Monday, 9 September 2013

Snail City

OUR garden is like a convention for slugs and snails. I’m serious. I could supply all the restaurants in France with them.

And our slugs don’t just stop at the leaves. Oh no. They even eat the flowers as well.

hosters ravaged by slugs and snails
On a visit to a garden centre the other day I picked up what I thought was the answer to my prayers.

A bottle of slug formula that you let down and then water the plants with. I duly followed the instructions.

It’s clearly powerful stuff as it killed my gorgeous gerbera but failed to deter the slimy pests.

In fact they’ve eaten more than before. Perhaps they thrive on it. A bit like the wildlife in the immediate vicinity of the Chernobyl disaster.

I can’t use slug pellets as my Jack Russell is attracted to them as well as the slugs.

Since taking up gardening a few mysteries have puzzled me. We have day lilies. One day I decided to photograph them. When I looked out of the window they looked like they had died over night.

drooping day lillies

A few days later they appeared to come back to life. Maybe they are just camera shy?

I have also discovered that if any water hits flowers when you are watering plants they seem to rot away and die.

If this is the case how do plants survive outside when it rains? If anyone has the answer to any of these mysteries please email me.

I also need to discover whether a holly bush in my garden is in fact poison ivy. 

mystery ivy

I thought that only existed in America but when I pruned it the other day I came out in a rash and was itching for days.

Our back garden is improving though. 


panoramic view of the garden


The other day I cleared all the weeds and rocks from the side of the shed.



I plan to put down scree to stop weeds coming up and make it look smarter. 

I also plan a vegetable patch at the bottom of the garden if I can make them grow in partial shade. 

Again if anyone knows the answer to this please contact me.

I have decided to plant snowdrop bulbs under the holly trees.

Seeds I have planted in the past have failed to come up as promised but I will have to wait until next Spring to find out if I really do have a green thumb.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Southport Flower Show

IT was Gardening Girl’s first visit to Southport Flower Show.

The show, held over four days boasted everything from spectacular blooms to fruit and veg displays, artwork, crafts and family entertainment.

The site is huge and it took me several hours walking around capturing the floral splendor.

Keith Partington (pictured) was drawing in the customers with his magnificent tower of sunflowers.

The Amateur Gardeners Tent boasted amazing flower, fruit and vegetable displays.

Over in the Grand Marquee I snapped gladioli, scented oriental lilies and begonias.

In the Floral Art tent were inventive displays. Unsurprisingly this particular display caught my eye.

This representation of sushi also impressed me. Incidentally my photo homes in on the sushi part for artistic reasons. The actual display was much bigger.

These gorgeous hardy perennials and grasses demonstrating late summer flowering was created by Sue Beesley of Bluebell Cottage Gardens Nursery in Cheshire.

I also checked out these bonsai trees.

All this photo taking is hungry work. I decided to stop for a hog roast roll. Unfortunately everyone else had the same idea and there seemed to be only one stall selling them.

The show is not just confined to flower displays. I was very tempted by the novelty wooden solar-powered paperweight/calculator at the wood turners tent.

And over in the crafts marquee I was talked into buying some crystal goblets, made and hand painted in Jerusalem by a handsome Palestinian man.

The crowd was entertained with a thrilling jousting match between the black knight and the good guy Thatcher.

“You guys are getting bloodthirsty,” the compere remarked as the crowd urged Thatcher to chop off the black knight’s head.

Intelligent dogs and clowns on tricycles provided other entertainment in the arena.

I picked up some miniature daffodil bulbs for the garden before leaving.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

After my success in resurrecting half-dead orchids I have been searching the Internet for fellow fanatics.

I came across the website of the North of England Orchid Society with details of an annual orchid showcase.

Unfortunately I missed it by days but discovered that a smaller show was being staged deep in the Cheshire countryside.

After tapping the details into my sat nav I was taken through breathtaking countryside before ending up in a pretty village.

The venue was opposite the village pub packed with families and visitors to a farmers market.

As I walked into the community hall I could almost imagine tumbleweed rolling across the floor in front of me.

It was virtually deserted apart from four elderly orchid lovers standing behind their stalls.

The woman behind the entry desk looked up from her cup of tea blinking in surprise at finally encountering a visitor. “Oh no dear. You don’t have to pay to come in,” she smiled.

The show was small with only a few blooms but some truly spectacular specimens. 

The Best in Show was a huge towering orchid with matching vertical rows of jawdropping white blooms.

How would the winner would have managed such a feat I asked?

Heated greenhouses are the secret one craggy-faced stallholder confided. 

In Holland they can get better flowers because they don’t have to abide by the same horticultural rules as the British, he added.

As I browsed his stall he held up a pot which contained bunches of fat green pods.

I couldn’t help being reminded of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a creepy 1950s science-fiction movie where aliens grow doubles of the townspeople in pods. I knew I had to own it.

“It’s a Coelogyne cristata”, he explained. “Very easy to look after”.

Coelogyne cristata

As I was leaving the elderly woman by the door offered some words of advice. 

“Keep all your orchids in a tub on the floor. That way you can have more in a restricted space”. 

As I left the cries rang in my ears. “She’s got the bug all right. Join us.” Just what the alien invaders would have said.

Some other orchids I snapped up on the day.
Dendrobium nobile virginalis

Dendrobium Kingianum

Monday, 5 August 2013

Killing sunflowers

IT was like a nuclear wasteland.

Well maybe not that bad.

I hated the overgrown borders outside our back door, the slug infested hosta plants and selection of broken plant pots littering the floor.

It was time to branch out from saving orchids and do a mini makeover.

I had already acquired three nearly dead supermarket mini sunflowers at the bargain price of 35p.

I arranged them in plant holders on the trellis and began faithfully watering them, allowing the water to drain out.

They were doing well until I decided to save time by using a larger watering can. The water landed on the flowers causing them to curl up and die.

Heading off eagerly to the garden centre I had stopped at the traffic lights when a distracted mum cannoned into the back of my little Ford Ka.

After exchanging details I faced a dilemma. Should I carry on to the garden centre to pick up the plants I wanted or take the sensible option and go home?

I drove to the garden centre where I picked up begonias, chrysanthemums, coleus, creepers and alpines.

As I left there was a slight problem when I realized that the boot would no longer lock. I spent a hair-raising journey home praying we didn’t go over any speed humps.

There followed a backbreaking afternoon of humping sacks of compost around, ripping out nasty looking foliage and replacing with colourful plants.

I planted out some containers remembering to place bits of broken polystyrene at the bottom to stop the holes from getting clogged with compost.

I even created my own hanging basket with creepers and snapdragons after slashing the plastic lining again to allow drainage before adding compost.

And the sunflowers are making a come-back with new yellow flowers starting to peep through the thick green leaves.

Although the result is beautiful I can’t help feeling that I can do things more cheaply next time.

Several gardening magazines are offering packets of free seeds which might be the way to go for a carer on a limited budget.

Today? I’m off to the doctor with whiplash injuries.