Green Fingers I Wish

Monday, December 29, 2008

Erratic Weather Bad for UK Wildlife

UK wildlife is struggling to cope as erratic and unseasonal weather has taken its toll for a second consecutive year, the National Trust says.

The wet summer with little sunshine and a long, dry autumn have caused big problems for birds, mammals and particularly insects.

Species under threat include puffins, marsh fritillary butterflies and lesser horseshoe bats.

They warned another wet summer in 2009 could be a disaster for insects.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Purple Squirrel Mystery

A purple squirrel which appeared at a school has baffled experts who are unable to explain its colour.

Teachers and pupils at Meoncross School in Stubbington, Hants, were amazed when they saw the creature through the window during a lesson.

The squirrel might have eaten a cartridge which has caused its coat to change to purple, so when it moults next year it`ll lose most of the purple.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Plastic Plant Pots Problem

Biodegradable pots, made from a range of materials such as coir, wood chips, rice husks, miscanthus or seaweed, are becoming increasingly popular, especially with organic gardeners. There are two types: ones that last a few months and can be planted straight into the soil, where they gradually break down and add humus to the soil; and more rigid ones made from plant materials such as rice husks and latex which last up to three years and can be put on your home compost heap to degrade.

The problem is that the plastic plant pot is the gardener's equivalent to the shopper’s plastic carrier bag: we know we use too many of them but they’re cheap and they’re handy. But, they pile up, in our gardens, in our bins, and the majority of them are either sent to landfill or incinerated.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tips for Flower Arranging Beginners

With a little imagination and by following certain principles of design, you can transform the random collection into an elegant and artistic flower arrangement. And this will add beauty and color to your home.

What is meant by design? It is the pattern of the: flower arrangement, and it embraces the basic elements of line, form, color and texture. Slender flowers or branches supply line. The variety of the plant world itself furnishes form and color. Surface quality of the material is called texture. For example, chrysanthemums are coarse, whereas gladioli are smooth. Woody stems and leaves, too, show different textural characteristics.

Your design may be circular or triangular, or it may follow a vertical or a horizontal line or an S-curve. A pyramid, cone, oblong, or ellipse design also may be used. Once the main arrangement outline has been chosen, design calls for a planned relationship among all the components, that is, among the flowers, leaves and any other material, as well as the container or vase.

Interesting effects are achieved if the spaces in the composition vary in size and shape. When some of the plant materials in a grouping extend forward and others backward, the impression is three-dimensional.

Tips for Flower Arranging Beginners

Although far from being strict rules, the following simple tips are useful to the beginner.

(1) Use tall sprays of small flowers and closed buds to furnish long lines. They also serve for filler material.

(2) For weight and stability, place large flowers and dark materials low in the composition.

(3) Do not place one bloom directly above the other. Except in modern symmetrical compositions, avoid geometrical precision.

(4) For harmony, always use colors in masses or clusters, never scattered thoughtlessly.

(5) Always take care to build three sides of your arrangement, since the viewer can see the front and the two sides.

(6) Give the arrangement a three-dimensional effect by turning some flowers and foliage sideways. Large compositions look richer with some clusters of flowers and leaves turned to the side and curved backward from the central section.

Monday, December 08, 2008

National Trust Wants To Clear Rhododendrons

With its exotic flowers, rhododendron ponticum has been popular in ornamental parks and gardens since it was brought to the UK from the East in the 19th Century.

But the alien invader is spreading two new plant diseases that could seriously affect native species and wipe out important heath land.

The National Trust is so concerned about the problem it has written to the Government asking for funds to help clear rhododendrons.

It says it out of control in many areas of the country.

Rhododendrons were first brought to the UK from Japan and India by plant collectors in the 19th century.

The small trees have been blamed for crowding out many native plant species and there have already been culls to save native woodland on National Trust properties in the South West, Wales and Scotland.

Now there is a new concern that the plant is host to two deadly new plant diseases from the phytophthora fungus - known as the plant destroyer.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Super Ants on way to Britain

A new ant which was discovered less than 20 years ago could be on the way to wreak havoc in parks and gardens of Northern Europe including Britain, according to a report published today.

The invasive pest ant Lasius neglectus has been found in more than 100 locations across Europe, where it quickly exterminates its local rivals, the study says.

It resembles the common black garden ant but the number of workers crawling around is between 10 and 100 times greater.

The ant is able to thrive in the temperate climate zones of Europe and Asia, and has now reached Jena in Germany, Ghent in Belgium, and Warsaw in Poland.

They can move to new areas when they infest large potted plants which are then moved around across borders.