Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Birch Tree

The Birch is, perhaps, my favourite tree of all - today, at least - and contributes enormously to the woodland landscapes of Britain. It is very common throughout Europe and Asia, and tends to flourish on open ground, being one of the first trees to colonise newly cleared land; for this reason - as a pioneer species - it is often removed from preserved heathlands, in order to prevent re-forestation.

I enjoy them simply because of the way they look: the gorgeous silver bark, the drooping, rustling foliage and the wonderful, unique catkins. My mood is instantly uplifted at the sight of a stand of silver birch, and the addition of a line of trees in an urban or suburban setting can transform the bland into the beautiful. Reaching a height of around 30 metres, eventually, they can also be quite imposing, and will stand out in a way that ash or English lime simply cannot match.

In spring, look out for the first appearance of the new leaves, as they will be a very bright green in colour; after a week or two they will dull down noticeably. The flowers will now be apparent, and each tree will have both the male catkins and female upright types at the same time. Both pollination and eventual seed dispersion are by wind in the latter part of smmmer and into the autumn; the precise timing of the aforementioned events will depend very much upon latitude and elevation.

These fabulous trees play a part in the lives of more than 330 species of insect, support a number of fungi while alive and as rotting timber, and feed many birds in the autumn through their copious output of tiny seeds, so please look after them!

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Friday, 9 September 2011

Gardener's Fellowship

I have decided to start a discussion forum, Gardener's Fellowship, in order to allow like-minded gardening types to get together, swap advice and lean on the virtual fence to have a chat. We will be including a section on ponds and water gardening, and one on hydroponics, grow lights and watering / micro irrigation.
Membership is free, of course, and all are welcome, whether you have just one question that needs answering, or whether you are a dedicated gardening adviser or landscaper, ready to dispense wisdom to the many! There will be an opportunity to swap seeds, or indeed anything else garden-related, and you are encouraged to begin your own threads and conversations.
Please come down to Gardener's Fellowship - just click the link, register and off you go!
Kithurst Hill, Sussex, early morning...
Ash Tree

Friday, 11 March 2011

Water Gardening

There are many new trends surfacing in gardening, and water gardening is one of the main new interests. Water gardening can be in the form of waterfalls, ponds, fountains, all of which can be enhanced by rock work combinations and lighting, plants, and fish. Water gardening doesn't have to be a pond or natural water source either, it can consist of just a plastic tub, basically anything that can hold water.

The most important thing to consider in water gardening is probably the spot chosen. Since plants and fish both need plenty of sunlight, places in direct light away from trees and bushes is the best place. This will also help prevent leaves and debris from collecting in the water.

When planning for a water garden first decide the size you want. This will depend on how much money you are willing to spend because water gardening can get expensive if you opt for a large garden full of plants, rocks, fish, and lights. Also consider the size of our property, and the amount of time you want to spend with maintaining your water garden.

When you choose what type of aquatic plants you wish to have, remember that the plants should only cover about half of the water. Plants can be free floating, submerged, or marginal. Which you choose is all a matter of personal preference. Some plants are good for their scent, some provide more oxygen than others and will keep the pool health, and some are just beautiful. Fish are not only nice to look at but they are also very beneficial. Fish help keep debris at a minimum and help in controlling larva and other insects.

One of the main difficulties in water gardening is keeping water clear of algae. Algae problems are usually caused from too many nutrients in the water from feeding fish too often or from over fertilizing plants. If ponds are made correctly and are maintained properly algae problems and control will be kept at a minimum.

All garden pools regardless of size will need maintenance throughout the year. With proper planning you can ensure a healthy balance between living and decorative features of a water garden that can almost care for itself with simple maintenance inputs from you.
You can get rid of algae by reducing on the nutrients that cause the algae by cutting back on feeding and fertilizing, planting more plants, installing a filter system, or replacing existing water with fresh water. There are some chemicals that can be used, like copper compounds, but overuse can kill plant life and fish.

Water gardening doesn't take anymore time than regular gardening, but obviously isn't near the same thing. You may be the type person who couldn't grow a flower if you tried but would be excellent at water gardening. If you are looking for a way to occupy some time or to beautify your yard, water gardening is an excellent way.
Article by Matt.

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