Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The unnatural gardener

Another fine article from Peter Williams


I wrote about Peter’s wonderful garden last year. I also published his own article about rhododendrons which he had previously written for the local Beverley based coven of the Hardy Plant Society of which he is a member and regularly attends their fine lectures. Not to mention his own!
This year I persuaded him to go the whole hog and submit his new article to the ‘Hardy Plant’! What a fine name for a wonderful magazine published twice yearly by the Hardy Plant Society - of which I am also a member. Members of the National groups and /or local groups are keen knowledgeable gardeners. The articles in the Hardy Plant are written by real gardeners both amateur and professional. A cut above the usual gardening press.

Don’t let me put you off  - new gardeners are well represented in their ranks  - and experienced gardeners are only too pleased to share their skills. Please join and also enrich your garden through their annual seed distribution!

Peter’s article has been sitting waiting on my computer for six months. It has now been published in the ‘Hardy Plant’ and I have been given the go ahead to republish. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Peter Williams unashamedly confesses to unnatural gardening practices

Natural gardening and gardening with nature are currently very fashionable ideas. We are urged to embrace this philosophy with the assurance that, if we do, our gardening experience will be enhanced. It is suggested that if we would only adopt these principles, the plants and animals in our gardens would reach a new equilibrium and there would be fewer outbreaks of pests and diseases.

I didn’t really understand these principles, or how they were supposed to work at the ecological level, so I started to think around the concept. 
I quickly came to the conclusion that believing that you can garden naturally is about as sensible as believing in the tooth fairy! Now I have to say, right at the outset, that I am not a natural gardener, and I confess that many of the things I get up to in my garden can only be described as unnatural practices. Natural gardeners do exist, but they are folk who have absolutely no interest in cultivating plants or land, and simply leave their gardens to ‘go wild’ or revert to nature.
Any form of practical gardening is simply meddling with nature – and it’s great fun and brings enormous satisfaction.
This meddling with nature takes many forms and includes introducing species collected by plant hunters from all over the world, or new hybrids produced accidentally or intentionally by plant breeders. Moving plants around the globe, and searching out improved cultivars to plant in our gardens, has always been a fundamental gardening activity – although it has also been responsible for introducing some new pests and diseases that threaten many of our truly natural plant communities.
In order for our chosen plants to survive and flourish, we gardeners have to intervene on their behalf in an attempt to suspend natural processes. Such interventions include weeding, feeding, supporting, pest reduction, and changing the microclimate, sometimes to the extent of constructing glasshouses and even heating them with fossil fuels. We import/export soil and substrates; we dig and rake; we water; we spray; we lift and store tender perennials – but as long as we have nice irregular flower beds and wavy paths, we plant in drifts and we never use nasty chemicals (except of course in emergencies) we may still claim to garden naturally!
Except in an emergency
For the sake of discussion, let’s look at three aspects of natural gardening.
 Naturalistic planting
This probably means different things to different people, but my understanding is that it is an attempt to copy some features of natural areas and transplant them into our own patches. For example, over many years at Chelsea, famous nurseries like Backhouse of York and Wood of Boston Spa, created pretend Scottish Highland rock streams or mountain screes to show the landscapers’ craft and mastery of the natural world. Such exhibits started to decline in the mid 50s and were virtually extinct by the late 60s, demonstrating that what’s considered to be desirably naturalistic changes with fashion.
More recently we have seen the rise of prairie gardening, where ornamental grasses and various types of daisies are planted in broad sweeps at great density to create a colourful wilderness which reaches its peak in late summer and autumn These pretend prairies must be a godsend to nursery owners and they can look stunning in the first few years, but the difficulty of maintaining them probably means that they won’t stay in fashion for long. A number of well known prairie gardens have had to be replanted after just a few years because they became dull, weed-infested and truly natural looking!
In prairie style, monardas and heleniums are densely planted for dramatic effect and weed exclusion
Meadow gardening is another form of naturalistic gardening, and some garden meadows do resemble real meadows quite closely. The only difficulty is that even ancient meadows are not really natural and require management on a large scale, by grazing at appropriate animal densities and appropriate times of year, or by annual cutting and hay removal. In a garden situation, on a normal-size plot, it is extremely difficult to recreate a natural-looking meadow. In most cases the soil is too fertile, and the advice is usually to strip off the top 10cm of soil and start again. Even if soil fertility is suitably low, many newly created meadows where expensive wild-flower seed mixes have been sown look for a few weeks like an explosion in a paint factory – a riot of different colours from the predominantly annual species in the seed mix. Then nature intervenes and, sadly for the proud owners of these bright patchworks, the meadows never look quite ‘as good’ again unless they are re- sown.
A contrived meadow of a commercial wild flower mix gives a riot of colour that needs replanting each year
Perhaps I am guilty of taking a lowbrow, practical approach, so to redress the balance I’ll turn to Sarah Price, the current doyen of naturalistic gardeners. Ms. Price has created beautiful gardens at Chelsea and elsewhere, and has written eloquently about their creation. Thus she writes ‘plantings must have a sense of transparency. Sunlight filters through the tallest plants, through the different heights and forms; petals and grasses appear to glow from within, while the striking forms of seed heads form strong, dark silhouettes. To be surrounded by this ethereal sort of beauty is an almost transcendental experience.’

Now, while I really appreciate a beautifully designed garden or border, most of my transcendental experiences in the garden have been greatly facilitated by a glass of cold Chardonnay! However, the serious point is that talented designers like Ms Price take immense care in selecting and arranging plants so that they bear a resemblance to an idealised natural environment. The gardens may well be beautiful, desirable and give great pleasure, and that is absolutely fine, but they are no more natural than a garden with a pin-striped lawn, rows of dahlias, an African-style thatched breeze hut and a few eucalyptus trees.

Havens for wildlife
When I read gardening magazines I sometimes feel I must be failing because the main thrust of my activities is not to provide a safe haven for local wildlife. While I’m passionate about conservation and actively involved in the Wildlife Trust movement, I don’t believe that it’s the principal role of gardeners to create mini nature reserves. Gardens do provide very local habitats for wildlife, but often they’re not of real importance because they’re too small, too isolated and too transient. Sustainable nature management requires ‘more, bigger, better and joined up’ regions, as suggested by the Lawton Report, Making Space for Nature: A review of England’s Wildlife Sites and Ecological Network (2010). 

In fact I spend a disproportionate amount of time attempting to keep much of the local wildlife out of my garden. I spent the first few months of retirement attempting to rabbit and badger-proof my garden. I had a real sense of achievement when I completed the fencing and naively thought that the problem was solved. I could not understand how the occasional rabbit still got in – until the first snowfall that winter when distinctive footprints indicated a nocturnal rabbit super-highway under my front gate. I fixed this by attaching plastic clematis netting to the bottom of the gate that dragged on the gravel. At dusk a week later I spotted a tawny owl on the post near the front gate and excitedly called to my wife to come and look. When asked if she could see it, she replied, “Yes, and two rabbits on the drive”. A short period of observation revealed that rabbits could charge the plastic netting and get through! These invasion routes now closed, all I have to do is find a way to prevent squirrels and mice from eating the hardy cyclamen, crocuses and tulips that I try to naturalise in my grassed areas, and to stop deer jumping the rabbit fence to graze everything woody. I was dumbfounded to read an article in one of our leading gardening magazines which gave natural gardeners tips for attracting animals, including muntjac deer, into their gardens. John McEnroe’s famous words came to mind – “You can not be serious!”
In the garden – you must be joking


All these wonderful ‘natural scenes’ have been influenced by man
Of course the animals that we should help are the birds, bees and other insects; or, more precisely, some of the birds and bees. Bees of all sorts are welcome, as are many bugs – lacewings and ladybirds (except of course the new foreign invader, the harlequin), and butterflies, so long as their caterpillars eat someone else’s plants or stay on the small wild patch that we have set aside. Lily beetles, vine weevils, and slugs and snails give some of us nightmares, so obviously they are not included in our invitation to cohabit in our gardens
This predator is welcome –as long it is not a harlequin ladybird
Birds are welcome of course, except certainly pigeons, probably magpies, and possibly sparrow hawks. On a recent garden visit I was talking to the owner of a lovely garden when a sparrow hawk flew through. I was delighted to see such a magnificent creature, but the owner got very angry and explained that she only wanted little birds in her garden, and she resented spending a lot of money buying bird food only for some of the small birds to be eaten by a hawk. I tried to suggest that the sparrow hawk was only doing what sparrow hawks naturally do, and that its presence indicated a healthy ecosystem, but the owner was un- convinced. She was equally unconvinced when I suggested that gardeners’ cats eat far more birds than sparrow hawks.



Robins and long- tailed tits are always welcome, but is a sparrow hawk undesirable or an indicator of a healthy ecosystem?
Organic practices
Natural gardeners refrain from using unnatural ‘chemicals’ in the garden and would certainly not use pesticides or herbicides. I can totally understand their sentiments – few people would want to use toxic chemicals on their plants, especially their food plants, without thinking about it very carefully. The problem is that sometimes it’s not possible to control pests or weeds by natural or accepted organic methods. There are no effective organic controls for lily beetle or bindweed, Japanese knotweed or couch grass and, except perhaps in the smallest garden, it’s impossible to squash all the pests or pull out all the weeds.
Biological controls are excellent in some situations, for example, curbing glasshouse whitefly with parasitic wasps; but it can be very difficult as an amateur gardener to obtain or use biological systems, for instance to control the larvae of vine weevil, while the insecticide thiacloprid (Provado) works very well. Similarly, glyphosate (Roundup) is very effective in controlling even dense areas of couch and, used carefully, is an invaluable tool.
Now from a biological point of view, poisoning your neighbour and/or protecting yourself with toxic chemicals is a very natural thing to do. Allellopathy is the ability of a plant species to excrete chemicals into the environment that inhibit the growth of competing plants. Couch grass (Elymus repens) is a classic example: its root exudates reduce the ability of competing plants to take up nutrients. Highly invasive plants like Golden Rod (Solidago canadensis) (and a hybrid Japanese knotweed (Fallopia x bohemica) have been shown to be allelopathic.
Golden Rod escaping into the Derbyshire countryside
It may come as a surprise to some natural gardeners that very many plants protect themselves chemically against grazing animals. Indeed, many of the world’s most poisonous substances are natural plant products. The alkaloid strychnine is present in the bark and seeds of the poison- nut tree Strychnos nux-vomica, native to India and adjoining regions. It is very toxic to rodents and probably plays a role in protecting the tree against rodent attack. Similarly, eucalyptus species contain powerful alkaloid toxins that protect against herbivorous marsupials. Some common insecticides are based on chemicals extracted from wild plants: thus nicotine and pyrethrin (and their slightly modified derivatives) are widely used to kill insects. Defence against insects is precisely the role these chemicals played in the wild plant. The Victorians knew that the damaged leaves of green laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) release hydrogen cyanide, so butterfly collectors placed crushed leaves in the bottom of a Kilner-type jar to kill the specimens they’d caught. The ability to produce cyanide when damaged is known as cyanogenesis and is widespread in the plant world. It occurs in white clover (Trifolium repens) and Bird’s Foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), and many of the world’s most common food plants including maize, wheat and sugar cane. The amounts of hydrogen cyanide produced are not usually great, but they’re enough to deter grazing animals.
Sinigrin, the natural chemical that gives brassicas their distinctive ‘cabbagey’ smell and taste, is also a substance that is very toxic to most insects. This might come as a surprise to allotment holders who frequently see their cabbages shredded by cabbage-white caterpillars, but it shows that plants do not have it all their own way. Animals co-evolve with plants, and those that can overcome plant toxicity may have an exclusive food source. A small number of insects have become resistant to sinigrin and now use it as an attractant; for example, the cabbage white butterfly specifically seeks out leaves containing this chemical on which to lay its eggs. (The whole field of plant/animal interactions is fascinating, and relevant to gardeners: think of peonies paying ants protection money (nectar) to keep them free of aphids.)
I’m not trying to persuade you to change your gardening practices radically, but to think about the relationships between gardening and natural ecosystems. Gardening is one of the few areas of life where you can do more or less as you please, and I am encouraging you to do just that. Even experienced Hardy Planters may not be immune from the pervasive influence of television and magazine gardeners who have programmes and pages to fill. It is their remit to be ‘trendy’, no matter how impractical, and their gardens have to last only a year or two before the next fashionable planting scheme.

Don’t get stressed because your activities may not, in the current climate, be seen as ‘ecologically sound’. Do it because you enjoy it. Finally, just remember this – leave your garden unattended for three weeks and it will become untidy, leave it for three months and it is a wilderness, leave it for three years and it is a nature reserve. Now that’s really natural gardening and is exactly what I intend to do when I am too old to keep up my unnatural practices.
It takes no time at all for a garden to return to nature
Peter Williams retired from teaching aspects of plant science to mildly enthusiastic undergraduates to ‘spend more time with his plants’ and occasionally talk about them to groups of totally enthusiastic Hardy Planters.
This article was first published in the East Yorkshire Group’s newsletter.
The photographs are Peter's own and those of Harry Poole


The week after Peter’s article was published he attended a gardening seminar at Askham Bryan College organised by that other fine gardening group, The Alpine Gardening Society. He sat next to a stranger and got talking - about the Hardy Plant Society! His neighbour asked him how he liked the new format of ‘The Hardy Plant’ and went on to remark about a particularly fine article by a ‘new writer’. Peter was able to say that it was he! How nice. Peter did say that if the comment had been critical he would have stayed schtum.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Jays

When I started to blog Harry and Cathi advised me that most gardeners loved birds and that pictures of animals might attract attention. Cathi as a publisher - of self published books, both paper and ethereal - even promoted me on wildlife blogs. Her idea was that if folk came to my site they might stay to read about the plants.
Although I love animals and have an intense interest in things biological my eyes only see plants. When Rowena visits she sits by my ponds and observes animal life invisible to me. When Harry Poole used to call round every day, with eyes like a hawk, he would point out all manner of wildlife including the activities of my crested newts. Unfortunately with similar acuity he would spot blemishes on our house and the rest of our property. Fortunately he would volunteer his expertise to repair them. Oh how we  miss him and now our house is falling down! 

Proud father

Harry was the most gifted photographer I have ever met. His pictures were - and still are - available for me to use on my blog. A modest man, he forbade me to use his name. I built up a reputation of being rather good with a camera. Folk know better now! These pictures of jays have sat on my computer for over a year now. I have not had the heart to publish them and preferred to write about things I pretend to actually know.

In fact my first wildlife photographs were taken by Brenda and me! Harry was in the picture! With his afore mentioned observational skills he had seen a sparrow hawk fly into my open garage, become trapped and distressed. I forgot to mention he had animal management skills too and in no time at all he had an angry, arrogant and fearless  sparrow hawk quite still in his cupped hands. What a fluke, the light was superb. Brenda and I took turns to naively snap away! The sparrow hawk glared at us with a look of distain.

At the end of this post I will help you to recall some of the fine pictures Harry gave me. All his pictures were taken in our own gardens.

The Eurasian Jay is widely distributed over Europe and Asia. It exists in very distinct local guises. I wonder how much hybridisation has contributed to this diversity?


Jays particularly like acorns and cache them for future occasions. I wonder what deception they use when hiding them? 

Jays have very variable cries which they use to confuse both predators and prey as well as their neighbours.

Look at those expressive eyes
Recalling Harry’s pictures


This post illustrates the fun Harry added to our lives

Thursday, 30 October 2014

My crocodile plant!

Three ceropegias

Apologies to google searchers. The crocodile plant is my own private name. Try aloe! 

 Ceropegia stapeliformis 


The correct common names of Ceropegia stapeliformis are ‘Serpent ceropegia’ and ‘Snake vine’.
Ceropegias are natives of Southern Africa and can grow as a prostrate plant, or hang, creep, climb, or twine.


Not twining together but hanging



Mad gardeners like me are fascinated by plants to which others won’t give house room. I only preserve my three different ceropegias by keeping them out of Brenda’s way.

Ceropegia woodii, the Rosary vine or String of hearts

I remember this hanging from a basket at the top of Askham Bryan College tropical house. It has rather nice markings, extreme pendulous habit together with curious hanging bead like tubers. At that time I never noticed its amazing tiny flowers.



Like many plants misdiagnosed as tropical, it is relatively hardy and all three of my different ceropegias have almost experienced frost for short periods when they have been dumped in disgrace in my unheated greenhouse. I now do find them somewhere above 5 centigrade to overwinter.

A none gardening friend asked me to recommend a house plant to hang in his kitchen window in an extremely confined space. In due course it hung like a curtain for many years thriving in the same three inch diameter pot.
When growth achieves excessive lengths of perhaps four of five feet it can be cut back to as far as you want to take it. You can easily rejuvenate a plant by cutting it right back and hurrying things along by inserting several un-rooted cuttings a few inches deep in the pot. It is extremely easy to propagate and grow!
Most trailing plants and other ceropegias will also clamber upwards and scramble if given the opportunity. Not this one, Ceropegia woodii does not know how! 

Ceropegia sandersonii, the Parachute Plant

I love its funny face flowers.

Like most ceropegias it is a succulent plant which can be left dry for long periods but most of the year this is not recommended when it should be watered as a normal house plant. Mine is flowering now and making new growth and like a Christmas cactus will be watered and fed at least up to the turn of the year.

Now in October and frosts threaten I have promised the lifeline of a place on a high shelf in our warm conservatory - Brenda insists I change the pot!

Ceropegia stapeliformis, my crocodile

My crocodile pretends to be a gnome 


It has escaped into the garden 

The plant featured today has had a checkered history. Purchased as a two inch unrooted piece from a cactus supplier, it was soon given thumbs down and banished from our warm conservatory. It sulked in our shady double glazed unheated enclosed porch and over the first winter barely survived. It did show signs of life the next summer and it started to scramble amongst my cacti on my greenhouse bench. It was returned for the winter to the dingy porch which by now had been fitted with a cheap thermostatically controlled electric heater, the kind used by householders to stop pipes freezing.


My ambition was to eventually see what I knew to be its magnificent flowers. This year revived broken off large pieces have thrived in my cold greenhouse and for the last couple of months have prolifically flowered. Forgive my indulgence in bringing them to you today!

The specific name of C.stapeliformis is derived from its similarity to stapelia, another succulent plant whose signature is a foetid smell.


Peculiar pollination

I have told you before it’s called drop pollination. And you still have not treated the aphids!

All the ceropegias featured today have peculiar flowers with long tubes to the base where anthers and stigma(s) await innocent insects. Ceropegias are mainly pollinated by dipterans (true flies). The size of the narrow entrance is the only control the flower has over which species of fly will be the unwitting pollinating agent. Foetid carrion smells are the attractant. Downward pointing hairs ensure visitors move in a single direction -down. The flies are trapped there for perhaps a complete day when as they try to escape become pasted with pollina. As the flower ages the hairs relax and the insect escapes. Enough flies get caught in another flower to achieve cross pollination. Ceropegia flowers possess inhibitory mechanisms that prevent self pollination.
I must confess I have never noticed any foul odour!

In our conservatory - I wonder if Brenda dislikes the flies more than the spiders!

 Cultural notes

My current neglect may correctly lead you to conclude that ceropegias are easy to grow. Their succulent nature suggests that they might like sharply drained potting compost but in fact any standard compost when watered as for normal houseplants will do. They do like some sunshine. An occasional liquid feed or light top dressing with NPK fertilizer as I do, will provide for their small nutritional requirement. If you forget to water even for several weeks, especially in winter, it will do little harm as many ceropegias in nature withstand a dry season. It is foolish however not to water when they are in active growth and in flower.

I shudder when I read in gardening encyclopedias precise temperature requirements and fancy compost formulations made up to special specifications. On reading such nonsense, often recycled from older encyclopedias by inexperienced researchers, I fear that new gardeners will be completely daunted or will spend money and time trying to find magic ingredients.
It’s a bit like my old lecture notes, transferred to the student notebook without going into my head or their own!



I have recently updated my two year old post on Salvia 'Black and Blue'. It contains another monster


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Control of woolly aphid

Scrubbing  Cathi’s trunk

Being Cathi’s head gardener it is quite a responsibility and I now find I have fallen down on the job!

My normal attitude to pest and disease in the ornamental garden is not to see pathogens and expect natural predators and parasites to keep them under control. Where possible I choose resistant varieties and grow my plants well and in doing so, do not predispose them to sickness. It does not always work out that way!


I noticed this disgusting mess on Cathi’s lovely pendulous crab apple. It must have taken woolly aphid several years to create this state of affairs. Cathi get a new gardener! She had not noticed either! None gardeners don’t see these things until it’s too late.
Very messy trunk  If you brush against it the crushed aphid stains are like cochineal! 
If not brought under control, woolly aphid brings death and destruction. It usually starts with mild stress on a susceptible variety. I remember a client whose apple tree had light infections on straggly weak shoots at the base of the trunk. The tree probably suffered from drought and the base was heavily shaded. I would annually prune the woolly aphid away and the trees continued to thrive. 

From such little beginnings, if no action is taken, over the years the infection spreads to eventually take over the tree. Each year any initial stress is magnified as the aphid sucks life from the plant. Infection accelerates and the tree becomes a write off and eventually dead! It is very difficult to spray a large tree and I know no suitable pesticides available to amateurs that will penetrate the woolly protection and control the affliction. Systemic insecticides do not work well in woody plants so no help there either.

Aphids covered with waxy protective wool. A problem on bark and buds  it can also fly to leaves and fruit.
My initial reaction was that we would lose Cathi’s tree. On closer inspection it appeared that infection was still mainly at the base of the trunk and any woolly aphid aphid higher up in the tree was at the tips of the branches. The next day I returned with my secateurs, loppers and saw. I also brought a scrubber and a secret chemical weapon!

Kitchen scrubber, sponge, soapy water and whimsical weapon.

Control
The basis of control is to cut out severely infected woody branches and scrub the bark clean. There is no guarantee that you will catch all the aphid and prevent its return but if you remove potential re-infection it will be relatively easy to manage next year. Although physical control might be sufficient a little chemical help does not go amiss. A nice soapy mixture will do. Soap will aid penetration of the waxy wool and gum up the insect’s spiracles. As I selected a kitchen scrubber and squirted hand soap into a bowl of water, my eye caught Brenda’s ‘Ecover’, the squirty sweet smelling liquid cleaner she uses to clean round the kitchen. I looked at its analysis, 10% alcohol - they will die die happy - <5% none ionic surfactants, citric and  lactic acid and perfume. It’s made with ‘natural materials, why it is virtually organic!
There was no way such a mixture would be harmful to bark and even if I were to spray the odd leaf they were already going senescent and it would do them no harm.
The work of pruning and scrubbing and squirting took no more than an hour. How I did it  in mid September is shown in the pictures.

Oh what a mess. If you carelessly brush past the trunk you cover yourself with sticky pink goo!
Woolly aphid stimulates the production of swellings and galls. My first job was to severely prune away a few lower branches, twigs and galls

I wonder if I did not clear this debris away whether the aphid would produce winged generations to fly back into the tree. Better take no chances. I think Cathi’s hens had a feast before I moved them!


Fortunately much of the canopy was not infected. 


The scale-like nymphs can crawl to fruits and leaves. 
On Cathi’s tree most of this type of infection was near the tips of the branches and the twigs could easily be pruned away.  In some cases on lower branches I gave them a squirt of Ecover and where accessible gently scrubbed them!


After scrubbing the abnormal galls stimulated to grow by the aphid can be clearly seen. I hesitated whether to completely cut them away or just leave them. I compromised and just cut out the big ones!



Now a nicer looking tree. The adjacent red weeping malus is completely uninfected, and is evidently more resistant.
The cuts will NOT be painted.  I grimace  at the very thought!


Five weeks later in October the crab apples are colouring up nicely and will last beyond Christmas

A half-hearted disclaimer
I do not consider the serendipity factor of my use of Ecover on a whim as essential to the successful control of woolly aphid! My thought was that it’s wetting power might aid penetration of the soap. I admit I got carried away merely squirting with alcohol rich ecover on a few of the higher infected branches. I made little attempt a few days later to find the aphids I sprayed. Although no aphid is apparent now, for all I know there may be some very hilarious aphids hicoughing away in happy hibernation. At least when I had finished my hands have never been cleaner! Perhaps there is scope for a project next year.

My holiday snaps
The very next day we went Italy to visit my son Tim who lives in Vico Equense on the Sorrento peninsula. What did we see but citrus trees infected with woolly aphid. Most of the orange tree roadside planting was in good shape but at the end  of the row it was so shady that every time I went back to take a picture, my camera flash activated. Such shade does not make for a happy tree, even shade tolerant citrus.

A holiday snap to text to my friends?


Obviously the aphid had been scrubbed away by Parks and Recreation. The galls are similar to those on the apple

A very unhappy tree in a dark garden in Sorrento

And a note about ipomoea

I recently wrote about the control of bindweed. I jested about killing bindweed in Folkestone and going home to my Morning Glory!

In Italy I was reminded what a weed ipomoea can be. Although only an annual see what it can do in a warm climate!

I found some real bindweed. In Italy in September it has almost died back from summer heat.  It would appear that it has a native predator and is not the same scourge as in England? 
I did not bother texting this picture home!

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