free advice for the great outdoors – if its not here – tell me

Grass Problems And Lawn Repair

daisy lawn problem

I’ve a few case examples in mind as I type these notes and all lawns are in the process of being treated as we speak. That said if you live in Ireland or the UK and own any form of a grass patch that is not perfect, then a tenner says you’ll find your dilemma and solution noted here.

Go grab yourself a cuppa and come back, this is a long one. Also any hassles or queries, leave me a comment below or drop me a line. I’ll pop my details in at the end of the post.

Back to it, the names noted below are not the persons real name and their stories go as follows:

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Vine Weevil

vine weevil, roots

Worse than them cousins that appear empty-handed every Christmas, eat all of your mince pies, clear out your drinks cabinet and then reappear twelve months later unannounced… Vine Weevil are one of them that just make my blood boil. I hate them, nobody likes them and really they have zero characteristics of benefit to anyone but themselves. Harsh ? You have no idea….

Who Are These Little F@*?ers ?

Vine Weevil or Otiorhynchus sulcatus have a life cycle similar to that of a butterfly and depending on the stage they are at, is dependent on the damage type they will cause. Never seen ’em before ? They look very like something the I’m A Celebrity Get Me Outta Here jungle folk would eat in one of them challenges, except they are smaller. Further…

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Six’s Thermometer. The Maximum Minimum.

max min thermometer

Better known as the maximum minimum thermometer, my first, a now defunct mercury version was purchased some 20 years ago. And though I’ve only ever owned three two of these in my life, alas, I’ve had to buy a new one. It’s very old school. But I like that, old school. Like the day I bought Loaded by The Velvet Underground. On vinyl.

Back on planet earth, Sweet Jane still humming in my ears…. I’ve written about James Six’s 1782 invention here before for other reasons, but it is such a legendary piece of equipment for any plants person or parent. So good, when wee Ella first went down to her own room at around 3 months of age, I placed it on her bedroom wall. Smart Dad ? I thought so.

In Short What Does A Max Min Thermometer Do ?

It records, lets say overnight, the lowest and highest temperatures simultaneously, whilst at the same time telling you the current temperature.

How The Flip Does It Manage That ?

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Composters And The Like, In Garden Design

peter donegan, gardens

I’m sometimes hesitant to recommend composters in gardens. Partly when it comes to those spaces a little more dimensionally challenged, but more often it becomes a dilemma [or not] when it comes to gardens that are set to become a little more eloquent in their [after works are complete] appearance.

Where do you put that thing that should not be seen or just does not fit in ?

I get the point where biodiversity, wild flower meadows and potato peels not heading to landfill is the route we should all be travelling. But equally, there is a lot to be said for damn good-looking sexy gardens and I’m not too sure that hedgehogs and piles of leaves fit in with the latest Brown Thomas collection, if you get where I’m coming from.

donegan gardens

When we think back on the eloquence of 17th and 18th Century garden design the thought process was quite different from todays. The messy fellows namely the herbaceous, the vegetables and fruit gardens, were to an extent hidden. It may have been within a walled garden, behind rows of Buxus semprevirens or quite simply to the far left of the sunken garden; And though the layout did vary hither dither, the immediate view from the home was one of grandiose stately and proportionate beauty with consideration for each season in it’s very evident pre-planning.

With that in mind why, would I wish to place a grey plastic cube or other so visible within my space outdoors ?

Sometimes, the space simply just does not exist for one to fit into the great wish list. Equally there is a case where practical straight lined paths to the shed, bypassing the washing line as you go is not in any way the greatest way to showcase the prettiest in the room.

My composting area is constructed a bit like above, from pallets bolted together. I have chosen to surround the outer with a wall of Bay Laurel [Laurus nobilis] hedging – it also means masses of the herb free gratis – the dark glossy green foliage now forming the back drop for what is a bright coloured red bench. Minimal it maybe, but my garden is set on about 1 acre, allowing me a little more freedom and space to play with.

And play with it I do. It is a constant tesing ground for designs and concepts that may pop into my head…. just, to be sure, to be sure 😉

red garden furniture

Irrespective of budget and garden size, I’ve always felt the better gardens completed are those where the client divulges the full want list. This may or may not include a composting bin or other. But the trouble aesthetically, is always when one tries to squeeze something into a space after the garden has already been designed to suit.

Food for thought ?

Bulbs: Plant Now For Spring Colour

I’ve possibly told this story before, I can’t remember…. Anyhow, I remember years ago planting my front lawn, around this season, with daffodil bulbs. Tonnes of them, literally. Side-tracking slightly, the bit I love, the child like bit, that makes me almost want to go out every day to see if they’ve peeped their heads even ever so slightly above ground, is what does it for me. And it’s when they do that bit, that the effort, is made so very worthwhile. I know, kind of childish, a little bit.

Back to it, I planted one big massive dormant love heart shape covering the entire front garden in these yellow flowering Allium’s. For all of the world to see. In short, in hindsight, or at least at the time, I thought it was romantic…

My bruised arm definitely didn’t see it that way as they started to protrude and then come into flower.

And back to horticulture. If you are gonna do bulbs, my suggestion is to do it en mass. Plant them into your lawn, under plant the tree areas or alongside the front of your hedge. I did it on the road side opposite my home 2 seasons ago for people to take as they were passing by. There should be a lot, lot more this coming February. And that’s the other great thing about bulbs, you only need to plant once and then [pretty much] ignore them.

I might plant some this weekend with my little Ella. Dad and daughter things to do are very important. Personally, I like the fact that she gets to pick some for Grandmom. Free smiles all round are very much a good thing in any language. Even wee Ella’s babbling conundrums understand that one.

As a by the way. Twice the depth of the bulb below ground. Also note geotropism. And enjoy.