Green Fingers I Wish

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Free Shipping On Lawn Mowers

Free Shipping on All Lawn Mowers Sold by Home Improvement

Until July 4, Standard Shipping in the continental United States is free on all lawn mowers sold by Home Improvement. Shop our unbelievable selection of cordless, electric, gas-powered, and reel walk-behind mowers as well as riding mowers and tractor attachments from great brands like Black & Decker, Lawn Boy, MTD, Poulan, Yard Man, and more.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Scottish palm tree defies experts

Scottish palm tree defies experts

A Perthshire gardener has confounded experts by growing a 22ft tall palm tree in his back garden.

Retired antiques dealer Ian Imrie has spent 21 years tending the tree at his home in Bridge of Earn.

Palm trees are known to grow in the west of Scotland thanks to the effects of the Gulf Stream, which transports warm tropical water to the area.

By contrast, the tree has proven notoriously difficult to grow in the colder east.

Ian, 68, who bought the tree two decades ago from an English plant dealer, said it had grown a foot in height each year since.

As a Trachycarpuspus Fortunei or Windmill Palm, the tree has flowered at the start of every summer while growing to its enormous height.

Ian is convinced the phenomenon is thanks to heat from the exhaust of his gas-fired central heating system.

He said: "The experts say they can grow from six to 10ft tall at most, in some warmer parts of Britain, aided by the Gulf Stream.

"But everyone is baffled as to how I could grow one more than 20ft high in Bridge of Earn, on the east of Scotland.

"But to be honest, we think the exhaust from the house's heating system, which comes out nearby, has raised the temperature and helped it grow."

Ian, who also works as an artist, admitted even he had been surprised by the success of the tree, considering its location.

He added: "I just bought it because I like unusual plants. I've got a garden full of them, but the palm tree has done really well and it flowers every year."

Palm trees can be a familiar site to visitors in some areas of the west coast of Scotland.

The fishing village of Plockton has a scenic harbour lined with palms due to the warmth brought by the Gulf Stream.

Ian's wife Margaret added: "It is absolutely amazing that it has grown to such a height in this part of the world.

"When Ian is not painting in his studio, he spends a lot of his time in the garden tending to his palm tree.

"It is our pride and joy."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Flies have free will

Flies have free will, according to scientists

Next time that fly is buzzing around your head, don't think it's just flying about at random to annoy you.

In fact it knows exactly where it is going and what it is doing.

This is because flies have free will, experts have found.

Variable behaviour in insects has generally been put down to random activity in the brain.

But an international study of fruit flies has shown that their actions appear to be spontaneous.

Dr George Sugihara, of the University of California in San Diego, said: 'The results of our analysis indicate a mechanism which might be common to many other animals and could form the biological foundation for what we experience as free will.'

Scientists tethered fruit flies in white surroundings for the study and recorded their turning behaviour.

The flies received no visual cues from what was around them. Analysis of their movements found they were far from random.

The research, reported in the online journal PLoS ONE, could lead to the development of robots with a similar capacity for spontaneous, nonrandom behaviour.

It could also help combat disorders that affect human behaviour, such as depression, schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Discover Bluebell Woods

For anyone who`s interested in Bluebells this is an excellent site to find out about the locations of bluebell woods. It has some handy guides to help discover and explore woodland wonders.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Constructing your own decking

Decking can be built in almost any shape, colour or size, which means you can design it to suit your tastes and budget. It's possible to construct simple decks yourself, but professional advice is recommended when constructing complicated designs or high structures.

Choosing your materials

You can use softwood or hardwood for decking. The most popular choice in the UK is softwood that's been pressure treated with a preservative to prevent rotting.

Grooved decking boards

Standard components and decking boards are available from DIY stores and timber merchants, and should last about 25 years. Ready prepared decking kits are also available. Hardwood decking boards don't require pressure treatment.

Always ensure the wood has been obtained from a sustainable resource - look for the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) label.

Decking boards are usually 75mm to 150mm wide. The wider boards are quicker to lay (because there are less of them), but narrower boards are often considered to look nicer.

Coloured deck

Grooved boards are available; these offer better grip particularly when it's wet. It's possible to choose coloured boards, too, although you can always paint the decking once it's built. Whichever type you choose, it should have rounded edges to protect feet and improve drainage.
Site preparation

After working out the size and orientation of the deck, clear and prepare the site.

Nothing spoils a new deck more than weeds growing through cracks in its boards, so before you start clear all vegetation and turf from the area. Compact and level the ground, leaving a gentle slope towards the outer edge of the deck to allow for drainage. Lay a weed-suppressing membrane over the surface and cover with gravel.
Tools required

* drill
* saw
* screwdriver
* set square
* spade
* spirit level
* tape measure

Materials required

* ballast
* cement
* blocks for the posts to rest on
* bolts to support the outer frame
* decking boards (100mm x 25mm/4in x 1in)
* joist hangers
* stainless steel screws, countersunk
* wooden joists (150mm x 50mm/6in x 2in)
* wooden posts (100mm x 100mm/4in x 4in)

Step by step
Finished decking

The basic principle of constructing a deck is to attach the decking boards to a timber frame that consists of horizontal joists attached to vertical posts. It's always advisable to consult a professional when undertaking a major building project. However, here's a guide for constructing a small decking area.

1 Measure out the area the deck will cover and work out where the posts will go. A deck should be supported by posts on all corners and every 1.5m (5ft) around the perimeter, although more posts are required if the deck will be supporting heavy loads.

2 Dig holes 300mm to 400mm (12in to 15in) deep and 300mm (12in) wide for the posts. Put a building block in the bottom of each hole and place the post on top of this. Use a spirit level to make sure the posts are upright, then fill the holes with concrete. You must wait for the concrete to harden before continuing with construction, which should take one to two days.

3 Using bolts, attach the joists to the outside of the posts at the desired height to form the outside edge of the frame. Leave the posts long, as you can attach rope later to form a banister.

4 Attach joists to the inside of the frame every 300mm to 450mm (12in to 15in), using either joist hangers or screws.

5 To improve the stability and prevent any sideways movement from the deck, add shorter lengths of wood (150mm x 50mm/6in x 2in) every one to two metres (4ft to 6ft), perpendicular to the inside of the joists.

6 Screw the decking boards to the joists, leaving a gap of 6mm to 10mm between each board. This will allow the boards room to expand during wet periods. It will also ensure sufficient drainage and ventilation. If using hardwood, drill the holes in advance. Decking boards are usually laid at 90 or 45 degrees to the joists. Always lay decking when the boards are dry.

7 Once the decking boards are attached, use string to form a straight line along the edges of the deck and saw them all off in one go. Allow the boards an overlap of about 5cm (2in) over the frame. Paint the cut ends with a sealant to prevent water penetrating the deck.

8 Paint the deck with a coloured deck stain if required and coat with a clear water repellent.
Care and maintenance

* Furniture should be placed on rubber feet or mats to minimise damage.
* Put pots on bricks to allow the air to circulate and to prevent a build up of mould.
* Check bolts and screws regularly and tighten if necessary.
* Regularly clean the deck with a brush to remove dirt. A stiff brush should also remove mildew and algae.
* Occasionally remove mildew, algae and dirt with a pressure hose or deck-cleaning liquid.
* Once a year, add a clear water repellent.
* Check for damaged boards and replace as necessary.