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:
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.
There is a place for everything and with everything in its place we disrupt it at our peril.
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.)
If trees have social networking with many skills similar to human abilities and traits, then what else can our gardens teach us.
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.
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
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.
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’.
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
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).
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.
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.