One plant that is looking really beautiful in the garden at the moment is Exochorda × macrantha ‘The Bride’.

Exochorda × macrantha 'The Bride'

The beautiful pure white flowers cascade in abundance and light up a corner  of the pond garden.  The pond garden is supposed to be a flower free zone to ensure that it has a cool, relaxed atmosphere, but I can’t resist flowers sometimes.  In this case, the plant, despite its flowers, fulfils its brief perfectly.

Exochorda × macrantha 'The Bride'

The shrub was planted about three years ago, but for its first two years had to compete for water with the leylandii hedge on the other side of the fence.  Last year, the competition was removed and this year we have been rewarded with this fountain of flower – pretty suitable for a pond garden!

I mentioned previously that I hadn’t seen the wisteria that grows up the side of my office being pruned.  Well, today the ground staff were out pruning it.

Wisteria industrial pruning

May is obviously not the best time to prune wisteria (I do my major prune in January).  In other years it might just have already flowered, but this year swelling flower buds have become casualties in the groundsmen’s ongoing challenge to keep on top of the plants that grow on the estate.  This year’s weather has meant that many jobs are having to be performed with sub-optimal timing.

At least I now have the answer as to how the plants that grow up the house are pruned.  In the basket of the cherry picker, the groundsman had a petrol powered hedge clipper which he used to trim both the wisteria and the magnolia grandiflora that grow up the house.  They certainly didn’t have the time to worry about pruning to three buds as I can with my much smaller wisteria,so it will be interesting to see what next year’s flower is like.

At least we can see the wonderful views now that the wisteria is no longer growing across the windows!

As the weather starts to improve, gardeners’ thoughts turn to buying plants.  However there may be a hidden danger for your dog in that plant you buy.  To reduce slug damage to their young plants, many suppliers are putting slug pellets into plant pots.

Slug Pellets

Whilst slug pellets may be designed to be distasteful to dogs, they are certainly poisonous in reasonable quantities.  They are coloured blue to make them easy to see.

A friend of mine took some mail order plants out of their packaging and slug pellets fell to the ground.  Luckily she managed to get to them before her lively youngster could!

For the sake of your dog, please keep him at bay and check new plants for slug pellets.

We frequently travel on long journeys to dog shows.  To help pass the time on the journey, my lovely husband downloads the BBC Garden’s Question Time radio show so that we can listen as we drive.  moss

A couple of weeks ago there were three questions on moss which they grouped together.  The first asked how to get rid of moss, the second asked what was wrong with moss anyway, but the third was the one that caught my attention.  The questioner asked how come the area of grass nearest his house had no moss, but the further you got away from the house, the more moss was in the grass.  On further questioning, it transpired that the gentleman in question had bitches (no indication of breed or how many).   The panel came to the conclusion that the high nitrogen content in the bitches urine was killing the moss, but they (and I) were surprised that the grass near the house was doing well.

As you know, I have no grass so am not able to personally comment on this topic.  My mother’s garden had moss and family members who visited had bitches.  Maybe we didn’t visit often enough to have an impact on the moss.  So, over to you.  Do any of you have moss in your grass and have any of you noticed this phenomena?

To me, gardening should be enjoyable and part of that is that the weather should be enjoyable.  Well that certainly isn’t the case at the moment.  The UK experienced its second coldest March since records began and the Easter weekend was hardly the gardeners’ paradise we tend to expect. Pictures on the TV of holiday makers making castles out of snow rather than sand were rather surreal but focused the mind on the inclement weather.

I’ve wrapped up warmly and got on with the major pruning jobs, but I’m finding that the desire to get outdoors is somewhat limited at the moment.  So, what I am doing is gardening with my eyes – looking at the garden from all angles (including from upstairs windows) and planning what will need to be done as soon as the weather improves.

Hellebore virus

One job that has become obvious is that two of my hellebores will have to be sent to the great compost bin in the sky.  Last year, I thought that the pink one on the right had suffered from frost damage and so decided to give it another chance.  This year, it has become apparent that it is suffering from a virus and that now the virus has spread to the parts of of white one on the left that are closest to the pink plant.  This is really sad as both plants are fairly mature and they are right by my back door and I have enjoyed looking at them from the warmth of the house.

Like all gardeners I will make the best of this opportunity to plant something new in the space giving summer interest for this year and then next year I will have the pleasure of finding some new hellebores for the space.

 

Here on the South Coast of England, we have had our first serious snow fall for years.  Many Brits aren’t used to having snow and ice around and so we just don’t know how to deal with it.  You might be interested to read the insight a Canadian dog owning gardener gave me into how to come to terms with this sort of weather.

The big problem about using salt is that it can damage dogs paws.  It is possible to buy boots to protect their feet, but these often get chewed or otherwise damaged.  A better solution is to spray on aerosol vegetable oil which protects the feet from salt and reduces the chance of snow balling in their feet.

The key thing is to be careful out there and don’t take any unnecessary risks!

For most of us, our Christmas traditions are ingrained.  In particular, the way in which we decorate the house isn’t questioned.  You will know months in advance whether you plan to have a real or artificial tree, how the cards will be hung and what additional ornamentation your house (and possibly your garden) will wear for the festive season.  

There are however certain “life changing events” (a technical term from my place of work!) that may have an impact on Christmas decorations.  Whilst Christmas may be primarily for children, puppies have to be thought about more than normal at this time of year.  

For his first Christmas with you there are many dangers for your puppy that you have to keep him away from, but I will concentrate on the vegetative ones here.

New Park Christmas Trees

The first thought is that a dog puppy might be tempted to lift his leg against the tree since that is what he is probably starting to get used to outdoors (depending on quite how young he is).  Assuming that the trunk is not too exposed, this may not be too much of a problem since the branches will protect it, although presents may be a different proposition.

Far more likely is that your tree will be placed in a strategic corner and your puppy will want to investigate behind the tree and will probably knock the decorations off either in his forward or backward journey (assuming there isn’t room for him to turn around).  This is not a good experience for either you or him when you want your tree to stay looking at its best, so it is probably a good idea to ensure that this cannot happen.

I have to admit that over the years, I have found that it is much safer not to have a tree indoors, but that may be a solution that many find hard to tolerate.  Maybe you could surround your tree with puppy panels to keep the puppy away from it, removing them during the present opening festivities?

The other key issue to be aware of is the possibility of dropped berries.  If, like me, you like holly as a decoration, then toward the end of the holiday period after the sprig has been kept in the realtively hot and dry environment of a house can cause the berries to drop to the ground.  Holly berries can cause stomach upsets amongst other things, so please keep a vigilant eye for berries.

More worrying, for those that can get hold of it, is Mistletoe.  According to the Dog’s Trust list of poisonous plants, just a few berries can be fatal for a puppy.  Maybe we should be glad that it has become less common in homes over the years.

This isn’t technically Anya’s first Christmas with us but she was a month old last year and as such, she was securely protected along with the rest of the litter for any Christmas dangers.  This year is rather different.  Thank goodness she has just about learnt what she is and is not allowed to play with in normal life.  Now our Xmas challenge begins.

I usually put the cards up the weekend before the holidays.  They go around the (unlit) fireplace, so she will be able to easily reach them.  In a few days we will therefore have to start teaching her that they are not toys for her amusement.  We never leave her loose in the house unattended, so should be available to reinforce the message.  Luckily we have older dogs who should also be able to explain Christmas etiquette to her.

Holly Wreath

There will be no Christmas tree to tempt her and the Scandianvian lights are in the dining room. the door of which is always kept closed when she is loose.  There should be no way that she can get near the holly wreath on the front door and we don’t have Mistletoe.

Hopefully everything should be safe for our puppy’s first Christmas.  I hope you keep yours is safe too.