. This is just a small part of a longer border but the same effect can be had in a border of lesser proportions by just using fewer plants of the individual varieties. The plants from left to right are, at the back Datisca cannabina .I know I bore you to death with my regular references to this plant but it is only because I love it so much, a few late flowers of Hemerocallis, a Sedum (but I cant remember
which), Echinacea purpurea, more grassy Day Lily foliage at the front ( It is always worth considering the effect of the foliage a plant provides because most often it is on show for far longer than the flowers), The blue is Aster amellus 'Monch' and in front of it is Crocosmia 'George Davison '. Some stray Verbena bonariensis seedlings, Miscanthus gracillimus and Heuchera 'Plum Pudding' complete the arrangement.
Another late September arrangement now in its second year is made up of Miscanthus 'Flamingo',- the near grass, Euphorbia myrsinites, the foreground grey, Ajuga 'Black Scallop' - dark foliage in foreground, Portugal Laurel as repeated evergreen structure midway throught the border. The Heuchera is Cherry Cola.
The pinky ,purple , silvery grey leaves of the Japanese Painted Fern ( Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum') make an unlikely companion to the red berries of Arum italicum subsp. italicum 'Marmoratum'. I am surprised the marbled leaves have not yet started to show through, whennthey do they provide some of the best winter ground cover available. The grey stone ball is a piece of sculpture by David Harber and is one of three in this part of the woodland garden.
Another late season treat is this Tricyrtis ( Toad Lily)
Rust free Hollyhock.
I am not sure where this fits in botanically with the plants we all know as Hollyhock but it has the same effect as the more flamboyant varieties but is much later in flower. Unlike the traditional hollyhocks it does not have the rust problem. In the case of normal Hollyhocks the effect of the rust can be minimised not by treating it with chemicals but by growing your Hollyhocks towards the back of a border so the diseased leaves are never seen but the towering flower spikes are. This variety flowers much later than most and is flowering now in the first week of October. It has slightly double flowers but its true value lies in its slightly dirty pink colour -very Farrow and Ball. Perhaps the colour could be called Flamingo's Breath. That is a joke, ( after Farrow and Ball's Moles Breath) for those who thought I might be going all unduly arty.
I have this growing against a purple smoke bush which sets it off perfectly. It rises to a couple of metres and is rust free.
Alcea 'Parkfrieden' from Special Plants
Name that plant 1.
Presuming you don't know what the plant below is and I asked you to guess its name what would you say?
It has been flowering for several weeks through September, it is herbaceous, has survived the last few very cold winters ( That is UK Midlands very cold and please no sniggers from Canadians or Greenlanders. ), it forms a gradually spreading clump and has very narrow leaves on stems some 75 to 90 cms high.
Would you say Lobelia? Well you should because it is Lobelia laxifolia var. angustifolia. It has survived several years on my very ordinary soil in a site neither protected nor a particularly exposed. It is one of the most exotic looking hardy plants in my garden. It is from Mexico.
Name that plant 2.
Here is another one that is so atypical that if you don't know it you are unlikely to be able to guess from its shape and colour. It is an Echinacea, honest, It is a variety called Southern Belle,which doesn't bode well for its hardiness but I am going to give it a try. It is not so much the flower shape that appeals to but its bright lipstick colour. I have no idea what I am going to pair it with but maybe that is the point and it will just stand on its own as a very bright show-off.
Greenhouse red spider mite ( Then again it might not)
Tidying up.I like tidying up in the garden because it gives you a chance to get close up to your plants and you see them in more detail then when just enjoying them from afar. I was pulling off the seed heads of Stipa arundinacea ( In know it now has a new name but I haven't caught up with it yet.). They have a soft feel but are slightly spiky as well and a great armful weighs nothing. They were still looking good but these were flopping over the path and they are prolific self seeders and I can do without any more seedlings. I found the touch and the colour of the pink and sere tinged stems both visually and tactilely ( is there such a word?) very stimulating.
The pictures don't really capture the sensations of touch and texture but if you have pulled these out and bundled them up the pictures will jog a memory.
Knotting the fluffy stems means you can get more in the barrow but also makes for a sculptural effect. (Would have been better on a plain background. Ed.)
This is a picture of Euphorbia rigida showing a very fancy foliage arrangement to which some people immediately shout Fibonacci! I was going to explain why but it takes a bit of maths and good deal of explanation and I have run out of time so look out for it in the next issue.
This is not gardening but it caught my eye when I was waiting for my wife to finish her judging duties at a local show.
On a day out at Moreton Show I came across Dan Quartermain thatching a dog kennel to demonstrate his skills. It is obvious still a very traditional craft but small improvements such as stainless steel wire and screws and nails make the thatch more long lasting.
He is thatching this dog house with straw rather than reed.Traditionally thatching would have been carried out with whatever material was local to the area and long ago this was very often grass. Now reeds get transported across the world to satisfy demand.
Judging by the seed heads this is barley straw. The wire is twisted with a ' wire twister' - I am sure it has a more interesting name really - which pulls the strips of wood holding the straw tight and holds it secure.
...........................................................That's all folks Au revoir.