Saturday, 20 October 2012

How to frost proof terracotta pots

As promised Sue's article on the protection of terracotta pots.



Your terracotta pots are not frost-proof?   Your terracotta pots were sold to you as frost-proof and turn out to be susceptible to frost?

Small pots can, of course, be easily moved into the shelter of a covered terrace or a light-filled garage or a greenhouse.   But what about those gigantic pots which, once filled with earth, are destined to remain rooted forever to their allotted spot?

Here’s how to protect your pots which can be as tender and in need of TLC as your frost-sensitive plants.

My remedy is to cover the outside of the pot with a loose tube of double-layer bubble-wrap with straw inserted between the bubble-wrap and pot plus an outer layer of bruyere to hide the unsightly plastic.


bubble-wrap (enough to go around the pot and overlap to fasten with stitching)
straw (enough to stuff between bubble-wrap and pot)
bruyere (enough to go around the pot+bubble-wrap & overlap to fasten with 
secateurs (to cut bruyere to size)
wire-cutters (to cut bruyere wire)
needle with wide “eye”
thick thread (used double) or fine string (to sew bubble-wrap and bruyere)
fat string/cord (to tie bubble-wrap around pot)

1.  Cut two lengths of bubble-wrap 30cm higher than the pot and long enough to go around the pot to overlap for stitching and to allow a fist of straw to be inserted.   Bubble-wrap is obtainable in 10m rolls from a removal company (Brusseau, 33 ave de l'Europe, ZAC St. Hermentaire, Draguignan) or DIY stores such as Leroy Merlin, Bricoman, Castorama (telephone first to check availability of “papier bulles”);  straw is found in the co-operative agricoles.

2.   With double thickness of thread or single length of fine string, tack the two layers of bubble-wrap together and join the two sides together.

3.   Slip over the pot and tuck up bottom 15 cm (this prevents straw touching damp ground)

4.   Stuff straw between bubble-wrap and pot and tie cord around top of pot and fold top 15cm of b-wrap over edge of pot (to prevent water penetration to straw)

5.   Cut bruyere with secateurs to exact height of pot to cover b-wrap and long enough to overlap for seam allowance plus extra 2.5cm.   Remove 2.5cm of bruyere  and twist each metal.

6.   Using fine string and large stitches, over-sew/hem the edges together.


Friday, 19 October 2012

A serial killer in our garden : Paysandisia archon

This pest native to South America, Uruguay, Paraguay, central Argentina has been accidentally introduced to Europe in the 90’s. It can be found in Spain, Italie. In France all the departments of PACA (Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur and Languedoc Roussillon are affected; now it is spreading to South West of France. 

 The scientific name for this moth is Paysandisia archon it belongs to the family Castniidae (Lepidoptera), most members of which live in South America where it is not consider as a pest. The adult is a beautiful moth, with a large wingspan of 9–11 cm. The fore-wings are olive brown-colored and the hind-wings are brightly colored with red, black and white The antennae are clubbed. Females are a little larger than the male. The eggs are laid separately; they are oblong (5 mm long), cream-colored and with longitudinal ribs. Just after hatching, the larva is pink-colored and less than 1 cm long, but turns white as it grows. It reaches 6–7 cm at the end of its development, looking a bit like a grub. 

The observations suggest that the moth has a long cycle of development. The adults are observed from June to September. They are active during the day. All stages of development, from egg to chrysalis have been recorded at the same time, in July. The egg is laid at the basis of the leaf on the stem or in the terminal bud. The larva bores a gallery through the stem or through the young leaves causing characteristic damage. When several larvae bore simultaneously in the stem, the palm becomes weak and can even die. Except for the period when the adults are flying, it is difficult to detect the presence of the pest; at the larval stage the only sign may be the presence of plugs of debris, like sawdust, visible at the outermost extremity of the gallery. The larva turns into a chrysalis, protected by a cocoon made with palm fibers inside the gallery. At the very end of its development, the chrysalis frees itself from the cocoon at the outermost extremity of the gallery, and a new adult moth is born after tearing this envelope. The remains of the chrysalis are often attached to the exit hole of the gallery for a while. 

 The damage is observed at different levels of the tree: leaves, rachis and top of the stem. Once hatched, the larva bores towards the heart of the palm and if several larvae are present on the same tree, this can lead to the death of the palm. Big palms can survive if they are not too severely attacked, but small ones or plants in the nursery or in containers are very exposed to attack. 

 How to treat it 
If the trees are too far gone they have to be destroy them by burning. 
 You can put a special kind of glue on your trees as a preventative measure (it kills the larvae). 
Also there are natural predators, such as the nematode worm.

Bibliographie :

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Garden Group Meeting, 16 October 2012

We now have a permanent home for our garden group meetings.  As we were growing in numbers, it became more and more difficult to find a house large enough to fit us all.  Gerda kindly offered her home to us.  It suits I think everyone.

Today was a special meeting as not only were we having our regular meeting, we were celebrating the 89th birthday of one of our members, Anneke, we sang Happy Birthday in Dutch, French and English for her.   The birthday cakes were made by Françoise.

Sue brought along a guest, Rens Korting, who is trained florist and used to make the flower arrangements for the Apollo Hotel in Amsterdam.

Rens showed us how she made the flower arrangement that was presented to Anneke, and gave us some useful tips:

  • Oasis should never be forced to absorb water, it should soak up the water by itself.
  • When you want to use a flower with a semi-hard stem, first make a hole with a small stick into the oasis, leave the stick in and as you put in the flower, you remove the stick.
  • Some leaves do not have strong enough stalks to put into the oasis, in that case you use flower arrangement wire (thin one), put it into and out of the leaf close to the central nerve, pull it through so you have a bit of the wire sticking out, twist it together with the rest of the wire, and voilà you have a strong leaf to put into the oase.

  • The same can be done with a flower, push the wire through the base of the flower, again twist the two ends of the wire together. cut it to the right length and push it into the oasis.
  • If you use a flower made up of small florets and you want the florets closer together,  push the wire through the florets, again twist the two ends of wire together ready to be put into the oasis.
  • With pine cones it is the same thing, one end of the wire is circled around the scales of the pine cone and meets up with the rest of the wire, again it is twisted together, ready to be put into the oasis. 

Elisabeth gave an interesting presentation on the larvae of a moth introduced from south America into southern Europe that is decimating the palm trees on the Mediterranean coast and now inland as well.  More info will be be posted on the blog by Elisabeth.

Sue covered  "Jobs for the month".   Special mention was made of how to protect your pots from frost. More on this subject will be posted on the blog.

The last item of the day was "what flowers in autumn".  Members were asked to bring with them cuttings of  plants that were still flowering in their gardens.  We had quite a selection.   I've arranged the plant names by colour:

White:  Bellis perennis (Common Daisy), Choisya ternata, Potentilla fruticosa "Abbotswood", Solanum jasminoides (Climber).

Pink:  Abelia x grandiflora, Cosmos, Hibiscus syriacus "Lavender Chiffon",  Lagerstroemia (deep pink), Nerium oleander, Salvia greggii "Lipstick"(Coral pink), Salvia x jamensis "Raspberry Royal",  Sedum spectabile (Ice Plant).

Blue/Purple:  Aster novai-belgii "Chequers",  several other Asters, Buddleja davidii "Empire Blue", Ceratostigma plumbaginoides,  Perovskia, a creeping rosemary from Corsica, Salvia farinacea, Salvia "Indigo Spires".

Yellow: Buddleja x weyeriana 'Sungold' a cross between B. davidii x B. globosa, not Buddleja madagascariensis that we saw in the Hanbury gardens, Bupleurum fruticosum, Coreopsis, Helianthus, Potentilla fruticosa "Elizabeth"?, Sternbergia lutea (Yellow Autumn Crocus.

Orange:  Calendula officinalis (Marigold), Echeveria "Topsy Turvy", Gaillardia, Pyrancantha berries (Firethorn). Rose (yellow-orange), Tropaeolum (Nasturtium), Zinnia.

Red:  Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, Roses in several shades of red, Salvia microphylla, Salvia microphylla "Hot Lips".

The grey conifer used by Rens in the flower arrangement is I think Cupressus arizonica var. glabra.

Photos:  Gerda

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Conseil de jardinage pour le mois d'octobre

Les conseils jardin de Jean-Yves Meignen

 Allez oublions l’été, chaud et sec pour certains, humide et froid pour d’autres. C’est l’automne, alors il faut planter sans attendre le printemps prochain : des bulbes bien sûr, mais aussi toutes les vivaces rustiques, les conifères et arbustes en conteneurs sans oublier les rosiers cultivés hors sol. Choisissez bien les plants : pas « forcés » en pépinière, bien racinés mais pas trop et ne recherchez pas les gros conteneurs. Ces plantations d’automne pourront bien s’enraciner avant le printemps prochain. Ne pas oublier d’arroser à la plantation et selon la pluviométrie arrosez de nouveau dans une large cuvette.
 Au potager les récoltes se terminent pour les légumes d’été. Un voile de forçage peut faire gagner quelques degrés et permettre ainsi aux dernières tomates de mûrir. C’est le moment des semis de petits pois et de fèves à réaliser de préférence à la suite d'une culture de légumes racines. Les autres rangs disponibles ne sont pas laissés vides. Il est bon de semer des engrais verts : la Phacélie dont les racines travaillent et nourrissent le sol ou encore la Moutarde qui désinfecte la terre. Les Fraisiers forment des stolons, c'est-à-dire de longues tiges avec des feuilles et des racines à l’extrémité. Vous pouvez récupérer ses repousses pour replanter une nouvelle "fraiseraie" car il faut renouveler les pieds tous les 3 à 5ans.
 Afin d'aider les Cymbidiums à préparer leur floraison, laissez les profiter des nuits fraîches et maintenez les arrosages avec engrais tous les 15 jours.
 Les bulbes à floraison de printemps se plantent maintenant. Ils offrent une telle diversité de couleurs et sont si faciles à cultiver en les laissant se « naturaliser » que vous devez chaque année en ajouter dans les espaces libres du jardin : au pied d’une haie ou sous les arbres, entre les plantes vivaces et pourquoi pas au potager car leurs fleurs attirent les polinisateurs utiles à vos fruits et légumes. Essayez les semis d’automne de mélanges de fleurs bisannuelles et vivaces mis au point par de nombreux semenciers. Vous aurez ainsi des espaces fleuris dès le printemps avec une succession de floraisons jusqu’à l’automne et comme seul entretien deux coupes annuelles : l’une en juin et l’autre avant l’hiver. Le compost peut être utilisé pour les plantations s’il est bien mûr, mais pas au fond du trou où il se décompose très mal. Il faut le mélanger à la terre ou le laisser en surface. Vous pouvez aussi en épandre 100 à 200gr par mètre carré dans vos massifs : les vers de terre feront le travail d’enfouissement mieux que vous !
 Tailler les Cyprès, les haies d’arbustes persistants avant l’hiver : au sécateur ou à la cisaille à main toujours bien aiguisés. Je redoute les tailles haies mécaniques qui « hachent » le bois, ce qui n’aide pas les plantes à bien cicatriser ces coupes imposées.
 Bon jardinage à tous……


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