Hester Winterbourne

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since Feb 12, 2014
Joined site because whilst browsing for permaculture ideas for my new allotment (it's too wet to garden) I couldn't resist the plant ID challenge...
West Midlands UK (zone 8b) Rainfall 26"
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Recent posts by Hester Winterbourne

When you say they get shoots but no flowers, for how long have they not had flowers?  Normally if you cut them back in the winter they would get lots of bushy growth as seen in the photo, but those shoots would not get flowers until the following year.  They're going to be quite difficult to prune, growing like they are now.  I would thin out those bushy shoots and see what happens next spring, but it's not going to make a well-balanced tree in the long run with a big thick main trunk and lots of thin side branches coming straight off it.  It might have worked better if you cut much lower and allowed a few of the resulting shoots to grow as straight up as you could, but they would still be prone to tearing away off the main trunk once they got to any size.  But I think the main trunk will be prone to decay anyway from the big cut surface at the top.  You could use these trees as donor material to graft onto young whips, I don't think there is any mileage in trying to graft onto them, if that's what you meant. They will be too insistent on growing their own side shoots, and all the structural problems would still be there.

Having said all that, I have a hawthorn hedge in my back garden which was severely trimmed when I moved in and I decided to let it grow away into trees for flower and fruit.  It took SIX YEARS to calm down from the mass of vegetative growth released by the cessation of trimming, and start flowering again.  So you could just leave them completely alone and see what happens.

Another idea would be to plant some sort of climber to scramble over the pillars.
12 hours ago
I cut the bottoms off five litre water bottles to make cloches for tender veg plants in the spring.  I don't buy water.  This means when I saw one lying by the side of the road I had to turn round, drive back, find a safe pull off, walk to get the bottle and then carry on.  And when I saw two in the big rubbish bin when I was moving my son out of his uni halls, I had to climb in and get them.  He was mortified.
1 week ago
The beavers know your dam is about to collapse and are trying to save you...
1 week ago
My question would be - for what purpose do you want fish in this pond?  Is it as a crop for your own or some other animal's consumption?  Or is it because you think a pond "needs" fish to make it a functioning ecosystem?  I would argue not.  Lots of small ponds in nature dry up annually so cannot support (most) fish but are ideal for amphibians which contribute to the surrounding ecosystem.
1 week ago
OK, so I don't have a clay soil.  But I do use woodchip on my paths between vegetable beds, and I have never used any sort of fabric under the woodchip.  I just add a load more once a year as they rot down.  Sometimes I dig out the rotted ones and throw back onto the beds, but that depends how much of a hurry I am in to get the woodchips before someone else has them.  

This is what it looks like shortly after a load of woodchip has been added and the beds are still mounded up with the winter mulch of dead leaves...
In my experience if you just try to kill off grass round a tree or shrub with cardboard, some of the grass will always find its way through the gap by the stems, and then it's REALLY difficult to pull out!  In answer to the original question, the shorter the grass generally the shallower the roots.  I would cut out the square of turf where I'm going to plant, say a foot or so square.  You will see which are the roots of the grass and which are the rhizomes which is where the regrowth actually happens, beause the latter are thicker and have little sprouty bits. Dig the planting hole a little deeper than you need and put the turf back in the bottom UPSIDE DOWN.  Then plant and mulch as you like over the wider area between the trees/shrubs.  
I would say Amelanchier, yes, though not sure what species as to whether it's precisely a Juneberry.  The little bronzy folded young leaves, the five petals rather separated, the prominent sepals remaining on top of the berries and general "apple" feeling to it.  It's flowering at the right time - there's one round the corner from me flowering, though I'm a bit further north than you.

2 weeks ago
You can buy seed for coriander/cilantro which has been selected to be slow to run to seed.  Of course, you can do this yourself by resisting the temptation to gather seed from early "bolters" and wait instead for the plants that take longer.
The oregano is a perennial and you can cut it back or leave it to flower as you like.  If you let it run to seed you could have a few plants and cut some so as to have plenty of leaves for cooking. The flowers are popular with bees and other pollinating insects.
I know alliums have been mentioned a couple of times already, but seasonal right now in the UK is wild garlic or ramsons.  The flowers taste garlicky but also sweet if you wait until they are fully open rather than going for the buds.  Popular with my teenager on a bike ride yesterday!  
3 weeks ago