Green Fingers I Wish

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pond plant engulfs Broads waters

Floating Pennywort
The American Floating Pennywort has taken over waterways

The American Floating Pennywort, which grows at up to 10in (25cm) a day, is clogging up waterways and threatens to smother native British plants.

The Broads Authority said the plant had grown over 10,000 sq ft of the River Waveney at Diss in the last few months.

Broads users have urged to inform the authority if they spot any large spanning weeds blocking waterways.

An agency spokesman said it was believed that Floating Pennywort had been dumped into wild waterways from people's garden ponds.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Animal Charity Starts Mole Count

Star nosed mole
Contrary to popular opinion wildlife experts say moles are beneficial
The People's Trust for Endangered Species says the much-maligned mammal is actually a misunderstood creature which can help gardeners and farmers.

The survey will involve a molehill count because the underground-dwelling animals are rarely seen.

The trust hopes to compile a map of the distribution of the animals to help with future research.

Britons have historically had a mixed relationship with the creatures.

Conservationists say farmers would hang moles from gibbets to ward off other moles, and moleskin clothing became so fashionable in the 19th Century that up to 13 million skins were sold a year.

Ways of deterring or terminating moles are a frequent topic of conversation among gardeners.

However, wildlife experts say moles are beneficial because they eat insects and aerate the soil with their tunnels.

The online survey will be taking place until September 2008.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hundreds of Medicinal Plants Threatened By Extinction

Magnolias are one of hundreds of plants under threat.

Over 50% of prescription drugs are derived from chemicals first identified in plants.

But the Botanic Gardens Conservation International said many were at risk from over-collection and deforestation.

Researchers warned the cures for things such as cancer and HIV may become "extinct before they are ever found".

The group, which represents botanic gardens across 120 countries, surveyed over 600 of its members as well as leading university experts.


Yew tree - Cancer drug paclitaxel is derived from the bark, but it takes six trees to create a single dose so growers are struggling to keep up
Hoodia - Plant has sparked interest for its ability to suppress appetite, but vast quantities have already been "ripped from the wild" as the search for the miracle weight drug continues
Magnolia - Has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for 5,000 years as it is believed to help fight cancer, dementia and heart disease. Half the world's species threatened, mostly due to deforestation
Autumn crocus - Romans and Greeks used it as poison, but now one of the most effective treatments for gout. Under threat from horticulture trade

They identified 400 plants that were at risk of extinction.

Monday, January 14, 2008

First case of deadly plant fungus

Rhododendron plants in Argyll were found with the deadly disease

Phytophthora kernoviae, a fungus-like pathogen, has been found on two Rhododendron plants in a private garden in Argyll.

It was first discovered in the south-west of England in 2003.

A Scottish Government spokesman said the Forestry Commission will destroy the infected plants to prevent the disease spreading.

The disease acts in a similar way to Phytophthora ramorum, known as Sudden Oak Death in the USA, which has previously been found in four gardens in Scotland.

The pathogen causes bleeding bark cankers which can girdle and kill affected trees.

It also causes leaf blights on a range of shrubs, particularly Rhododendron, as well as some trees.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Choose from some great houseplants for the winter.

What to choose -

* The blooms of hyacinth bulbs are guaranteed to fill your house with their strong floral perfume.
* Delicate cyclamen plants are perfect for any cool windowsill.
* Azaleas produce bright pink and purple flowers, and if deadheaded should flower for about six weeks.
* Winter-flowering orchids such as cymbidiums have impressive, tropical-looking flowers.
* Flowering at Christmas time, a schlumbergera succulent survives well in centrally-heated homes.
* The classic winter plant, the poinsettia, should be chosen with care to ensure your plant will flower for as long as possible.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Protecting Plants Against Frost

During the dormant period, many plants succumb to frost or to cold, excessively wet soil. Leaves may become frost-bitten and roots can rot. So it’s important to protect your plants before first frosts strike, to ensure a good display the following year.

The level of winter protection required depends on where you live and how exposed your garden is. In sheltered city gardens, you may get away with not protecting tender plants at all. However, if you are going to experiment, do pay attention to weather forecasts – don’t get caught out by a sudden hard frost.

Planted pots

For general protection of your garden apply a layer of bark compost or mulch 5cm (2in) deep around herbaceous perennials but use grit around the plants themselves. This will stop moisture collecting and rotting the stems while the mulch will keep them warm. The mulch will also help by breaking down over the winter months, adding organic matter to the soil and improving drainage. Also, as you prepare your plants, take cuttings as you go. This will be your insurance policy, in case plants don't survive.


Plants such as echeverias will not withstand any frost at all. So they need to be transferred into grit to stop the roots of the plant from rotting when dormant. Take cuttings by removing leaves from the bottom of the rosettes and simply put into seed compost and wait for roots to form.

Store your succulents in a mini green house in a sheltered spot against a wall. You can make your own mini green house by building a wooden frame with shelves and lining it with bubble wrap. This will keep the plants warm and dry; ventilate them each morning to stop moisture building up by opening up the green house .

Tree ferns

Planted pots

Use straw and chicken wire to insulate the trunk of tree ferns. Wrap the chicken wire around the trunk leaving enough space to add a thick layer of straw. The straw, unlike bubble wrap will allow enough ventilation through to keep the trunk warm. Bubble wrap or plastic allows moisture to build up around the trunk, leaving the plant prone to rotting. Leave the fronds on as they will protect the crown over winter. Don’t worry if fronds turn brown after frost or snow – you can cut them off in spring once the new ones start to unfurl. If you feel the plant needs more protection, stuff the crown with straw as well just before the first frost. Don’t do this too far in advance as it can encourage new vulnerable growth.

Banana plants

Tropical plants, such as bananas need to be well protected. Remove the leaves and side shoots to leave the trunk or stem. Space tall wooden or plastic stakes around the plant and push into the ground. Place the stakes far enough from the trunk so that a thick layer of straw can be added all the way around the trunk. Then wrap a willow screen around the outside of the stakes and tie this to the stakes with string. Do this for the whole height of the trunk. Finally pack the gap between the trunk and the willow screen tightly with straw.


Protect individual alpine plants with a piece of glass or plastic over the top. Support the glass or plastic with wire legs or raise it up onto bricks. Make sure it is not able to blow away. To protect a whole bed, build a wooden frame and place a sheet of plastic or glass on top. Leave the sides of the frame uncovered to allow plenty of ventilation.