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extreme novice gardener with large inherited garden has some questions please.

(37 Posts)
navyeyelasH Thu 25-Jun-09 18:32:01

We recently bought a house and the garden is fairly large. I know nothing about gardening as I have never had a garden (always lived in flats/shared houses etc) but I am happy to learn.

My first question is about some weird black eggs on a plant/flower thing. Given I know nothing I though pictures might help!

This is the flower and here are the gross weird mini beasts.

My second question is, what is going on with my roses? Black spot disease? Is there something else too?

TIA (sorry to post and run; just nipping to shops be 30 mins!)

navyeyelasH Thu 25-Jun-09 18:35:31

should have added am happy to learn and hoping someone can advise!

cissycharlton Thu 25-Jun-09 18:37:37

Ok. The first plant is a foxglove. Can't say for certain what the pest is but wouldn;t worry too much. Bin the plants when they die off (which they will soon) rather than compost. Roses have blackspot and probably caterpillars. Not great but not necessarily fatal. Just prune affected bits (not too severe though) and bin. Feed the plant as a vigorous plant will come through something like this.

Best of luck.

FatGirlThin Thu 25-Jun-09 18:40:36

Fox gloves are VERY poisonous. If your dc's are old enough to understand you need to explain not to even touch them. If they ingest them I think it's a straight to hospital do not pass go situation.

cissycharlton Thu 25-Jun-09 18:42:01

Should've said that.

FatGirlThin Thu 25-Jun-09 18:42:23

This is what Wiki says...not to be scaremonger, we have them in the garden but you just need to be aware...

Depending on the species, the digitalis plant may contain several deadly physiological and chemically related cardiac and steroidal glycosides. Thus, the digitalis has earned several more sinister monikers: Dead Man’s Bells, and Witches’ Gloves.

The entire plant is toxic (including the roots and seeds), although the leaves of the upper stem are particularly potent, with just a nibble being enough to potentially cause death. Early symptoms of ingestion include nausea, vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea, abdominal pain, wild hallucinations, delirium, and severe headache. Depending on the severity of the toxicosis the victim may later suffer irregular and slow pulse, tremors, various cerebral disturbances, especially of a visual nature (unusual colour visions with objects appearing yellowish to green, and blue halos around lights), convulsions, and deadly disturbances of the heart. For a case description, see the paper by Lacassie.[6]

There have been instances of people confusing digitalis with the relatively harmless Symphytum (comfrey) plant (which is often brewed into a tea) with fatal consequences. Other fatal accidents involve children drinking the water in a vase containing digitalis plants. Drying does not reduce the toxicity of the plant. The plant is toxic to animals including all classes of livestock and poultry, as well as cats and dogs.

FatGirlThin Thu 25-Jun-09 18:47:52

Oh and I should say happy gardening too! Are you thinking of a Veg patch? We don't have room for one here but this morning dc picked strawberries from the garden for their packed lunches I was thinking how fab it would be to have one smile

navyeyelasH Thu 25-Jun-09 20:24:55

"just a nibble being enough to potentially cause death"

Oh. So being a childminder and all (well hopefully will be one in next few months!) I should dig this up!

Any thoughts on what the black stuff might be? Some of them seem to have wings. Could it be flying ants? Lots of ants walk up and down to the black stuff too.

Thanks for the advice, I'd be killing children off left right and centre if it wasn't for you! The plant is actually at the back of a bed about 30cm wide, the bed is raised - do you still think it's better to dig it up?

Fat girl thin,if you look at this picture, you should be able to see a raised flower bed with some annuals (starting to learn the lingo, don't know what annuals they are; just know they are annuals!) in it. I'll be using that as a veggie patch for my minded children to dig around in.

We also have a sensory garden going on in another part of the garden. It's quite a large garden and given I know nothing; it's slightly scary!

Should I squish caterpillars then? They also seem to like eating some yellow bush thing as well as the rose leaves. I'm a bit of a neat freak and don't like how it looks is there anything I can do to stop them - other than squish (seems mean and I haven't seen many butterflies this year yet).

Sorry, one ore questions - if there is silver slime over my plants would that be a slug/snail? Any nice ways (ie not going to hurt them/other creatures/children/plants) to deter them from my flower beds?

Thanks for all the great help so far!

ABetaDad Thu 25-Jun-09 20:46:46

First of all what a fabulous thing to have - a big garden and a whole new life of learning ahead.

The black weird minibeasts look like black aphids.
The holes in the rose leaves may be aphids (green or black) or caterpillars.

The foxglove could be poisonous and I would get rid of them if you have a small DC.

What I advise is just get used to your garden for a year before doing anything in the way of planting as we are well into the growing season now. Just see what grows, see where the light is at different times of the year and do some planning once you have had time to see the garden at different times of year. A garden can be a lifetime project and will evolve as your life changes.

What I would do straight away though is give the garden a really good tidy. Feed, edge, cut, rake and generally care for your lawn. Cut back bushes to a nice shape and cut any overhangng tree branches right back to allow light in (with local authority permission if necessary). That is quite enough to do if you are also doing work in our new house as well.

Veg patches are a great idea by the way but choosing the right position in terms of light and soil is important.

Most of all enjoy it. smile

Flibbertyjibbet Thu 25-Jun-09 20:59:30

OOooo whereabouts are you?

Have you registered with Channel 4's landshare website for people with big gardens who want to let people with no land plant a few carrots etc?


<<waits pateintly trowell in hand wink>>


LovelyTinOfSpam Thu 25-Jun-09 21:23:24

Poor old foxgloves. Best to be on the safe side if you are childminding though I suppose. Don't forget to put some back once the children are old enough/you stop childminding etc as they are a native plant which bees and other native insects love.

Re the gross weird mini beasts grin they look like blackfly and the ants like the sugary stuff they excrete as a by-product see here if you google blackfly ant you will find lots of advice.

For rose black spot see here or it could be rust which is what mine have. Doesn't kill em just looks a bit rubbish.

HTH smile

navyeyelasH Thu 25-Jun-09 21:27:40

That's the critters Abetadad they really gross me out! Thanks by the way for the really positive message. I don't like creepy crawlies at the best of time but these things spook me as there are so many! What do I do with them <goes to read link>

On the subject of the garden the old (very lovely and oragnised) man that lived here before is was a very very keen gardener. He dies and his family sold the house on - but before he dies he drew some pictures of the garden during the different seasons and noted which part of the garden did what and where the light goes etc!

Thankfully DPs mum and friend are super keen gardeners (with allotments and everything) so they have been down twice and basically hacked all the weeds out (some have regrown that I'm doing on the weekend), cut back hedges etc. There is a wisteria demanding their attention at the moment that I'm too scared to touch - but they will be here on Sat.

The planned veggie patch has light all day long until about 3pm - DPs mum says it'd be an awesome veggie patch? But we aren't planting anything till next season (hence the annuals). The sensory garden is off the main garden - and is yet to be planted I want to do it ASAP but am not sure as don't want things to die!

Flibberty, I'm in Bristol. I'll have a look at the channel 4 thing - sounds a good idea!

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Thu 25-Jun-09 21:37:33

Lots of good advice already (got here too late!).

Yes, silver trails = slugs and snails. To deter them - broken egg shells around plants act as a barrier (better still if you bake them in the oven as they become harder and sharper), so do sharp grit, coffee grounds or bran. You can buy copper strip to put around the rim of pots, or try vaseline.

You can buy nematodes from the organic gardening catalogues - these are tiny bugs which you water into the ground, but they do kill the slugs and you prefer non-fatal methods, I see. There are some types of slug pellet which are organic-friendly (but still fatal to the slugs) and you need to put them (say) under a tile so that other creatures don't eat them; I've read that there is little evidence that other creatures do eat them, but it's a useful precaution against children picking them up too.

I'm sure there are some options I've missed ....

<<Goes off for torch-lit slug hunt in own garden>>

navyeyelasH Thu 25-Jun-09 22:02:07

thanks for the advice lovelytinofspam (great name btw). Those ants are clever aren't they! Are they a garden pest? They don't seem to do much damage so I think they should be left alone. When the foxgloves comes out I think I will plant an insect friendly similar one straight away - will it be ok to plant now do you think?

madbadanddangeroustoknow thanks again for another lovely reply. The nemotadoes sound good but could they cause ringworm <ignorant> do you think? Could I put a copper strip along the flower bed do you think? That sounds like a good option!

The slugs mainly seem to be eating these. DPs mum planted them am not sure what they are - but they aren't doing too good! Another one suffering is an orange coloured flower with a very rounded quite stiff flower head. Maybe my slugs are fussy as they aren't eating the petunia, which are growing like mad! Can you trim them bag or is that bad?

My really last question of tonight (thunder storms here so can't stay in garden!). In this picture (my very first ever attempt at planting, with several errors I now realise but I still love it!) on the far left there is something growing like mad but it doesn't seem to flower. Any idea what it is? That picture also has the little orange flowers with stiff heads that keep getting eaten.

LovelyTinOfSpam Thu 25-Jun-09 22:13:23

Ants aren't a pest (unless they get somewhere you don't want ants) but the blackfly will weaken the plant, although if it's established probably not kill it.

As for what to plant in place of foxgloves etc unfortunately my know-how has run out! I have only had a garden for 2.5 years - it was obviously nice before then left for a couple of years so I have been learning too. The pests are the first things you look up! I also seem to be permanantly heavily pregnant when the garden is at its peak so have not been doing a great job! We have done veg though I would really recommend runner beans - making the thing for them to grow up would be fun with kiddies and they are very reliable if they get past the slug eating size. Nice flowers too. We have also had success with potatoes and onions.

I have used the RHS website a lot and bought gardeners world magazine a few times - that has a website too.

Be careful though gardening is very addictive - yours sounds wonderful smile

Meglet Thu 25-Jun-09 22:21:43

make slug traps!! get margarine tubs / ice cream tubs and pour in some cheap beer /lager right to the brim. Pop them in the flower beds, dig a little hole so the rim is nearly flush to the earth.

wake up next morning to slug armageddon!! I don't have any slugs this year, I think I wiped them out last summer.

and if you have a few nettles try to keep them as butterflys lay their eggs on them.

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Thu 25-Jun-09 22:25:22

Interesting question anout the nematodes! As far as I know, nematodes can't do people any harm - the information here mentions using them on crops, which suggests they're harmless to humans. There's some more advice about slugs here.

I'm afraid I can't magnify the pictures enough to identify the flowers. Could the orange flower be a calendula (pot marigold)? They're a good plant for veg plots. Trimming a petunia is fine - they can get very long and stringy if you don't.

I'm always happy to talk gardening!

LovelyTinOfSpam Thu 25-Jun-09 22:33:18

Ooh yes nematodes - we tried them last year and they were excellent but you need to get them in quite early - a few weeks before you put the tender plants/seedlings in.

They can't harm people. They target a specific animal so you get slug nematodes, snail nematodes etc.

link if you scroll to the bottom you can see some of the different sorts. Googling will get them cheaper but it's a thing to think about for next year if you do veg i reckon.

navyeyelasH Thu 25-Jun-09 22:44:48

Lovelytinofspam - I'm already addicted to weeding. Pulling them out is quite theraputic really; never thought I'd say that!

Meglet, that is such a good idea! Love the idea of slug Armageddon! I have loads of nettles and brambles behind my garden wall. I'm just going to trim them back but leave them there I think.

Madbadanddangerous to know yes I think they are calendula - are they a favourite of slugs? I only ask about ringworm, because working with children they seem to find their way into me quite easily (TMI!). So am a bit OTT about worms/fingers in mouth etc; but I did google and you're right them seem harmless.

Is there a right/wrong way to trim a petunia?

Also while we're all here- is there such a thing as a modern hanging basket? I'm thinking about steel looking constructions. Might have a google!

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Thu 25-Jun-09 22:56:26

Oooh. This is getting to be like gardening porn!

There are some funkier hanging baskets. I bought one in rusted iron. It looked fab, but it was incredibly heavy and when we had all the snow, the bracket snapped under the weight, the basket crashed to the ground and chipped the huge terracotta pot beneath it. Joe Swift made a conical 'basket' on Gardeners World out of shiny metal (aluminium?) recently although, frankly, it didn't float my boat. I now stick with the twiggy-looking ones. They're not cutting-edge cool but they look good and are light.

To trim petunias, I usually just cut off the wilted, straggly-looking bits so that there's still a fair-sized plant but it's more compact.

<<Wields secateurs>>

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Thu 25-Jun-09 22:57:48

PS ... And bear in mind that a metal hanging basket may fry the plants in hot weather.

LovelyTinOfSpam Thu 25-Jun-09 23:02:17

I thought of the joe swift effort too madbad!

Maybe hanging baskets are a case of, if they aint broke, don;t fix. They are after all definitely not trendy so tried and tested may well be best...

I don;t have petunias the slugs always eat them...

I wish I could get out there but am 38 weeks and it's all I can do to move off the sofa! Next year...

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Thu 25-Jun-09 23:06:08

My sympathies, LTOS.

It took me a very long time to have a baby, so I had time to develop a serious gardening addiction!

LovelyTinOfSpam Thu 25-Jun-09 23:09:14

Thing is DH is not very proactive in these things and it is going mad out there.

He hasn't even lifted the onions yet despite many hints...

And I'm having my baby on Monday!

Must be nice passing your gardening addiction onto your DC smile

ABetaDad Thu 25-Jun-09 23:14:06

LovelyTinOfspam - all the very best for Monday (or whenever it happens). I suspect DH might never get those onions lifted now.

Nice fun name by the way. smile

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