I Come to the Garden Alone: 2024 Gardening Thread

TrudyTrudy Heaven Host
Please continue all discussion of green and growing things here on this fresh, newly-sprouted thread. The 2023 gardening thread will be closed, but will remain on the board for a little while in case anyone wants to re-pot a question or discussion from there to here.


  • I’ve recently done a head count of plants in my living room and it’s sitting at 29 with six more on order. This seems excessive. But I can’t have a pet at the moment so I suppose I have to compensate somehow.

    Meanwhile outdoors I seem to have killed the mint but kept the geranium cuttings and succulents kicking.
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    edited January 12
    @Lots of Yay I had to say goodbye to my beloved small dogs last week and have turned to potted plants for consolation. It is too hot (southern hemisphere) for doing any planting outdoors and my partner doesn't like indoor plants but on the small verandah or stoep I have been repotting slipper orchids, pelargoniums, helichrysum, spathe lilies, aeoniums, echeveria, daylilies and herbs (thyme, apple thyme and a lively mint). This has taken two large bags of potting soil mixed with organic compost. Everything is desperately over-watered and I should probably leave well enough alone now.
  • Can adjust the indoor figure to 28. I killed the Christmas tree.

    I believe one of my cuttings is a pelargonium!

    I do not have the problem of overwatering. Mine suffer more from neglect than excess love.
  • carexcarex Shipmate
    We only have about 17 indoor plants at the moment, including one that had to endure the indignity of being "modified" to serve as our Christmas Tree.

    Our current problem, however, is the jade plant/tree that outgrew the living room, and now lives in a pot on the patio. It is not hardy below freezing, and our current weather is -9C / +15F with snow and ice. For the winter I built a wood frame covered with Remay cloth for it, along with a heater and thermostat set for +5C / +40F. This morning it was down to +3C / 36F, so I had to brave the weather to add more layers of Remay, until the heater could keep it at temperature. Several other plants got covered / wrapped to try to keep them from freezing as well, but fortunately I could do that when the weather was still above freezing.
  • Oh dear, my lemon tree is so full that it is starting to lean, My neighbor helped me pick two large baskets full and we put them on the curb with bags and a sign-saying free lemons. So far not many takers. I am afraid I may have to throw them out. What a waste.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    Preserved lemons?

    Admittedly you have to be into middle-eastern cuisine to use them - but they do keep for ages.
  • Firenze wrote: »
    Preserved lemons?

    Admittedly you have to be into middle-eastern cuisine to use them - but they do keep for ages.

    I used to love them. but alas I am on a low sodium diet. Thanks for the idea I will make some copies and post them with my post for free lemons. It might inspire.

  • I am responsible for a garden...but I'm not much of a gardener. So I wonder if I can ask a question about frost damage.

    My 'hardy' fuchsia (I actually bought this one as a small plant and 10 years on, it sometimes does OK) lost all its leaves and flowers on our first frost about 6 weeks ago. Last year it did the same, and all the growth it had died - but it came back really strong in the spring from the ground up and ended up bigger than before, perhaps because by now it has decent roots. Is this likely to be the pattern (shall I cut the woody stuff down to the ground now?) or might it grow from some of the woody stuff this year (so wait, wheat and tares and all that)?

    And the next frost we had, a couple of days ago, seems to have caused most of the leaves on a firethorn (I can't spell its real name reliably) to wilt. I inherited this one with living here, so it's a good 30 years old and the main stems are about an inch and a half thick. Is it likely to come back?

    Many thanks
  • DiomedesDiomedes Shipmate
    m_in_m - my gardening instinct would be to leave them alone until the Spring leaves start to appear on other shrubs. If there are no signs of life by then I'd scape a little bit of bark away from a branch and see if it was green underneath. A bit of pruning when the danger of frost is over sometimes acts like a jump-start!
  • OK, that's very helpful - thanks!
  • North East QuineNorth East Quine Purgatory Host
    I have discovered that a gardener from my village developed several plants in the mid C19th.

    Is there any way of finding out whether it is still possible to buy seeds for any of these? I've tried googling them to no avail.

    There's a rose, a rhododendron, a pansy, a cabbage, a fuschia, seven cinerarias, a pelargonium and a dianthus. I'd particularly like one or more of the cinerarias, but would be interested in anything.
  • Phone up the RHS or similar. In summer Syon Park nursery has an enquiry desk, so maybe try them. Also Kew.
  • North East QuineNorth East Quine Purgatory Host
    Thank you.
  • One of our neighbours has a front garden full of snowdrops, how lovely to see them. Our garden in Norfolk has a lot, but a bit early yet.
  • ArielAriel Shipmate
    Fourth day of pruning. It's very satisfying to finally be able to start to tidy up the garden, and now that the fence has finally been repaired, I can start to plan what might go in the now well-trodden-on area next to it.

    The only problem with all this pruning is that when you go out for a break you start to realize how untidy some of the trees and hedges you see elsewhere on the road are, and wish you'd brought a pair of secateurs.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    edited January 30
    For some reason I have very little snowdrop action, the hellebores are still cowering under their leaves, but I have several clumps of primrose and the daffodils are coming up apace.

    I so want to start ordering plants, but I know it's too cold, too wet, too soon.
  • I have plenty of double snowdrops in what is a rhubarb bed for most of the year. Bar one or two the rest of my snowdrops, planted in the lawn, have not appeared. I have come to the conclusion that they died as a result of the hot dry summer - the rhubarb is watered regularly, so the double snowdrops would not have dried out.
    My hellebores are flowering, and I have a few winter aconites popping up in the lawn, so they seem to have survived the dry conditions in the summer.
  • I was given a giant bulb for a Christmas gift. It is the size of a small head of cabbage. I had never heard of the plant and now I can not remember the name to look it up. It said to plant it on New Year's Eve. I just planted it before the heavy rain is due for the rest of the week. I am in for a surprise come Spring. I planted it in the only wide space left on my patio.
  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    edited January 31
    Likely some form of elephant ear plant by the description. If it’s dark and woody that is. If it’s more like a very big yellow onion, it’s an amaryllis. Those are really more likely as Christmas gifts.
  • It might also be called Hippeastrum, which is just an alternative name for Amaryllis.
  • Graven Imagine, I'll look forward to reading what your surprise plant yields and whether it is an amaryllis or something else. I've just come inside from watering my pot plants. It's supposed to get to 33 celsius today and I know when the snapdragons start to wilt that I've been neglecting them! The petunias, salvias and pinks I planted before Christmas are really looking fine.

    I have a bulb catalogue to browse and check with the husband whether he wants to go with the bluebells I have suggested. Last year I planted freesias, but I think they are too invasive, so they might go into pots and we'll try for a carpet of bluebells instead.

    Weeds are still running amok, but the ground is like concrete at present, so if wind is low at the weekend, herbicide might have to be the go (yuk). I just can't keep them under control with hand weeding, it's a 4 person job really!
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Admin, 8th Day Host
    Any tips on controlling or containing raging ground elder ?

  • Any tips on controlling or containing raging ground elder ?

    You have two options, and I suspect neither is what you wanted to hear.

    Either dig out every tiny bit you can find, and keep digging, and after a few years you will start to get on top of it, or break out the glyphosate (brand name Roundup, and you need to check you have the one with glyphosate in as they now sell a g-free one which is basically vinegar), and keep applying to every new shoot you see.

    Because even the tiniest piece of root will form a new plant, if you go the weedkiller route you need to go for glyphosate as it kills the roots as well. Glyphosate has had a bad press of late, but my personal feeling is that it has been demonised because of its links with big business and GM crops, and you are not using it near food crops. If you can find the gel formulation, you wipe that on like a giant deodorant and don't need to worry about spray getting on anything you don't want dead.

    I believe the stuff is actually edible, for a really off the wall suggestion, but it might keep coming back stronger if you keep picking it...
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Admin, 8th Day Host
    edited February 1
    I had heard it might be possible to put in plants that might outcompete it. I am reluctant to go the weedkiller route because of various cats in the vicinity.

    I have started by chopping off the long dead stems - but I mean to weed, I expect I will not be thorough enough to eradicate though. Hence the wonder about plants that might outcompete it.

    The issue for me is not that I especially hate the plant, but it’s killed off various of my herbs.
  • Glyphosate should be harmless to anything other than plants, as it affects a metabolic pathway that animals don't have. The environmentalist's argument against it, and for it being carcinogenic, as far as I can tell, is based on very peculiar and completely unproven science (add inverted commas to the word science there as you wish).

    I suspect anything that outcompetes the stuff will also outcompete your herbs, but I'd be interested to hear what if you find anything.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Admin, 8th Day Host
    So round up would be safe for cats ?
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Admin, 8th Day Host
    Further googling I would have to keep the cat in for 48 hours - which is fine for my cat but less so for others in the area:
    Animals exposed to formulated glyphosate herbicides have displayed anorexia, lethargy, hypersalivation, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms persisted for 2 to 24 hours following exposure. The surfactants in formulated products are thought to be responsible for the clinical signs.a
  • I believe the stuff is actually edible
    We once invited a fairly new acquaintance for dinner and, being aware that she was known for eating wild and foraged food, I served a side dish of ground elder, which grew in abundance in our garden... It was less than successful!
    I think I should probably have experimented with cooking techniques and recipes before inflicting it, untried, on a guest.
    We all survived the experience, and developed a friendship that lasted many years.

    During the time we had that garden I tried the digging it out method of eradication in one part of the garden, the glyphosate method in another, and smothering with old carpet elsewhere. The digging up was most effective but eventually the GE spread back from the further reaches of the garden, by which time my enthusiasm for digging had waned.
    All methods require persistence.and constant repetition.

  • DoublethinkDoublethink Admin, 8th Day Host
    edited February 1
    Ugh !

    I think it got in when I planted new rosemary plants, I got from a garden centre last year.
  • ArielAriel Shipmate
    The only method I know for eradicating it is to pull every last morsel of it out by hand. It wrecked a quarter of my allotment. Every time I thought I'd got the better of it, I'd come back a few days later to find it all back again.

    I don't have it now, but in retrospect I wonder if it might have been worth lighting a bonfire on the worst-affected areas.
  • DiomedesDiomedes Shipmate
    I've only had any success with the obsessive weeding method! Gradually the number of new plants decreased until the problem was maneagable.
  • I found the paperwork on my mystery bulb. Giant White Squill.
  • Further googling I would have to keep the cat in for 48 hours - which is fine for my cat but less so for others in the area:

    Would that cover the gel as well? I'd certainly expect surfactants in the spray formula to help it spread over the plant surface, but that's the last thing you'd want in the gel.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Admin, 8th Day Host
    I think the issue is it can get brushed off on their fur as they walk thru and then they ingest it when they clean themselves.
  • That's true. If you can't keep them off, you may be stuck with the elbow grease approach. Sorry!
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Admin, 8th Day Host
    edited February 1
    I have come up with a plan - looking at my resources, goals and time.

    My biggest problem is in the herb garden, it’s grown through the weed membrane and the gravel on the paths between beds.

    Gonna put the gravel in another container and wash it. Lift up the weed membrane and hoe underneath it then pour a slurry made with ash on the ground, relay the membrane and cover with the washed gravel.

    Going to hand weed the beds - hoe round the surviving intentional plants and then mulch with something - probably bark chips.

    Back garden I will mow. And the areas of paving in front and back, I will scrape out the crevices and fill with ash slurry.

    At least this will get rid of all the crap in my incinerator.
  • It's been good to read everyone's thoughts on glyphosate and a timely reminder for me as there are wandering cats in our neighbourhood. We also live quite close to a wetland and some funny looking things do come over the road and have a pick on the nature strip and I'd hate to do anything to make them unwell. When the weather is cooler and we've had some rain I think we might try a weed burning tool. I do like your use of ash idea @Doublethink, I hope that works out for you. We are not allowed incinerators where we live.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Admin, 8th Day Host
    edited February 2
    I have gradually filled one up over the last decade - and I have been wondering what to do with all the ash so it seems like a good solution.

    I don’t expect I’ll get rid of the ground elder entirely or permenantly - but if I can make the garden decent and get it to the point of semi- regular maintainace keeping it under control I’ll be happy.

    I have ordered myself a copy of Wild About Weeds. I also found this blog helpful for resetting my expectations of what to aim for for myself and my garden.

    My mantra for my recent period of trying sort my house and garden (managed to finally full declutter the house just before Christmas) has been: “I will not let the perfect be the enemy of the good” - and the blog fits that ethos nicely.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    edited February 2
    You have to reach a rapprochement. I don't have ground elder, but loads of other things both invasive and prolific, and largely confounding the categories of cultivated and weed.

    There are some at one end of the spectrum - bindweed, briar, couch grass say - that I war on ruthlessly - but a lot - clover, columbine, bluebell, campion, yarrow, Michaelmas daisy, herb Robert that I tolerate for a time/to an extent. Some official plants - principally monbretia/crocosmia and sweet pea need to be kept in bounds.

    As one garden in a tract of long-established gardens I'm used to stuff turning up I haven't planted - and I wouldn't have it any other way. (OK, maybe have more of what I do plant come up).
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Admin, 8th Day Host
    edited February 2
    I have sown wild flowers in the back garden at one point. And I have bulbs come up through my herb garden that I am happy with - snowdrops and crocuses I think.

    I am not aiming for manicured - I haven’t the skills, or motivation for that. There is a huge tree in the garden next door (by which I mean forest sized) whose lower branches spread right across my back garden, long term I want to try for a forest floor effect. I’d love to organise my self a carpet of bluebells for the spring for example.
  • ArielAriel Shipmate
    That would be lovely!

    I think I need a friendly garden designer to come and help me enhance mine with a view to privacy - climbing plants and shrubs - and beauty. I don't have the muscle power for lots of digging, especially tree stumps and deep-rooted things. I want mine to be a kind of old-fashioned/Mediterranean walled garden based on fences with trellis panels, that doesn't take a vast amount of effort to keep it under control.

    I daresay I shall get there, but it has been an ongoing thing since I moved in.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Admin, 8th Day Host
    edited February 2
    You can get powder coated metal trellis panels and raised beds - so the infrastructure doesn’t rot. For low maintainance in that style I’d be imagining courtyard with trellis, maybe some raised beds to seat the plants going up but no lawn to faff with - nice stone paving maybe.

    You could even esplanade a fruit tree if you were feeling adventurous.
  • I am not aiming for manicured - I haven’t the skills, or motivation for that. There is a huge tree in the garden next door (by which I mean forest sized) whose lower branches spread right across my back garden, long term I want to try for a forest floor effect. I’d love to organise my self a carpet of bluebells for the spring for example.

    Cyclamen for the autumn/winter would appreciate that shade as well. I have a little shady spot that has both, can't remember now whether I planted or inherited the bluebells now, but I certainly added hellebores and arum to it.

    Otherwise my long-term fights seem to match @Firenze's - I particular wrestle with dove's foot cranesbill and shiny leaved geranium which are pretty but swamp everything else! This month I must get a load of ground cover from a local nursery. Meanwhile the front garden has rewilded itself round the cars, to the point where I had to clear up the bits from someone else's food waste bin that the foxes had left in it yesterday morning. This corner of suburbia is fox central, frankly.
  • jedijudyjedijudy Heaven Host
    Different lawn care folks have tried to convince me to eradicate my Richardia grandiflora (AKA Mexican Clover) from my front and back yards. I refuse to do so, because my honeybees love them. It's considered a pest throughout Florida, but when there is a carpet of them blooming, it looks like pale purple snow!

    The noxious sand spurs, though, I dig up as soon as I see them. When I moved into my house almost 35 years ago, my yard had dozens of those weeds. I thought they were gone after about ten years of eliminating them. I was wrong. My neighbor called my attention to one persistent plant last year, and it has come back a few times, even after digging up what I thought were all the roots.

    My winter project had been to put together a raised bed to grow veggies. The containers I've been using for ten or fifteen years need to be cleaned and re-dirted. Well! best laid plans! There's always next year! I hope!
  • This corner of suburbia is fox central, frankly.

    The last time I was in London-Essex to see my Dad, we planted something unusual in his back garden...a fox, which was spark out in the middle of the grass one morning. 'That wasn't there when I looked out earlier' said Dad. But given how rigid it was, I think it had been there for a fair while!
  • ArielAriel Shipmate
    edited February 3
    I've just bought a replacement ceanothus (Autumnal Blue), which will go in near where the old one was once the missing trellis panel is in. I don't mind driving home with a small tree in the passenger seat but you do get some odd looks sometimes.

    It was the tallest of the 3' ones they had, so I'm hoping once it's in it will make up for lost time, put on a growth spurt, and I will once again be able to sit under the shade of a ceanothus one of these summers.
  • That sounds a lovely idea, @Ariel , I hope your Ceanothus plays ball.

    It's hardly gardening but today I have been up and down a ladder like a yoyo wiring in the swift box camera and cleaning the gutters while I had the loan of the ladder. I must be feeling better because if I was feeling below par I'd have been quaking in my boots halfway up.

    Being off work for stress has its upside, I can do some of the jobs that not being able to do was stressing me out about! Finishing laying the hedge is on the cards for the week.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    edited February 3
    A sharp wind today, so gardening confined to retrieving bag of leaves and twigs that had blown across the lawn, and taking that and another through the house to the brown bin. Then got dustpan and brush and gouged up the mass of sodden leaves that has accumulated under the steps in the path.
  • Yes, foxes. When we are in Norfolk, we don't see any, but in London we are surrounded by night time howling, and our allotment is a kind of soft play area for them. They can be destructive, but we are fond of them.
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