Lions or Griffins Sculpted in your Garden

high trees 131

I saw this lion at our local garden centre. He was guarding the entrance and looked the ferocious part. But there aere more interesting sculpture displays this summer 2019 in some bigger garden spaces. The Yorkshire sculpture park has a Damien Hirst outdoor sculpture at their current exhibition and Kew Garden is featuring Dale Cilhuli glass sculptures. Newby Hall in North Yorkshire has contemporary sculpture which showcases the best of British in a woodland setting.

Stone Sculpture Pros and Cons

  • Natural stone looks good in the right place. It creates a better effect when local stone is used
  • Stone looks good in the right place. It creates a better effect when local stone is used. Aim to achieve a material that is sympathetic to the area.
  • Reconstituted stone looks good in the show room and for several seasons. For some reason it weathers more rapidly or looks less crisp a couple of winters later.
  • Good stone that has been well carved can be very expensive
  • Stone is heavy and not easy to move around or steal.
  • Sculptures without natural sunlight get more moss and lichen than well lit well located sculptures.
  • Good sculpture can provide both a talking point and a feature or focal point in your garden design.

Sculpture Comments

  • Large scale sculptures work best in larger gardens. It is worth balancing scale as too small a sculpture can get lost from view.
  • White or light stone sculptures should be set against a dark background
  • Small sculptures can be mounted on a plinth for greater effect.
  • Sculptures work well in pairs. Natural items work best in odd numbers
  • Old and valuable stone items should be insured, bolted down or alarmed. Thieves will steal anything!
  • A resin and composite stone sculpture like that below will cost significantly less than a stone sculpture.
  • Cheaper sculptures tend to lose the sharpness of carving or molding.



Animal Life in the Garden

Some  animals can be a real pest in the garden. Their crimes include eating the wrong thing, digging in the wrong area, turning grass brown with urine and leaving a dirty mess. Some chose your favourite plants to damage as I know from some aggressive over fed pigeons in my own garden.
In my experience the worst offenders are rabbits, cats, mice, deer, pigeons and dogs including foxes. Rats cause concern but have not caused direct damage in my garden.

Animal Deterrents

  • Cats and dogs scrape and dig often in the friable soil where you have planted precious seedlings. They can be frightened off with a sonic sound device like the one above.
  • Scent can scare off many animals. Old wives tales of lion or elephant dung may be far fetched but Retnardine sprayed on seems to work. A crushed garlic in water spary has some short term effects.
  • Rabbits and deer can be fenced out of your garden with special mesh, wire or high fences. That way the pesky blighters will go elsewhere for breakfast. Fences and hedges don’t seem to work against determined cats who always appear to prefer your garden to their own.
  • Birds are scared off brassica crops by special scarers, scarecrows or more effectively by netting and string.
  • Mice have eaten lots of my bulbs this year and when I plant new ones I will put a mesh over them before the soil is replaced as protection.
  • Rats I have poisoned as they bred around my compost heap and I had health concerns.
  • Slugs are  a whole new ball game

Sonic Repeller

I was asked about dog problems by a member of our local crown green bowling club. Apart from sonic repellers of electric fences the only answer would be a 24 hour patrol!

Animal repellers from Amazon
Book Cover


Garden Theft and Special Garden Insurance

Is your garden safe from petty crime? Unfortunately in recent years garden theft has been on the rise. Plants, furniture, metal objects and statues can all be  attractive to thieves. Our local police  circulated this timely reminder on how to ‘nip crime in the bud’.

‘…Another emerging trend is for garden tools and rubble left lying about in
the garden to be used to smash windows to gain entry into properties. Now
the weather is becoming milder people are starting to venture back into
their gardens to tidy up, but seem to be leaving their tools lying around,
which make ideal implements for a would be burglar. Please remember to
secure all tools when you have finished gardening, and to tidy away bricks
and rubble if at all possible.’

Plant Pot Worth Pinching?

Another reminder when you are in the garden shut and lock doors and windows. You can be surprised how crafty and cunning some ‘nere-do-wells’ and ‘have it away day’ thieves can be. Even with care you may still be susceptible to burglars. We had our non europrofile locks broken in less than a minute, the barrels were thrown into a large shrub where we recovered them and finger prints but not the items stolen from our bedroom.

Garden Insurance

Here are some tips on what to insure and how you could be covered

  • Theft of trees,  plant pots, containers and specific plants that are within the boundaries of the home.
  • Statues, semi- permanent features and structures such as arches and arbors.
  • Loss or damage to fences, gates, hedges, lawns, patios, ponds, rockeries and walls caused by storms, floods, fire, malicious or accidental damage.
  • Loss or damage to fish or animals is unlikely to be included in garden cover.
  • Consider the total value of the items to be insured. Do not underestimate the value when setting up a policy.

Other Policies

  • Your household contents insurance may cover garden furniture as well as the contents of your shed and garage but not on all policies.
  • Your household buildings cover should include outbuildings  if they suffer damage caused by falling trees, storm or flood but again you need to check.
  • You should have public liability insurance under an existing policy but it is worth checking particularly if you open your garden to visitors.
  • If you work as a jobbing gardener you need business cover. You may also want special accident cover against personal injury.
  • Talk to an expert of broker.

Continue Reading →


Gardening for Those Getting On in Years

Expert gardeners may have spent more than half a century developing their skills but you are never to old to start, nor are you too old to learn easier and simpler ways to enjoy your gardening.
Bending and kneeling may get a bit harder as you age but there are ways to overcome mobility restrictions like padded kneelers with good handles.

Waterlilies Viewed through my cataracts?

Tools as You Age

  • You are not going to double dig acres of ground so get a spade to suit. A small stainless steel blade lifts less but will not over tax the muscles and still get most jobs done at a steady pace. Mud wont get claggy and stick the blade so you only lift it once.
  • I have very useful smaller forks and a trowel on long handles. They are easy to obtain and save your back. You can also fashion your own dibbers and gadgets
  • A two wheeled barrow is lighter for pushing than a traditional one wheeler.
  • Use large pots and containers to reduce watering and put them on casters for moving around or better still leave them in a permanent spot.

Book Cover
The Illustrated Practical Guide to Gardening for Seniors: How to Maintain Your Outside Space with Ease Into Retirement and Beyond by Patty Cassidy from Amazon

Easier Gardening as You Age

  • This above book shows how easy it is for seniors to carry on gardening, into and way beyond retirement.
  • It looks at different kinds of homes and the gardens they provide, assessing the location, local climate and soil type and evaluating problems such as arthritis and loss of balance.
  • The book also outlines the importance of taking care of your body, summarizing the safety issues, what to wear, warm-up exercises and equipment to make the garden easy to access for unsteady feet or wheelchairs.
  • Included is a directory that profiles the many planting choices available, each with a difficulty rating and a hardiness category.
  • Gardening for Seniors is packed with projects, garden plans and step-by-step sequences.
  • Easier gardening will appeal to active gardeners in their early retirement through to those with more limited abilities, showing how, by adapting garden activities and the tools employed, the joy of gardening will remain undiminished.

Plants and Planting as You Age

  • Avoid fast growing shrubs that need pruning and regular spraying. I prefer small rhododendrons to roses for this reason.
  • Aim at your senses by placing plants where you will get the most reaction from those you still have in full working order.
  • Design and implement your gardening to impress others and they will stop and talk.
  • Cajole a relative or pay someone to do the heavy yards (landscaping, tree lopping, hedge trimming or whatever you struggle with).
  • If all is failing grow indoor plants even resort to cacti

Pettinger’s Pelargoniums

Sorry this is not a new geranium nursery or supply business although I wish it was. It is  just a follow up and continuation of my earlier promise  to keep updating my new found enthusiasm for Pelargoniums.

Zonal geraniums from overhead.

This is a garden center photo taken 17th June 2019. The plants were in 4″ pots selling for £2.49. There was nothing to tempt me with this selection on quality, originality or value for money grounds.

From the ridiculous to the sublime I went to visit a more upmarket garden location in South London.

Geranium Update and Kew

  1. A trip last week to Kew garden chimed well with my recent pelargonium theme with a good display of many species. In the grounds they avoided the brash colour schemes of the familiar bedding plant varieties and had the best mixture of species in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.
  2. I was impressed with the greenhouse display of 8″ pots of several specific varieties including ivy leaved types.
  3. As an aside comment I arrived at Kew to queue in the June rain (what else). Next time I will book a ticket via the internet to gain rapid access. Due to the rain I bought a ride on the Kew train that provided a 45 minute guided tour of whole site. A worthwhile investment for the guides know-how and the ability to jump off and on during the day.
  4. Currently there is a Dale Chihuly  exhibit of luminous glass artworks set in Kew’s spectacular landscape and greenhouses.


London Mews and Georgian Terraces had some good flowering displays on substantial plants. They probably survive our winters due to shelter from the nearby buildings. As is my wont I failed to get the best ones photoed.


Geranium Time and Time Again

Yes it is well past time to look at geraniums again. Since this blog started there have been over 60 pages of tips about geraniums. The most popular have been about scented,  regal and dwarf geraniums but zonals and bedding also retain much interest. (You can find these and more links by using our search button).

Pelargonium Vancouver Centennial’ @ Kew Garden

Why then is there this new post about geraniums? Well it is a reflection of my personal taste and intentions as I relaunch my horticultural interest in the 200 or so pelargonium species that we all call geraniums. (There are a further 400+ loosely related species correctly classed as geraniums often called hardy geraniums. Are you with me so far?) I am going to call pelargoniums by the common name of geraniums to the annoyance of some in the Pelargonium and Geraniums society.

Geraniums Again From a Personal point of View

  1. This post is intended to force me to follow up my good intentions to grow more and better geraniums.
  2. My first early horticultural memory is of pot plants grown on windowsills by my mother 60 years ago. The colour and unique musty scent of the leaves lingers somewhere in my brain. I do not remember the pink variety but it seemed vaguely dutch and royal and it certainly ‘was a good dooer’.
  3. Traditionally I garden by numbers and go for volume, the more the merrier (and usually the more cramped).
  4. An aspiration here is to grow fewer, show quality plants.
  5. Again I also want some house plants to give away as I think they make nice gifts and are easyish for the novice to cultivate and enjoy.
  6. My record keeping has been spasmodic over the years so it needs more attention.
  7. So may be  the start of a series of pages noting how I get on or at least a way of keeping my nose to the ground.

Princess of Wales Conservatory Kew Garden June 2019


Aquatic and Aquarium Plant Tips

Like good gardeners, aquarists spend time and effort creating living conditions that approximate to those of the natural environment of their plants.

There are over 8000 species of fresh-water plants divided into 400+ genera and many are available for sale in Europe. Like garden plants some prefer max-min pH levels and others hard or soft water.


  • Plants do not enjoy being transported in packed conditions or transplanted to often. Try buy fresh plants as soon as they arrive at a trusted retailer.
  • The foliage of Myriophylles and Cabomba should be fresh green and errect. Vallisneria leaf edges shouldn’t be torn and Crypyto coryne foliage shoudn’t have brown markings.
  • Non-aquatic plants are sometimes sold as aquatic but cannot be grown properly in an aquarium. They include genera including Aglaonema, Didiplis, Dracaenia and Cordylina.
  • Plants can make useful breeding grounds for many fish species.
  • The heart or neck of the plant should not be covered in gravel.

Check out best and popular aquatic plants on aquarium advisor.



Growing My Vegetables in Containers

Potato sacks

You can grow fresh relatively clean vegetables in containers. This is useful for gardeners with restricted space or where you want vegetables close to the kitchen door.

Selecting Containers

  • Growbags get there name for a good reason. They are the first container to consider for vegetables.
  • Old large plant pots are fine as long as you clean them thoroughly. Disinfect with jeyes fluid in necessary.
  • Your own selection of containers, troughs, window boxes, even old drain pipes may be brought into service.
  • Depth for most crops should be at least 1 foot to avoid watering problems.
  • I use an old dustbin to grow ‘large long’ vegetables – it doesn’t always work but they do attract attention.

Compost or Soil

  • To get good results we recommend using sterilised potting media
  • John Innes No 3 holds nutrient, water and has some weight and body.
  • Proprietary potting compost are equally of use.
  • Good quality loam or garden soil will be fine but may lack nutrient, harbour insects and disease.
  • Mix in 20% of well rotted manure if you wish to grow organically.

Crop Selection

  • Sow Broad Beans from February 6-8″ apart.
  • Round carrots like Nantes and Amsterdam sown from February to June. The pots height can stop or deter carrot root fly.
  • Herbs and salad crops do well in containers. Small lettuce can be sown successively from January
  • Potatoes are my favourite as they come out clean and problem free. You can grow lots of varieties this way. One tuber for every foot of container diameter.
  • Peas with edible pods can be sown from March as can beetroot.

I start a few seed potatoes as soon as they arrive, end January/February. They are just starting to flower so I can pick some fresh tubers anytime from now on. They were in a double container if you count the greenhouse and vertical grow  bag.
I cover with fleece in very cold weather and happily move the pots for protection of the really early spuds. If the crop fails I have only lost a bit of effort and I can get on with full quantities in March.

Early Salad Varieties of Potato

Aim for a waxy texture with your salad potatoes and you will probably get some of the best flavoured spuds you have had in a Salad. Waxy potatoes remain intact after cooking and do not go into the water. Waxy potatoes tend to be Early to crop 75 -95 days. Waxy potatoes lend themselves to growing in large pots, barrels or containers.

Charlotte is resistant to blight and has a good cooked waxy texture. Continue Reading →


Flowering Cherry Trees in Parkland

Cherry blossom time strikes again in this public park. The colour is saturated until the rain comes and the ground is then saturated by fallen petals.

Cherry Picking Some Points of Note

  • I was taken with the grouping of these trees that were planted close together many years ago. The combined fluorescence is amplified in this park land setting. Still we can consider groups of various plants in our own gardens to good effect.
  • The probable shape of trees in bloom should be considered when planting along with the likely spread and height. This triangular canopy of flowering cherry’s could be thought of as a flattened cone.
  • For more growing shapes of flowering cherry trees read GTips
  • Varieties of flowering cherry trees can be found to suit most gardens but the expanse of green grass in these photographs adds contrast.

Continue Reading →


Larch a Conifer for Bonsai or Forests

There are two common species of larch Larix kaempferi (aka leptolepis  the Japanese Larch) and European Larch Larix decidua. As the name implies the Larch looses their tufted leaves in autumn. They grow in most conditions but do not like wet or chalky soil

European larch is a large tree up to 100 feet tall.  It is conical in shape when young. It has a tendency to  lose its lower branches.  The drooping branches display a greyish colour. The European larch has longer needles than other Larches.

The Japanese larch has shoots of reddish brown. It has a rosette of neat shorter needles. It is a very hardy species grown in forests for timber.

Other Larch species include Siberian larch Larix sibirica and the  Russian larch,  Larix potaninii is a species  found in China and Nepal. Larix principis-rupprechtii, the Prince Rupprecht’s larch is also from china

Read our Root and Branch review of the Common Larch

Bonsai with Larch

  • The larch is a popular outdoor Bonsai species. Particularly the Japanese Larch Larix kaempferi.
  • The trunks grow thickly and relatively quickly. Uncharacteristic shapes can be pruned in.
  • The trees displays seasonal colours bright green in spring then  foliage darkens during summer and turns  golden yellow before falling in autumn.
  • Do not be concerned if some exposed roots peek out from the soil.
  • More information from south devon bonsai society.
  • Foliage darkens during summer and in autumn turns bright gold.

Continue Reading →


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