Green Fingers I Wish

Monday, September 25, 2006

Nong Nooch Garden - Thailand

Now this IS a Garden!!

Nong Nooch Garden

about 18 kilometers from South Pattaya, is a Thai-village-style recreational park. The entire area of some 500 acres is beautifully landscaped with an orchid nursery and other botanical gardens. There are also cultural and tradition performances and an elephant show.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Let`s look at garden `pests`

Garden pests can be annoying, carry disease, and some are even poisonous. Don`t put up with them. It doesn`t matter whether they fall into the category of animals, plants, fungi, or microbes, if they are where you don`t want them to be they are pests. Our range of pest control products will help get rid of those unwelcome visitors safely and effectively. Courtesy of Outdoor Living Supplies

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Why Spiders Are Beneficial

  • Spiders feed solely on insects and other arthropods. This makes them beneficial in helping manage pests.
  • Some spiders wander indoors in the early fall when cooler outdoor temperatures force them to find shelter.
  • Some spectacular spiders are found in webs outdoors in late summer, particularly the banded argiope and the “cat-face” spiders.
  • Common spiders found indoors include funnelweb spiders, cobweb spiders, cellar spiders, and sac spiders.

Spiders are beneficial arthropods, that survive by feeding on insects. Oftentimes they are the most important biological control of insect pests in gardens, fields, forests, and homes. However, their presence is a cause of concern to some people. Many people fear spiders beause of stories or myths. Others object to spiders because of their habit of building webs in and around the home. There are a few spiders whose bite require medical attention, but these are very rare in Colorado.

Spiders differ from insects in that they have eight legs (rather than six) and only two body regions (instead of three). The body regions include the cephalothorax (head and legs) and the abdomen. On the head are usually six to eight eyes, often arranged in pairs. The pattern of eye arrangement is characteristic for the different spider families.

Some spiders capture prey by using webs and venom. Others are active hunters that ambush or capture prey. These spiders physically overpower their prey and then use venom to immobilize them.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


There are about 600 species of spider in the British Isles, all of which are carnivores. The Garden or Orb Spider is the one which spins the large vertical web often highlighted by mists or morning dew. The female is bigger than the male, and with a larger abdomen in proportion to her body. Their colour can range from almost black to pale ginger, as with this specimen, and there is a characteristic pattern of white dots on the abdomen (opisthosoma) - usually in the form of a cross.
The typical arachnid four pairs of legs are relatively short compared to other species and they are covered with hairs or spines. They are attached to the front (prosoma) of the two sectioned body behind the mouth parts (chelicerae) and pedipalps which are used for holding prey and in the male, for holding the female when mating.

female garden spider

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Weather not bad at the moment

For September the weather here isn`t too bad at all. Not looking forward to the autumn and winter though I have to say. Cut the hedge today just to get it looking right till next year. Love to be able to do topiary.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Gardens of the future may have to change

Just saw a news report stating that gardeners are being advised to start thinking about planting different types of plants and trees compared to what they are normally used to - due to Global Warming.

The hotter summers and drier winters means that the traditional gardens we are used to may become a thing of the past.

Here are just a couple of plants being mentioned for `tomorrow`s garden.`

Bottle Brush plants belong to the Myrtle family, taking their name form the resemblance of the head of flowers to a bottle brush. They are well known also as greenhouse shrubs.

The other one which was mentioned is the Eucalyptus Tree of which there are reckoned to be about 500 species. Not too sure about the Koalas though.

Grass growing weather

It`s just so amazing how the combination of sun one day, rain the next, makes the grass grow so quickly.

No sooner than I cut the lawn last week it`s up there again, ready for another trim. Ah well, c`est la vie! I must admit I do quite like the smell of freshly cut grass so it isn`t too much of a hardship to mow it.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Common Frog - Another Friend

The Common Frog is the most widespread species in Europe. Their relatively smooth skin varies in colour from olive green and yellow, to dark brown, speckled with black, brown or red and can lighten or darken to blend in with the surroundings. There are dark cross bars on the limbs and a dark patch behind the eyes. The under side of the body is off-white or yellow with some speckles. The skin can also be used to 'breathe' when oxygen demand is low such as when hibernating through the winter in the debris at the bottom of a pond - they will also hibernate in cool moist conditions under logs or other plant debris where it is unlikely to freeze.
Males are slightly smaller than the females - an average size for an adult is 7.5 to 8 cm and 23g in weight. The males also have dark pads or swellings on the first digits of the fore legs which are used during mating to grip the female, they become more pronounced during the mating season. The long muscular hind limbs enable them to leap about 50cm.

They prefer to be in cool, moist conditions under dense herbaceous foliage where they prey on invertebrates like slugs, snails, worms and insects, trapping them with their long, sticky tongues. This makes them a garden friend as anything which reduces the slug and snail population is most welcome. Apart from during the breeding season they are found in gardens, open fields and in woods, coming to bodies of shallow water in the spring to find a mate. They do not search for food in water, and do not feed during the mating period. In the food chain, frogs form part of the diet of birds such as herons, foxes and other hunting mammals.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Trim Castle - Neath - Ireland

On a recent visit to Trim in Neath, Ireland, we visited Trim Castle, where the film Braveheart starring Mel Gibson was made in 1994. Many of the `extras` for the film were local Irish residents.

The castle is the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland, constructed by Hugh de Lacy and his son Walter over a 30 year period. Known as a `defensive` castle it was built not so much to protect the local inhabitants - more to keep them under control.

The Keep, which is shown here, is a massive 3 stories high, and was begun around 1176 on the site of an earlier wooden fortress. The grounds are accessible to all, but the Keep is only by guided tour for safety reasons.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Bumble Bees

The Bumble Bee is the largest species of bee found in the British Isles. There are about 19 species which can be identified from markings, mouth parts and body size, eg. the Bombus terrestris queen has orangy-yellow hairs at the end of its abdomen, whereas B. lucorum has lemon-yellow hairs (worker bees of both species have identical white hairs and are difficult to tell apart).
They live in colonies of up to 150, but only fertilised young queens survive the winter as they do not make enough honey to see them through the cold season. Their ability to sting is of concern to most people, but they are not as aggressive as honey-bees and the drones (males) do not have a sting at all. They will only sting under if duress, but do not lose the sting and die if they do, the same as Honeybees.

In March as the weather warms up the queen emerges to start a new colony in a vacant mouse nest or a dry hedgerow bank. She lays about six eggs in a ball of nectar and wax, adding to it as the hatched grubs feed and grow. These emerge as workers (females) a few days later, they begin to collect pollen and nectar to feed the grubs of the eggs the queen continues to lay. At the height of summer the nest is about 120mm in diameter and the queen begins to lay eggs which will become drones and new queens for the next year. The drones leave the nest to live independantly while looking for a queen to fertilize. At the first frosts the old queen, workers and drones are killed, only the fertilised new queens find a sheltered spot to hibernate.

Bumble-bees require a supply of pollen and nectar from spring to autumn so a succession of flowering plants in the garden will help them through their year. Primulas, heathers and flowering currant make an early supply. They perfer a warm south-facing, shelterd spot to nest; a clump of twigs and dry leaves or an upturned pot with dry hay or straw in it would provide suitable shelter. An old teapot, burried with the spout exposed in a downward position, is one way to provide a nesting site.
For hibernation a dry, north-facing position is best as an early sunny day may encourage the queen to emerge too soon, only to be killed by the frost.