Practical Gardening

At our September meeting we widely discussed the impact of this year’s hot weather on our gardens with many of the group having lost plants etc and/or the lawn being badly affected. It was agreed that watering the garden had had little impact and most  had found buckets of water to be far more effective in soaking the soil around plants. Buried upside down plastic bottles full of water with ‘drip holes’ had been found useful in getting the water deep to the roots of plants in pots as had ‘weeping’ hose pipes which feature lines of regular holes to slowly water the area. Plants variously affected /lost to the weather had been hebe’s, sweet peas and roses in particular. One member had a rose which had totally changed from its’ usual’ colour of white to orange which was felt to be a possible kickback to its hybridisation.  Members had however had great success this summer with runner beans, cucumbers , climbing roses, cyclamen, agapanthus, delphiniums, lavender,  tagettes, beans and peas . Lots of caterpillars and cabbage white butterflies had been around this year.

Having ‘completely lost’ her lawn to the hot weather one member researched and shared the following lawn recovery plan which she is using to good effect so far: Cut any remaining grass short and scarify it, rake up cut grass and get as much bare soil showing as you can, spread lawn seed evenly and then rake the seed in. Spread  top dressing over the seeds evenly and then  water the seeded area well .Don’t cut the grass until it is at least 2 inches high.

We mused about what we could successfully grow in future if very hot summer temperatures became the norm. Grasses, Banana trees , Agapanthus and Olive trees were favoured by some.

One member described that he has a well established   ‘mini forest’ of miniature trees’  with lots of tiny oak and other trees. including a ‘liquid amber tree’.   the cold winter had resulted in lots of oak seedlings which are growing well. A ‘Chiltern’ seed catalogue was shared which contained many many unusual varieties of tree seeds

Whilst some of the group were using ‘Waspinators’ (false wasps nests) to discourage wasps coming into the garden, with mixed results, we heard that wasps don’t like mint; recipe for success was described as ‘mix mint oil (available at Holland and Barrett)  with water and spray this in the vicinity of wasps to encourage them to leave the garden.’

Samples of several members excellent home produced compost were compared. Broadly all had used ripped up cardboard, fruit and vedg peelings and grass cutting and leaves but not privets, and all had ben careful to ensure the heap did not dry out. All estimated the process to good compost took around 12 months RHS advice on producing excellent compost is at:

.At our October meeting we updated on how members’ lawns were recovering with most doing well but possibly with some areas that would need reseeding.

One member had planted a new border in mainly pink/white and purple which had been very successful. Another member shared that she had made sure she deadheaded all plants as needed  daily this year and had seen a marked difference in how productive plants had been. We discussed bulbs to plant for spring  with the tulips Westpoint and Apricot Beauty (left) being particular favourites and a group order was agreed. Nerine – ‘jersey lilies’  were also greatly admired. We were advised that nerine bulbs must not be buried; the tips of the bulbs need to be left protruding out of the soil. We shared that birds seem to go for yellow crocuses and that poorly flowering daffodils can be ‘revitalised’ by planting in good compost in pots to be planted out later if desired.

One member had had a particular problem with horse/marestail weeds and recommended using the Systemic weedkiller spray made by Neurdorff to clear this  One highlight of our meeting was a plant swap where we started with a large table full of ‘surplus’ plants (missed photo opportunity sorry) and all gained 3 or 4 new plants to enhance our gardens.





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