Winnowing My Garden Books

Winnowing My Garden Books

On this first of August 2020 I am resolved to winnow down my collection of books on gardening and related subjects. I want to separate the wheat from the chaff and boy is there a lot of chaff to sort, probably 500+ tomes plus related ephemera. Not all of this winnowing activity will lead to new posts on this site but my first effort has done.

The most recent book I have read from cover to cover was the entertaining ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ by Peter Wohlleben. To me it is a master piece of accessible writing about trees, what they feel, how they communicate and how nature interacts  with them. It is based on years of experience as a forester. Peter has acute observational and analytical ability that is well reasoned and simply communicated. The main themes I have taken into my wider gardening and ecological understanding include:

  1. Trees show we can take the long view and there is no need to rush, in fact time may create a far better and sustainable result.
  2. There is a place for everything and with everything in its place we disrupt it at our peril.
  3. We don’t know what we don’t know and there are more things in heaven and earth ( but what the Hamlet to mix my metaphors.)
  4. If trees have social networking with many skills similar to human abilities and traits, then what else can our gardens teach us.
  5. Look at what is easily visible and look again to develop understanding.

Fired with this enthusiasm I looked through for further enlightenment before I  pass on the books to others as part of winnowing down from  my book shelves. I came across a 1974 book ‘Plants and Environment’ by R F Daubenmire a self professed Textbook of Plant Autecology. The book’s definition of Autecology is wider than a dictionary definition claiming it considers: geology, soils, climatology, zoology, chemistry and physics which are connected to the welfare of living organism and evolution of species. Not dissimilar to Wohlleben’s offering.  As I have only read the preface and introduction in detail some chapers have been dipped into to suit my mood at the time. These include; soil, water, temperature, light, atmospheric, biotic, fire, evolution and complex environmental chapters.

As a text book it is more detailed and less apocryphal than the Hidden Life of Trees but aims at ‘the intelligent management of plant life (and trees in particular) for the good on mankind’. Both books have excellent notes and references.

 

Earwig Time

Earwig Time

There are a lot of earwigs around this year or so it seems. Typical in a year when I had decided to grow more dahlias than usual but I guess the earwigs must have known that and got on with early breeding.

Facts about Earwigs

  • Earwigs chew on live shoots, flowers or decaying vegetation and like damp secluded conditions.
  • In my garden they do most noticeable damage on Chrysanthemums and Dahlias.
  • Earwigs are attracted to lights when they move around at dusk and nighttime.
  • Females lay between 30 and 50 small, round, translucent eggs.

Some Control Tips

  • Good housekeeping, dry areas and removing leaf litter restricts an earwigs desired living conditions
  • Placing hollow canes around dahlias act as a trap as can grass clippings or mulch removed regularly
  • Soapy water sprays or chemical formulas can reduce infestations

read more

Neat and Trim Tree

Neat and Trim Tree

In a garden the weeping willow can look untidy and in need of a trim as it has a propensity to straggle and have branches trailing on the ground. Along side water it will favour the wet side. This can play havock with the area underneath and the designs symmetry.  A solution has been found in this garden which I spotted on a lockdown walkabout. The lower branches have been trimmed to a uniform height around the bole.

The lawn stripes and the neat hedges smack of a professional garden maintenance crew who doubtless have the best tools for the different tasks job.

I liked this photograph of the same garden from another angle. The trim willow is framed by the leaves of the overhang. A shame I couldn’t get a shot without the telegraph pole. See an earlier post from 2009 weeping willow in trim taken in Hay-on-Wye.

Oenothera biennis Our Evening Primrose

Oenothera biennis Our Evening Primrose

The Evening Primrose is one of my favourite, limeish yellow, summer, biennial flowers.

Evening Primrose Oenothera glazioviana

Evening Primrose Growing

  • These plants are capable of seeding profusely
  • The large-flowered evening-primrose Oenothera glazioviana is one of 4 common UK species
  • There are another dozen species and many hybrids and crosses.
  • Evening primrose  flower from June to September. and seeds are produced in mid-August
  • There is a fragrant evening-primrose Oenothera stricta.

Evening Primrose Medical Benefits

The plant is common and popular in the USA and its roots are eaten and used for various purposes. Gardeners Path say it can ‘help a number of conditions including eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, premenstrual syndrome, and osteoporosis  and oil of Evening primrose can be used  to regulate blood pressure and to keep the immune system functioning’.

Lawn Edge Trimmers

Lawn Edge Trimmers

Hover Mower Tips on Use and Safety

 

mow

Hover Mower Tips

  • Hover mowers are quick and easy to use but they do not leave stripes in your grass.
  • Use hover mowers to keep your grass tidy but consider a cylinder mower for a top quality look to your lawn. It is the roller on a mower that makesdefines the stripes on your lawn
  • The special mowers for long grass are an excellent way of clearing space like a hovering scythe.
  • The electric Hover mowers are fine for small lawns and are far lighter than most other lawnmowers but they are unlikely to collect up the cut grass.
  • When mowing a bank or slope stand at the top, attach a rope if you need too then swing and lower the mower.
  • Mow up and down not across a slope and take extra care on any uneven ground.
  • Handles generally fold so the machine can be hung from a shed or garage wall making them extremely space efficient

For Safeties Sake

Before Using Your Mower

  • Read the instruction book, it may seem obvious but best to be prepared.
  • Fill the petrol tank before you start as pouring petrol into a hot engine can be as dangerous as smoking.
  • Examine the area to be cut for stones, bits of metal, toys or pets.
  • Set the cutting height, not too short!
  • When starting the machine keep it still, perhaps by putting your foot on the hood.
  • Hover mowers do not have wheels so they must be carried onto and off the lawn.Lift with care and buy one that is light enough for you to manage.

While Mowing

  • Wear heavy shoes with a good grip and keep children away from dangerous machinery.
  • Do not carry the mower whilst it is running it will not float from one lawn to the next.
  • Keep the mower flat as it is designed to stop ‘flying stones’ by hovering close to the ground. Do not mow over gravel.
  • Do not try to use your mower as a cultivator some areas may be so overgrown they need a machete.
  • Don’t take risks or walk backwards as you may pull the machine on top of you.
  • Safety regulations require all new electric mowers to have elaborate safety switches that usually require two handed use and a constant grip.

mower

Patio Roses

Patio Roses

June is a wonderful time to appreciate the variety of easy care patio roses that are now available.

Third Year of outstanding Flowering

Facts about Patio Rose

  • Small and miniature versions of the traditional floribunda type of rose are being bred of the smaller gardens, window boxes, patios or decking areas.
  • ‘Peter Beales’ rose grower offers patio climbers, ramblers and a variety of shrub roses for patios
  • Patio roses can thrive in pots, containers or direct in the ground
  • The smaller cousins ‘miniature roses’ grow to a height of between 12 and 18 inches.
  • Patio plants grow up to 30″ tall are generally hardy and repeat well.

 Yorkshire Princess Patio Rose

Care Tips for Patio Roses

  • I have been fortunate but there have been no greenfly or bug infestations of any note. I would be ready with a garlic spray or proprietary insecticide if needs must.
  • Only one out of a dozen plants has suffered fro black spot and as you can see the pots are close together so I must be lucky.
  • I gave my plants a mini prune in early spring after a winter prune to keep the plants short and prevent wind damage

On My Patio with Room for More

Portmanteau Trees New Species

Portmanteau Trees New Species

Elmonkey

If you notice dogs you may have seen a’ cockapoo’ using one of your trees as a loo or a ‘puggle’ leaving a puddle but what is a ‘labradoodle’ to do?  Every week there seems to be a new hybrid dog that is a cross between two or more breeds so I wonder if can this apply to trees.

If breeders could cross a Eucalyptus with a holly the European commission would be happy with a Eucalolly forest or a walnut would make a waolly or hollnut. My favourites would be a Sycayew or the tall but sickly Poplash

Paperbarked Maple

Back to the dogs for a minute, not to say silverbarkbirch or paperbarked maple both a bit wrouff ( or am I doing something up the wrong tree). How about planting a bulldogwood, a pitbull tree of heaven or a maidenhairweiler.

Trees portmanteaued or  crossed with board games would be chessnuts, planeludo or snakebarks and ladders. Mahonijong are related to chinese checkers and monopoly would be a self pollenator. Who let the dogs in there are terrible draughts in here (enough already go have some Chow ed).

Cloche Crop Protection

Cloche Crop Protection

Octagonal cloche

A cloche is used as a protective covering to shield plants, usually vegetables from the undesirable effects of cold, wind, and predator damage.

  • Cloches may be just smaller poly-tunnels used to protect a small number or individual plants.
  • Cloches made from plastic are much lighter than glass making them easier to move around. The advantages of glass is that the temperature within a glass cloche will be slightly warmer, they are less likely to be blown around and look better.
  • A home made cloche can be made from a cut down plastic pop bottle.
  • There are attractive bell shaped cloches available and various shapes like the one above.

How to Use a Cloche

  • Put the cloches in place a month before sowing to help warm the soil.
  • Sow seeds or plant out under the cloche for protection.
  • Cloches can be used in September to protect late crops of Lettuce.
  • Consider ventilation and watering when buying a cloche. The roof of this cloche can be lifted off.
  • I use a cloche to keep mice away from germinating peas and beans.

A Floating Cloche can be made from sheets of polypropylene fleece which are placed over the seed bed – when the seedlings emerge, the polypropylene is light enough to float up as the plants grow. I like this method for Broad beans peas and early potatoes.

A floating cloche is cheap, easy to put in place and protects the seedlings from three or four degrees of frost. Water permeates the fleece.

Poly Tunnels are another alternative.

Poly tunnel’s supporting hoops should be no more than 2½ feet apart. If spaced further apart the plastic sheeting will droop over the crops and may damage them in rainy or snow conditions.
Make sure the height is adequate for the crops you want to protect.

Related

Garden Frost Protection

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle Belgica


Aromatic Honeysuckle

  • These aromatic plants are sometimes called “woodbine.”
  • The flower, seed, and leaves are used for medicine particularly Chinese medicine for which they are grown as a crop.
  • Honeysuckles are from a family of over 150  Lonicera species including,  L. periclymenum (common honeysuckle or woodbine),  L.nitada, invasive  L.japonica &   L.sempervirens.

My Honeysuckle Experiences

  • My memory goes back over 60 years to a great aunt who grew a superbly scented climbing plant in her small backyard in a through terrace house. It must have made an impression alongside french cricket where it had to competed for space in the yard.
  • Later in life I have taken numerous cuttings and bought some named Lonicera to add height in the garden
  • Now I neglect them and leave them to their own devices. They survive but don’t really thrive. I should give them some TLC and grow them nearer to paths where I can relish the scent.

Gardeners Pruning tips

More info on Honeysuckle