Green Fingers I Wish

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bid to halt bumblebee decline


A national drive to help boost the number of bumblebees in Britain has been launched.

Campaigners from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust are calling on the public to take part in a bumblebee survey to catalogue different species.

Conservationists from the University of Stirling want gardeners to help them get a better idea of the national distribution of bumblebees.

Studies show that in recent years three species have become extinct in Britain.

Studies show that three species of the insect have become extinct in Britain, while another nine are endangered.

Researches said the decline was largely down to changes in the countryside with a reduction in flowers, hedges and marshland.

Bee numbers could be increased by simply changing the plants grown in gardens.

One expert commented that g ardeners can do a lot to help just by planting the right sorts of plants in their garden by moving away from traditional bedding plants to more cottage garden styles of plants.

Those wishing to take part in the survey are being asked to record the bumblebees in their area by taking photographs and emailing the trust.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Whether you want flowers, scent or spectacular foliage, container-grown climbers can be planted at any time of the year, as long as the ground isn’t waterlogged or frozen.

Unless your climber is self-supporting, you need to make sure that it has something to cling to. Trellis is ideal, but if you have a fence or a wall, you will need to fix up a network of wires. On walls, hammer vine eyes into the mortar, 1.8m (6ft) apart, and make a series of horizontal rows, leaving 45cm (18in) between layers. The first row should be 30cm (12in) off the ground. Thread wire through the first vine eye and pull it back on itself and twist a few times to secure. Do the same at the other end, keeping the wire taut. Cut off any excess. With fences, drill holes through posts and fit eyebolts. Secure wire the same way as for walls.
How to plant a climber

1. Water the plant well and allow to drain.
2. Dig out a planting hole about twice the size of the pot and half as deep again. It needs to be about 30cm (12in) away from the wall or fence, to ensure the climber gets plenty of moisture – the soil can become very dry near the base of a wall. Lightly fork the bottom of the hole.
3. Knock the plant carefully from its container and if the roots look congested, tease them out gently before planting. Place in the bottom of the hole and make sure the hole is not too deep or shallow.
4. Clematis should be planted 6cm (2.5in) beneath the surface, but the top of the root ball of other climbers should be at the same level as the top of the soil – test by laying a cane across the hole. Fill around the roots with soil and firm with your foot.


Water well and mulch to suppress weeds and conserve moisture. Bark chippings or leaf mould are perfect. Spread out stems and tie to the supports with garden twine. To ensure the climber thrives, water well for the first few months after planting and ensure it doesn’t dry out in sunny weather.
Climbers to try
For shade

* Hedera (ivy) – glossy leaved climber
* Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris (Climbing hydrangea) – self-supporting with white flowers
* Humulus lupulus ‘Golden Tassels’ (hop) – golden leaved hop

For sun

* Rosa ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ (rose) – blousy deep pink, scented blooms
* Passiflora caerulea (passionflower) – exotic flowers
* Wisteria floribunda ‘Alba’ – scented, white pea-like flower

Fragrant flowers

* Lonicera x Americana (honeysuckle) – Yellow flowers, flushed red are heavily perfumed
* Akebia quinata (chocolate vine) – red flowers with chocolate scent
* Jasminum officinale (jasmine) – tiny white flowers pack a powerful perfume

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Free `Organic Gardens` for Schools

This is a fantastic offer from 'Rocket gardens'.

They are offering every school in the country a free 'organic garden' (basically, organically grown and raised veg plants that arrive ready to put in the soil).

It`s a bid to encourage healthy eating, sustainable future, reducing pesticides in our children's food and teaching about the seasons / gardening etc

Visit Rocket Gardens and find the 'rocket gardens for schools project' tab along the top to find out more and get your school to apply.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Fungi growth affected by temperatures in southern England

A remarkable father-and-son research project has revealed how rising temperatures are affecting fungi in southern England.

Fungus enthusiast Edward Gange amassed 52,000 sightings of mushroom and toadstools during walks around Salisbury over a 50-year period.

Analysis by his son Alan, published in the journal Science, shows some fungi have started to fruit twice a year.

It is among the first studies to show a biological impact of warming in autumn.

"My father was a stonemason, and his hobby was mycology," recounted Alan Gange, an ecology professor at Royal Holloway, University of London.

"For 50 years of his life, he went out and recorded the appearance of mushrooms and toadstools around Salisbury, and he also got his friends in the local natural history group to bring back samples they found when they were out walking.

"When he retired, he bought himself a computer, taught himself (the spreadsheet program) Excel, and typed in all these 52,000 records."

Now Mr Gange senior finds his enthusiasm and diligence rewarded as a named author on a paper in one of the two most eminent scientific journals in the world.

"I'm on top of the world, I can't quite believe it yet," he told the BBC News website.

Strange fruit

The records included sightings of 315 species of mushrooms and toadstools which appear in the autumn, being the seasonal fruiting parts of fungi that live in the soil, on rotting wood or in tree roots.

One of the changes Professor Gange turned up was that the autumnal fruiting period has expanded. Some mushrooms and toadstools are emerging earlier each year, others later, which he thinks are responses to warmer temperatures and higher rainfall.

More spectacularly, he found that more than one third of the species recorded have started to fruit twice per year. There was no record of this before 1976; but since then, 120 species have shown an additional fruiting in spring.

"I looked up the data on the average temperature for February in southern England during the 1950s, and it was 3.5C," he said.

"In the current decade it's 5.2C. We used to get cold days and nights in February which caused fungi to be dormant; these days we get very little of that."

In recent years a significant number of studies have found changes in species' behaviour during springtime apparently related to climate change, with growing seasons starting earlier, and young animals born in months which would, in previous years, have been too cold.

This is one of the first studies to show a parallel trend in autumn.

After more than 50 years of observing the natural world, Edward Gange is convinced that the climate is changing - at least within a 30km radius of Salisbury - though he prefers to attribute the warming to natural cycles rather than humanity's production of greenhouse gases.

"When I was a lad, it was an absolutely categorical fact that Red Admirals would not survive the winter," he said.

"This year we saw them on 19 January. That's a heck of a change, and it's not the only one."

BBC News