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triumph of hope over experience

triumph of hope over experience

pansies and heather - after what happened to the pansies last time, maybe I should know better, but still, the experiment's worth repeating

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Looking good, so what happened last time?

19 Oct, 2011


something kept digging them up - either deliberately or burrowing next to them for something else and exposing them in the process. I had five troughs and lost 'em all - then I had three troughs of petunias, they went the same way.

lol maybe i should wire the troughs to the mains!

19 Oct, 2011


Was it squirrels perhaps Fran? I get squirrels and foxes. I once made the mistake of removing a large bone from one of my planters. ...big mistake the fox came back couldnt find and proceeded to empty the whole large container onto the patio. This happened several times. Next time I left the bone there. I now put a piece of chicken wire over the top of pansies until they get a bit more established.

20 Oct, 2011


I've been blaming the squirrels, there's a colony of them in the green beyond our gardens, and they've been in my garden more than me at times!

But someone suggested it might be blackbirds, excavating for something. given my vsion, squirrels are easier for me to see, and I've definitely seen them actualy in the planters. But one day I heard an odd noise from just outisde thelounge window, so I crept out to look; there was a bird in the planter; it was big and black so I'll assume it was a blackbird! I clapped my hands shaprly and off it went.

I've tried bark-chip mulch to deter digging, but they just get shoved out of hte way - in fact, the llittle heap of spilled bark on the table was how I found out about one excavation.

I found a bit on eHow - how to keep birds and squirrels out of the garden; they said get a rubber snake and place it stragetigcally, and move it every couple of days to make it look alive. I bought two, and it semed to work - for a while, anyway. Maybe I need a rubber six-foot boa, something that looks big enough to have a squirrel for lunch! lol I even Googled "squirrel predators" but I think a realistic life-size fox would tend to stand out a bit in a six-foot garden!

I've put water-retaining gel in the planters, so they should stay damp longer - I seem to recall that the most excavation ws done when the surface was dry, so that might be a deterrent.

20 Oct, 2011


ps - I also read that squirrels don't like lavender, which is why I have so many of them: I tried to fence the other plants in with them - put them around the border in the hope that that would deter incursion, if it worked at all.

I was told by some GoYers that shredded chili spread on the surface works as well - for some pests, at least! There seem to be animals that don't mind, judging by the bits pushed out of the way around small excavations in the troughs. Maybe I need to combine the two

20 Oct, 2011


Gosh, quite a nuisance those critters are. I've never had anything like that happen, only clints dogs digging out the pots and some of the bodrers I was thinking a cage over them. Or you might try sprinkling some white pepper on top of the soil, it might make them sneeze. Also my ex-client said that his dogs didn't dig in the borders where her put a piece of there poo.

21 Oct, 2011


*s* read somwhere that someone recommends lion poo or fox poo - neither particularly easy to get hold of in inner London! though, paradoxically, the lion's mgiht be easier to obtain if I strolled up to London Zoo with a carrier bag? [as an aside, I wonder what the Zoo does with it all? they must accumulate a fair amount.]

The problem seems to occur more when the topsoil is dry, so I'm hoping that the wetter weather will discourage. I did have the plants fairly crowded last time - partly because I was running out of troughs and partly I thought that the less soil exposed, the fewer options to dig in it; these ones are a bitmore spread, with exposed patches. I'm keeping an eye on them.

I've only got a handkerchief of a garden [I've got a scale plan in my pics], and I've only been here just over a year, so I'm not at all settled on a final layout; I'm still trying to work out how much I can get in without tripping over stuff - as I have mobility problems everything has to be easily accessible or easily moveable. I did think of a cage, but, sigh, it's on my list of things-to-think-about-when-I-get-round-to-it; I'd need to get someone to shape and fit the pieces, and so I'd need to work out a plan for them to work to. (I did once think of enclosing the whole space, make the whole garden a cage! hardly a thing of beauty, though, and doubt I'd get the necessary permission.)

Still, fingers crossed that I won't need to for a while.

21 Oct, 2011


Why not try placing some of those nice looking river washed stones on the top of your pots? Needs to be something fairly heavy so birds and or squirrels cant shift them about. One of my dogs likes to eat the fresh compost on the top of my pots, sometimes leaving bare roots! - it sorts her out. Let us know how you get on.

21 Oct, 2011


thanks for the idea, Poppylover! I have some "interesting" beach stones, collected here and there: to be honest, I hadn't thought of using them that way - they were going to be for my miniature landscape, when I got round to it - but there's no reason they can't do duty now.

I have used pebbles and gravel, but neither is weighty enough that it'd be hard to dislodge, and the gravel does tend to get mixed up with the soil - annoyingly, my old sive had exactly the right size mesh for the gravel to get lodged in the holes.

But I'll dig out the beach stones, wash them to make sure there's no salt on them, and place them. I'll do pics of the result, thanks again!

21 Oct, 2011


Your welcome Fran. Hope it works.

22 Oct, 2011


Hi Fran, hadn't seen this before now. How did you get on with placing the stones in your troughs? Your Pansies looked really lovely there! :-))

Have you planted any more, for the winter? I've got lots of Pansies & Violas on my balcony. I put them in most winters as that way I get some nice colour, always welcome during the winter months, when we have mild spells & then in the spring I get 100s of lovely, cheery Pansy & Violas flowers after the underplanted Crocuses have finished.

18 Dec, 2011


errrr - I found my box of beach stones, buried under other boxes; I dug it out, bruoght it indoors, scrubbed each and every stones to make sure there was no salt on them, left them to dry ... and then totally forgot about them.

I can't believe that it's been nearly two months since Poppylover suggested it and I've been walking past the box of stones in my kitchen ever since. They must be dry by this time!

Well, there's my job for tomorrow sorted! If I leave the box just outside the back door, that'll be a fairly vivid hint.

Thanks for the reminder, Balcony - but for your post it'd probably not be done for another six months. *sigh*

Your plantings sound gorgeous. I tend to maybe plant the pansies too close together, so I've never underplanted them; not sure there'd be enough for all - enough room, enough food - and I don't want Peter robbing Paul.

I did have some crocus bulbs, but no idea where I put them (*s* it's sad when short-term memory gets so short!), so I might as well count them among the missing.

I haven't planted any more since: the last batch, planted in autumn, lasted until early summer the next year, so these should carry me through the winter, pests permitting. Mainly, I plant them whenever Lidl has them in stock!

Most of my plants are plants, not flowers, so the pansies are the only non-grreen colour - apart from my few and spindly roses, if an when they manage to bloom.

I've really done very little outside for - well, at least a couple of months! I re-rearranged the layout of the planters. and that's about it - bought some fleece to line one of the mini-greenhouses so that, this year, I'd have somewhere to shelter plants *before* I have to scrape snow off 'em - but that's still sitting in a box in the kitchen, too. Maybe I'll manage two-birds-with-one-stone tomorrow. Or the day after. Or next week.

I seem to have SAD a bit more than I realised! I've not done much of anything lately. Mayhe if I can summon the energy to do the plants tomorrow, that'll motivate me to get more things done in other areas. So double thanks, Balcony dear!

18 Dec, 2011


Your post made me chuckle! :-)) Sorry about your memory problems I sometimes have the same problem though more than likely it's as my wife says, not putting our full attention on things we need to remember. I'm guilty of often listening with just one ear! She says she tries to associate things with other things so as not to forget, a bit like tying a knot in a hanky I'd think! (Now why did I do that??? LOL!)

Glad I found your post then if it reminded you of the pebbles you washed a couple of months ago & put to one side to dry!!! LOL! :-D Best get the fleece out while you're at it as well!

I think in my pictures there are photos of my Pansies & Violas. As I've uploaded so many photos since being a member of GoY I honestly no longer remember! There must be a recent photo of my balcony where you can see my pots all sitting on the railings. I'll upload a photo or two this evening. Due to the cold, windy weather of the last few weeks I've no flowers at present or I'd go out tomorrow & take a few shots & upload them.

Generally I don't grow "green plants", mostly I grow them for their flowers though I do have a variegated Ivy on the balcony as well as several different Tradescantias & a couple of Spider plants in the flat. I also have a Dragon tree.

19 Dec, 2011


Just had a look at my photos page & there are 3 photos of Pansies on my balcony taken just last month on the very first page!

Talking about green plants I forgot I have three big golden Conifers on the balcony as well. 2 of them have been there for about 8 years & are taller than me. The wind is capable of blowing them over sometimes. It has happened a couple of times this year. The last time was only a couple of months ago, so now when I hear strong winds forecast I pull them from the balcony railings up against the windows of the house & that way they are not so easily blown over!

The smallest of the 3 also has variegated Ivy growing around the base of its trunk. I have a conical hanging basket that has had a variegated Ivy growing in it for several years now.

19 Dec, 2011


Just detoured to check out your photos - the pansies look lovely - bigger than mine but then I suppose yoiu look after yours better!

They don't seem any less dense than my plantings - and you underplant them? I was a bit worried about "crowding" my pansies in 8-10 per two-foot trough! If i had the space, the pots and the compost, I'd probably spread them much wider - competing for resources in a crowded environement is a strain on plants as well as people.

I don't know how long I've had my conifers, maybe only a year or so, though I think I had some mini ones back in my old flat on the 7th floor (I can't remember ancient history!). There's one taller, but the label just gave the very minimum in care instructions, no name.

Wow, you must get some winds there! You'd think that being inset, the balcony would be a at least a bit sheltred. Do you weight the pots? When I had the gardens at work and at DITO I used to weight the bottom of the pots with stones for stability, and, for the larger pots, in the hope that they'd then be to heavy for anyone to walk off with! First reason seemed to work, the second, sadly, didn't on several occasions. But that did make them harder for me to move, too.

My garden seems to be very sheltered - which is good, of course, but - I finally managed to get some rain bells - we've had the rain, but so far not had a cheep out of them, no matter where I place them. Still, on the whole, that's better than having to pick up fallen pots every time there's a strong blow.

I've got no hanging baskets up yet - only got the wall to hang them from and need brackets to be placed - I wanted to at least scrub the wall, if not paint it, beforehand. I've not got much option on placement: there's only two small sections of wall not taken up by windows or a panel of dubious s trength for the bathrrom air vent (which I'm going to use to hang wind-chimes and mobiles; the panel should be strong enough for that) and one of those places is on the corner by the back door, so it'd have to be placed high enough to avoid collision - which would mean me getting a ladder to water, unless I get a rise-and-fall fitting. But the other wall is at the end, between me and next door- and that's going to get loaded!

I have half a dozen wall planters which will be placed once the wall is scrubbed/painted: my bedroom windows are quite high, so there's room for a double tier, with maybe hanging baskets between. The lounge windows are only about two feet up, so not much point using wall planters there; I can just put plants on the ground outside.

20 Dec, 2011


It had never occurred to me to put stones in the bottom of the pots! When I planted them they were only about 30cm tall (1ft) & I used to plant other flowers in the pots with them. I eventually cut off the lower 1/3rd of the branches as they crowded out my other plants! As time went by they got bigger & bigger & for the last two years I haven't been able to plant anything else in the pots, the roots of the Conifer are literally trying to get out of the top of the soil! I now stand plant pots in saucers over the surface & the plants do very well that way! I'd like to get rid of them - not cut them down & throw throw them a way but plant them out somewhere so that they could keep on growing. There are still bulbs in the pots like Grape Hyacinths & Crocuses. Maybe some other small bulbs as well. They don't seem to mind being in pots that have more roots than soil! In the summer I'm now forced to water them every day they dry out so quickly.

21 Dec, 2011


I did use polystyrene pieces in the bottoms of pots, for draiinage, but they did nothing for stability!

There's an aquarium shop literally just round the corner to where I live, and plain fishtank gravel is comparatively cheap - but they're small enough to fall out of a central draainage hole and sometimes even the smaller holes round the rims. But I have a cunning plan to sort that out - if I ever manage to get round to it ...

I've only one non-dwarf conifer, and as I don't know what type it is I've no idea how big it'll eventually get, should it live that long. Or at least how big it'll get before it gets too big for me and this garden.

Have you thought about putting your overgrowing conifers up for adoption? Perhaps there's someone local who could give them ground space, or at least have space for bigger bots than would fit on your balcony

Daily watering is something I'm trying to avoid [mostly by forgetting to think about it!] - I put wicks in the bottoms of the smaller pots, and I bought a length of clear plastic pipe and cut it into lengths, which I buried in the larger pots as I planted them - that way the water goes to the roots and doesn't sit on the surface and have to slowly percolate down - I read somewhere that top watering is sometimes why roots break the surface, that's the only way they can get at the water.

Could you take out some topsoil and replace, mixed with water retaining gel crytals? It's a bit late to add that all the way down, but a layer near the top might work its way down, and at least that'll keep a bit more moisture in the pot for a bit longer.

I do love grape hyacinths; such a sweet smell, and crocuses are a delight to behold. sigh, no idea where my stock has gone - probably in the same direction as the hundreds of bluebell bulbs I once had! but once I can get my wall planters set up, I'm going to try for the smaller plants - they'll be nearer eye level then.

22 Dec, 2011


I've thought of several solutions. One taking them down to the allotment, but for that I would need somebody to take them down there for me, another is to ask if I could plant them in the grounds of my church, there is plenty of space & I could continue to watch them grow & maybe even look after them myself by offering to give a hand with the care of the gardens. I have already thought of doing that. Another possibility is that my daughter's partner likes Conifers (they even have a 30cm golden one in their driveway like mine!),& has offered to take them but he would have to put them in the boot of his car somehow - & get them out again! They are very heavy & the plastic of the pots is getting fragile now after 10 years of exposure to the elements!

Thanks for your suggestions on possible actions to take but I don't think any of them will work. The water seeps slowly through the rootball, I empty a 2lt bottle of water on them & it seems to get through as little runs out the bottom. I do make sure they never get too dry, that's why on the hottest days I have to water them every day.

23 Dec, 2011


The church sounds like a good iea; at least you'd be able to see how they were getting on, if nothing else.

There's a church just over the road to me, which has a lot of green round it - I did think of dropping in a note asking if they could spare a patch for my packs of wildflowers and butterfly-friendly flowers - with any luck, they'd self-seed, so wouldn't too much attention - unless they wre so successful that they became a nuisance!

24 Dec, 2011


Jolly good idea!

Happy Christmas. :-))

25 Dec, 2011


thee too *s*

26 Dec, 2011

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