Garden School:

Garden School:
Teaching this week: Rose pruning (as always!) and water management

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Contractors: really useless at planting native hedges

There is a new housing development near to where I live, and as part of the "sweetening" to local councillors, the builders - Bovis - have allocated an area for a "wildlife reserve". I put that in quotes, as it comprises a small wedge of land on the edge of the estate, with a series of deep holes, now filling with water, to provide ponds.

No-one seems to have thought about how the ponds are going to be topped up and kept fresh, and I don't think rainwater alone will be enough. At present they are being filled by overflow from a natural spring some way uphill which, this year, is flowing along the path and down into the "reserve" and is doing a cracking job of filling the ponds. However, this spring is not a regular one: all the locals to whom I have talked agree that we have never seen it flowing so much, and flooding over the path so badly.

Presumably the creation of wildlife ponds was in response to finding Great Crested Newts on the fields on which they planned to build: I know they are there, as I get them in my front garden in wintertime, and I live only about 100 yards uphill of the building site.

All that notwithstanding, it was the planting of the native hedging that really got me going.

Here it is: the photo is taken through the metal grid of the security fence.

Now, what does that look like, to you?

Like someone has tipped out a barrow-load of tree protectors?

That's what I thought, until I looked more closely.

Unbelievably, there are tree saplings inside each one. Half of them have fallen over, as you can see, so the sapling has been bent or snapped off.
It appears that whatever useless employee planted them did not bother to push the canes into the ground at all.

The only good thing to say that at least it was not done by the local council, so it's not our tax money going to waste!

Unfortunately the site  is heavily fenced, so I can't get over there to sort them out

What a mess, eh?


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Field Guide to Identifying Bryony and Nightshades in the UK

Here we go, another Field Guide hits the virtual shelves of Amazon -

and it's FREE to download. if you have Amazon Unlimited, or Amazon Prime.

Why Bryony and Nightshades?

Well, this one started because there are three climbing, twining plants commonly found in hedgerows - two types of Bryony, along with Bittersweet, or woody nightshade. Having included one of the nightshades, it made sense to put the others in the same book.

It's an important group to learn, as all but one of them are poisonous.

I suppose it could be said that, having established that anything found climbing in a hedgerow with green or red berries is probably poisonous, you don't really need to know which is which.

However, I like to know these things, and I expect that other people do, too. 

So there you are, no excuse for getting it wrong: get out there and check your local hedgerows this weekend.

Monday, 8 June 2015

"Looking after Tony Aster trees"

It always intrigues and amuses me to see what search terms have lead people here, and this is one that came up last week.

Yes, someone actually put the above phrase into google, and lo! and behold, this blog is third on the page, after something about bonsai trees, and a link to a poor chap who is actually called Tony Aster.

My blog came up third because I made a wrote an article about pruning a shrubby Cotoneaster a while ago, and in it I said "Which, to clarify, is pronounced K'tony-aster. Not cotton-easter!"

It's an excellent example of one of those horticultural names which is hard to pronounce, like hemerocallis (Heemer-O'callis). I am always careful not to laugh when working or teaching, if people pronounce things in a strange way. I always tell them how I think it is pronounced, but I always make a point of telling them that in most cases, no-one knows for certain, as most plant names are a mix of latin (dead language, no-one alive today knows how it was really pronounced) greek and other stuff all thrown together, so there is no shame in getting it wrong, if you have only ever seen it written down. However, there are some ways of pronouncing things which have become generally accepted, and I think it is only kind to point them out.

So I am very happy to think that someone out there, somewhere, who doesn't know a great deal about their plants, but is sufficiently interested to try googling what they sound like, has found the answer, found some information about the plant, and has found out how to pronounce it, and how to spell it properly, so that they can go on to look it up elsewhere.

*sighs happily*