Planting a native species persuasion hedge

Planting fifty-five feet of ‘persuasion hedging’ and creating a front border.

My 1950s house sits amongst many, with lots of mature green open spaces around, including five children’s play parks within about five minutes walk of my front door.

Despite this, I found that last summer, the local kids would spend more time in my front garden in one day, than I ever did in a year.

It’s about 55 feet long, and predominantly weed-filled grass. A nasty looking, wonky but very sturdy, rusty, 3 foot high metal white fence runs along one edge, and immediately on the other side is a public footpath down the side of my property to one of the many play parks. The fence is not mine… sadly. The front is open to the pavement and road, and the other side is my driveway – so, it’s open on two sides.

However, this sturdy but nasty fence has been a favourite thing for kids to climb – I’m sure i’d have wanted to do it when I was their age, so I can understand why. However, now that I’m a miserable bill-paying adult, I don’t want the neighbourhood kids in my garden, dancing around my lawn and climbing the fence.

I’ve very carefully and politely asked a few not to do it because it’s not safe, and not their garden. All obeyed my request at the time, but several took delight in disobeying later. One young girl also scales neighbours six foot fence to steal apples and pears – sounding like something out of a 1950s Ladybird book!

I therefore dug a border up to the fence, and planted 55 feet of Hawthorn ‘Crataegus Monogyna’ and Blackthorn ‘Prunus Spinosa’ along it, and dug a border at the front of the garden along the path. I’ve planted a few shrubs and roses in that front border, and the kids seem to have finally gotten the idea.

The hedge is of native species of Hawthorn and Blackthorn.
The hedge is of native species of Hawthorn and Blackthorn and should hide an ugly fence, and provide for wildlife.

I’m hoping that in March, the Hawthorn and Blackthorn all begin to bud and burst out green shoots.

Blackthorn blossom
This Blackthorn used to grow on my walking route from my old house. Look at the flowers, at the flowers, at the… OUCH!

I purchased these plants from Hedge Nursery in Telford, Shropshire, back in August at the height of the kids use of my garden (about 10 a day across my lawn), and they were delivered at the start of November as bare-root 2yr old plants. I soon set about planting them out, and heeled in a load of spare ones in the back garden in case not all of them took.

freshly dug front border garden
The front border has roses and various shrubs to close in the front of the garden.

So, hopefully, come March the thorny ‘persuasion hedge‘ will begin to come to life. I’m hoping it does three things:

  1. Screens an ugly rusty metal fence that I can’t affect
  2. Provides 55ft of native species hedging and berries for local wildlife
  3. Encourages kids to walk around a stranger’s garden

I’d like to think that options 1 and 2 will work well at least – and hopefully it’ll be a well established hedge, hiding the ugly fence (I’ll need to cut it to about the same height), and provide a home to a few happy birds nests¬†by the time I think of selling and moving on.

My neighbour whose driveway joins mine, sympathised and suggested barbed-wire! ūüėÄ

Choosing the Roses for the new garden

I beg your pardon, I most certainly did promise myself a rose garden – and I’m choosing the rose plants now.

Over the last 2-3 weeks, I’ve had Roses on my mind. I love them, and in particular, I love sticking my nose in them and having a sniff, or even walking up to them and being enveloped by a beautiful fragrance.

With my new garden just 10 days¬†away, I’m reminded that it’s devoid of any plant other than patchy grass and a few brambles in the backyard, so I’ve got a blank canvas, and I need to add roses in there for those moments of early evening fragrant wafts as I sit out on my patio and survey my Eden. Well, you know what I mean.

I happened to be in Ely on market day a couple of times over those weeks, and I spotted a stall offering 2 hybrid tea roses for £5 (or £3 each). They had all sorts and of a good size.

My first visit saw me pick one ‘very fragrant’ red rose named Rose ‘Ernest H Morse’, which I bought, almost with a ‘it’s too early’/’at least get the keys first’ guilty feeling. It’s a lovely plant, and I hope that it goes on to bring the fragrant red blooms that the label promises.

Rose 'Ernest H Morse'
Rose ‘Ernest H Morse’

Then on Saturday, I walked by again and once again they had the same offer. This time, I had little guilt and so bought 2 more – this time a pinky one Rose ‘Fragrant Cloud – Tanellis’, and a golden yellow Rose ‘Just Joey’. Again, these look like good plants, and they’re all marked as very fragrant.

Rose 'Fragrant Cloud - Tanellis'
Rose ‘Fragrant Cloud – Tanellis’
Rose 'Just Joey'
Rose ‘Just Joey’

I can’t wait to plant them into my new garden, alongside the Rosa that I rescued from Poundland a month or so ago.

There’s an alpaca farm and horse stables near my new house… I wonder whether I can get a free bucket of manure for them…

Thanks again for reading, and happy gardening!


Tulips in the wind

The Tulips are in bloom, the seeds are sown, and the snails are marauding.

I’ve been delayed this year as I’ve been busy doing a ton of other things¬†instead, but I’ve set some seeds and they now start their merry crusade.

I’ve just set the seeds for a few of the plants I want to grow this year. There’s no ‘new faces’ this time.

Before I go into detail, I’ve had a quick look around my garden to see what’s going on this week. The Tulip ‘Negrita’ bulbs are all flowering,¬†and¬†the Broom¬†‘Cytisus Scoparius’ and Forsythia are all teetering on the edge of opening their yellow flowers.¬† This is a welcome blast of colour in the garden, where the only other colours are green, silver (the latter from the Cineraria that’s still going strong from 2 years ago!).

Tulip 'Negrita'
Tulip ‘Negrita’
Broom 'Cytisus Scoparius' is on the verge of blooming.
Broom ‘Cytisus Scoparius’ is on the verge of blooming.

I’ve sown some more French Bean ‘Blue Lake’ as they have never failed to provide me with a nice regular crop of green beans.

Joining them are Sweet Pea ‘Floral Tribute Mixed’. Sweet Peas have been struggling in my garden – partly at the wrath of slugs, snails, and aphids, but mainly at the wrath of wind and sun – those that survive being nibbled through, go on to be blown to bits or fried before they get very far up the canes to flower.

Nasturtium ‘Jewel Mix’ return – the hover fly’s (and sadly caterpillar’s) favourite. I lure the hoverflies in because they eat a vast amount of aphids that attack the roses and the sweet peas.

The final sowing today has been more of the wonderful flat-leaf Parsley ‘Laura’ – which aside from being very good for you, is also wonderful with scrambled egg (and i eat a lot of eggs).

Parsley 'Laura' - just 20 days old.
Parsley ‘Laura’ – it will be ready in about 20 days.

It took me just a few minutes to sow these into pots, plop them into the propagator on my spare room windowsill, and give them that all important first watering in.

The next bit, is up to fate.

Last year’s Aubrieta ‘Cheeky Mix’ are ready to be planted out, having survived wind, constant rain, and a marauding¬†wheelie bin.

I’ve decided that the slug and snail ‘meet and greet’ sessions need to begin now, as the Hollyhock ‘Single Mixed’ that I bought the other week, has already sustained heavy damage, and I haven’t planted it out yet. I thought it’s hairy stems might exclude it from the slug and snails’ menu… but it seems they found a way to get to the leaves by scaling nearby pots. I’ve moved it away from them, as I don’t think they’d jump or parachute in.

Hollyhock Single Mixed - snail battered
Hollyhock ‘Single Mixed’ – snail attacked

In other news, my neighbour has cut back a big piece of a large tree in her garden, and this has really let a lot of light in. I wonder how this will affect the garden? More light, yes, but more wind too?

Three Peacocks arrive in the garden

Three beautiful Peacocks arrive in the garden today…

I was just leaving my house to do my weekly shop – it was about 6:45pm, and not even sunshining – and I spotted three beautiful Peacock Butterflies¬†Inachis io’¬†on my White Buddleja.

Had to take photos whilst they all sat their gently fanning their wings.

Peacock Butterfly
Peacock Butterfly
Peacock Butterfly
Peacock Butterfly
Peacock Butterfly
Peacock Butterfly
Peacock Butterfly
Peacock Butterfly

The snails and aphids celebrate in the summer rain

The summer showers welcome some hungry pests into the garden, just as the Rose and the French Beans are about to put on a show.

There’s just been a short rain shower – enough to stop me being outside in it – but as soon as it stopped I was out there to meet the unwelcome visitors that are enjoying my green finger skills.

The French Bean ‘Blue Lake’ that I planted out only a few days ago, have seen two of the plants stripped completely of buds, shoots and leaves. These snails move fast. But today I moved quicker, and with the rain on a momentary pause, I went out and immediately pulled 8 small snails off of the beans. It seems that they’re using other plants to get them up and onto the bean leaves… and then they work their way up or down, decimating the plant until it’s a just lanky stem resembling a continuous chain of arms and elbows. I don’t know if they’ll re-grow, but i’ve got seed.

The Rose
This Rose was already in the garden when I moved here.

Not far away, is the Rose (of an unknown variety). It was already in the garden and clearly hadn’t been in place for many years. Still, it has flowered without fail – sometimes reaching two seasons of flowers in a year. This year though, after pruning it hard, it is full of lush growth and green leaves, and lots of buds.

Today, it is also full of lush green aphids.

Aphids on a rose bush
The Aphids have moved in. I just hope they don’t spot the Sweet Peas nearby.

Having witnessed them obliterate last year’s sweet peas, I was gutted. There’s not enough Ladybirds around yet to feast that lot, and the Hoverflies aren’t about due to the rubbish weather… so it’s down to some manual techniques to usher them away – a piece of tissue and some careful squeezing (not to damage the rose buds), or maybe some diluted washing-up liquid. Aphids breathe through their skin – so if you clog that with an oily washing-up liquid mix, they suffocate and die. Gruesome but fortunately true.

Again, not far away are this year’s Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’ – they’re looking stunted at the moment, and not much different from when I planted them out weeks ago. I know that the aphids will show them no mercy, so I will need to deal with these aphids sooner rather than later.

For now though, it’s the snails that are top of my hit list.

The Magical Powers of April Showers

After some heavy April showers, the garden has leapt forwards with lush growth and flowers, but there’s still plenty more seeds to sow… including some for next year’s garden!

There’s a drought on at the moment but whilst I do live in the dry of East Anglia, my water provider (Cambridge Water Company) has not imposed a hosepipe ban. This has been a hot topic of conversation here on local radio and television but it wouldn’t really affect my garden as it is small enough to cope with lots of watering cans and buckets when it comes to it.

Wallflower 'Ruby Gem' about to bloom.
The Wallflower ‘Ruby Gem’ were planted out last year and are now starting to flower.

Fortunately though we did see a few days of refreshing rain (albeit typically and neatly fitted into a bank holiday/Easter weekend!) and then a few days of sunshine. This has resulted in a surge of lush green growth from things like the Wallflower ‘Ruby Gem’ plants that I planted out last year which are just starting to flower, the hardy Welsh Onion¬†‘Allium Fistulosum’ and Caraway ‘Carum Carvi’ herbs are also lush green, ¬†and those pretty¬†Daylily ‘Hemerocallis Bonanza’¬†have thrown-up lots of leaves.

The Broom ‘Cytisus Scoparius’ is on flower, and with it a delicate scent wafts closely to it’s branches. I’ve just captured a few photos of a large bee collecting pollen from the bright yellow flowers.

Bee and the Broom
A bee on a mission as it collects pollen from this flowering Broom ‘Cytisus Scoparius’.

With this warmer and rainy weather around, I’ve started putting the Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’ outside so that they can begin adjusting to the different environment. I’m bringing them inside at night as we’re still seeing low temperatures. Leaving them out all night might be too much of a shock for them.¬†They were lucky to receive rain on their first day outside too!

The Chives and Parsley ‘Moss Curled’ that I sowed a month ago are now at the pricking-out stage. I also planted some Coriander on 1st April, to make up the third pot of the BBC Gardeners’ World herb kit. Some of these have germinated too but will need a couple more weeks before they will be potted on.

Two Pepper (Sweet) 'Friggitello' plants grown from seed.
The Pepper (Sweet) ‘Friggitello’ plants are growing well.

Those two Pepper (Sweet) ‘Friggitello’ plants that I grew from seeds given to me by team CBM, are now several inches high, one of them requires a support cane. I’m sure it won’t be many weeks until they’ll need potting on again before finally going outside to hopefully produce their fruit in July-October time.

Yet to sow in april…

  • Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ – my third sowing of this variety. They were plentiful in year 1, but poor in year 2 – having suffered from mildew.
  • Night Scented Stock ‘Matthiola Bicornis’¬†– This will be my first sowing of these, and they are sown directly outside.
  • Dill – I’ve missed not having Dill around for cooking – the leaves and seeds can be used for flavouring dishes, and in pickling, and can be used to aid digestion.
  • Delphinium ‘Pacific Giants Mixed’ – I’ve always liked the towering spires of Delphiniums (like the Foxgloves), so as with the Foxgloves, ¬†I shall sow some of these now for flowering in next year’s garden.

The Rose returns and next year’s garden is growing

The Rose returns to bloom; the Foxgloves for next year have been potted-on; the Rocket is almost ready to pick.

This week, the inherited and anonymous¬†Rose bush has started its second season of flowering. It’s first season tends to be more pinky before having about 6 weeks off, and this second session (which the camera just couldn’t cope with accurately portraying) is a bright near-fluorescent orange.

A red/orange Rose on flower.
The mystery Rose bush begins to flower.

I’ll need to keep an eye on the Rose as I don’t want it to bring the aphids back, especially as the Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’ have recovered and begin flowering on mass.

Today I discovered a secret courgette hiding in amongst some large leaves. It’s really knobbly. Maybe this is down to it having been growing on the plant for too long? I’ll be putting some of my Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ to good use again soon with the discovery of Lemony Courgette Cake (thanks to the Horticultural TV Channel) and to making some more Eden Project Garden Courgette and Tomato Chutney, which my parents have been enjoying. I ‘rebranded it’ as ‘Tomato Chutney’ as my Dad “hates” courgettes, despite enjoying the chutney. Don’t tell him (my mother is in on this).

Foxglove 'Excelsior Hybrids Mixed'
Foxglove ‘Excelsior Hybrids Mixed’

I’ve also been pricking-out the¬†Foxglove ‘Excelsior Hybrids Mixed’ seedlings that I sowed in a tray back in June. In total, there’s about 60 plants now, which can grow on and be potted up again before being planted out for next year’s season. This might seem a bit laborious but when the plants are expensive to buy individually, I’ve essentially got 60 foxglove plants for the price of one – and there’s still a lot more seeds left – I got them from Thompson & Morgan. The bees seem to love them.

The Rocket ‘Skyrocket’ is almost at picking stage – which is good news as the hot weather has been creating a salad shortage in my local supermarket. Seeing as I live on salads all year round, having my own crop is great.