Tag Archive: lime


 

Most plants will grow in alkaline soil, but these are particularly tolerant of high levels of alkalinity (lime).

Old School Gardener

The Lime Walk at Arley Hall, Cheshire, an example of pleaching
The Lime Walk at Arley Hall, Cheshire, an example of pleaching

It’s that time of year when the summer growth of hedges – at least those that need to be kept in trim- is being cut back. Joe Sloley from Hintlesham has an interesting opportunity with one of his hedges:

‘I have a row of overgrown lime trees which originally formed a screen and which I want to cut back and pleach. Are limes suitable for this kind of training and what are the details of the method?’

Pleaching or plashing (an early synonym) was common in gardens from late medieval times to the early eighteenth century. It means the interweaving of growing branches of trees and shrubs to form a hedge, living fence or arbour which provides a strong barrier, shaded paths or garden features.  The word ‘plexus’ derives from the same Latin root word ‘plecto’, meaning to weave or twist together. This craft had originally been developed by European farmers who used it to make their hedgerows more secure.

 "Walking in a thick pleached alley in mine orchard" - William Shakespeare, 'Much Ado About Nothing'

Pleached Trees and an underlying Yew hedge ay Dipley Mill, Hampshire, via  Angus Kirk

Pleached Trees and an underlying Yew hedge ay Dipley Mill, Hampshire, via
Angus Kirk

Today the term tends to be used to refer to what might be called the process of creating a ‘hedge on stilts’ where (usually smooth-barked) trees have their lower side growth removed and the higher growth is pruned and trained to form a continuous, elevated hedge.

Limes can certainly be pleached: they have pliable growth, and the shoots rapidly grow long enough to be woven in and out. Once the trees have been cut back to the height you require, the lower part of the trunks should be cleared of side growths. Then attach horizontal canes or wires to the trunks and across the gaps between the trees. Allow new shoots to grow out sideways; any which grow forwards or backwards should be pruned out completely. The side shoots are tied to the canes/ wires and when plentiful enough are interwoven with one another. As the shoots mature into branches, the canes or wires can be dispensed with and new growth trained amongst the old.

Pleaching in process

Pleaching in process

Tilia (lime) is the most commonly used tree for pleached walks; usually the red-twigged lime (Tilia platyphyllos ‘Rubra’).  Ash, beech, chestnut, hornbeam and plane can also be pleached, as can apples and pears. These can often be obtained ready trained.

Laburnum and Wisteria are favoured for pleached arbours and covered walks, especially tunnels, which show off the attractive flowers perfectly.  Use Wisteria grown from cuttings or raised by grafting, as it will flower more reliably and uniformly than seed-raised plants, and Laburnum x watereri ‘Vossii’ is a better choice than seed-raised L. anagyroides.

If you want to start a pleached hedge, select young, whippy plants that are more easily trained. Plant these out in winter and during the early years also prune in the winter when the plants are leafless and dormant. Train and tie new shoots in over the summer. Once pleached trees have reached their full extent, prune in the summer, pruning to shape the new growth and reduce the tree’s vigour.

Here’s a fascinating example of how pleaching could be used to ‘grow homes’!

fab-tree-hab

Further information:

Wikipedia

RHS guide to pleaching

Pleaching- the art of taming nature by Jardin Design

See through boundaries

Healthy Hedges with Crisp Edges

Old School Gardener

WP_20140322_056

Last weekend, whilst staying in Chester, we took a little trip out to Wales, specifically to the elegant house and gardens at Erdigg, near Wrexham. It was well worth the effort as we found a beautiful formal garden stemming from the 18th  century and showing evidence of later period garden design fashions.

Erddig was owned by the Yorke family for 240 years. Each of them was called either Simon or Philip. The first Simon Yorke inherited the house in 1733 from his uncle, John Meller. Erddig’s garden was begun in 1685. Each of Erddig’s owners has altered and added to it, but each has respected their predessors work. Today you can still see evidence of the gardens of the past. Erddig’s walled garden is one of the most important surviving 18th century formal gardens in Britain.

The gardens contain rare fruit trees, a canal, a pond, a Victorian era  parterre and are home to the NCCPG  National Plant Collection of Hedera (ivy). The arrangement of alcoves in the yew hedges in the formal gardens may be a form of bee bole – a cavity or alcove in a wall or a separate free-standing structure set against a wall (the Scots word ‘bole’ means a recess in a wall). A skep is placed inside the bee bole. Before the development of modern bee hives, bee boles were a practical way of keeping bees in some parts of Britain, although most beekeepers kept their skeps in the open covered by, for example, old pots, or sacking. The bee bole helped to keep the wind and rain away from the skep and the bees living inside.

Further information:

National Trust Website

Wikipedia

Old School Gardener

plum

‘We have two plum trees that both blossom, but a lot of the fruit drop before they are fully formed – why is this?’

So ask a Mr. and Mrs. Howard Hughes from Surbiton, Surrey.

Well, the likely reason is a lack of calcium, as this is vital when the stones are being formed. Many sandy soils are low in Calcium, so if you have this sort of soil, this might explain the problem. If there is insufficient Calcium to go round, some fruit will drop off before they have fully formed. To remedy this try a dressing of Lime over the whole area during the winter and then in the spring a mulch around the trees with well-rotted manure or compost should also help.

Whilst we’re dealing with plums another problem you might come across is the leaves developing a silvery sheen and the tree looking sick. This is most probably a sign of ‘silver leaf’ – a disease which requires all of the infected and dead wood to be burned before the middle of July. If you accidentally cut into healthy wood, cover the cut with a wound sealant.  To improve the general health of the tree apply a general fertiliser such as Fish, Blood and Bone in February /March.

Silver Leaf- infected leaves (left) compared to healthy

Silver Leaf- infected leaves (left) compared to healthy

Old School Gardener

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Looking good- Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum)

Looking good in Old School Garden at present – Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum)

 Planning your crops- to rotate or not to rotate…

Well, I guess that I’m sold on the benefits from rotation. Basically, you reduce the chances of persistent pests and diseases building up (which affect a particular plant or group of plants) and you manage the demands placed on the soil from different crops (and in the case of peas and beans actually stand to replenish, or if not that, then at least not deplete the store of Nitrogen).

Fine in theory, but it’s posed a real challenge to me in planning my crops in the kitchen garden. I’ve survived to date (just) with hasty diagrams on odd scraps of paper and scribbled ideas about what to grow where. To be quite honest, I’ve become muddled about what was previously grown in the different beds, what needs to follow what and whether I should manure, fertilise and/or add lime….sound familiar?  With just the two of us at home to cater for it’s also been a bit difficult avoiding growing either too much or too little of the right things (generally the former).

Part of the problem is that my Kitchen Garden is divided up into a number of raised beds of different sizes and aspects, so it’s a challenge fitting things into the spaces available. I also feel that it’s important to max the growing potential by putting in follow-on crops once early harvests of things like Broad Beans, onions and early potatoes have been ‘garnered in’.

Then there’s the issue of focusing on what we like to eat (sounds simple, eh?). Over recent years we’ve had mixed results:

  • some rather exotic looking French Beans which turned out a pretty yellow on the plant and then went a sort of beige when cooked- not inviting,
  • peas -they seem to involve an awful lot of trouble for not much reward
  • main crop potatoes– they take up a lot of ground and don’t taste that different from a large bag bought for a fiver…

So we’ve started to focus on the crops we like (with a bit of experimenting), things that can be expensive to buy, freezables for the winter months (Courgettes come to mind) and some particular varieties that ‘float our boat’- Mangetout for instance in preference to those whopper peas that pigeons seem to rather enjoy!

So yesterday (after pruning the apple trees), I spent a couple of hours drawing up a proper diagram of the plot, tried to think through what could go where (once I’ve taken permanent crops like fruit, Rhubarb and Asparagus out of the equation)- and also whether there’s potential for second crops in some areas, too.

I’ve tried to follow the rules on rotation (brassicas following legumes, potatoes following brassicas and onions and roots following potatoes), but I must admit it’s a bit hit and miss, taking all of the other variables into account! What’s your experience and do you have any sure- fire tips to help me?

At last, a cunning plan for food growing in 2013! (I hope)

(click on the image to enlarge and see a panorama video of the garden as it looks today at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZ20lLrTLIc&feature=youtube_gdata_player)

kitchen gdn layout

P.S.  A note on manure:  if you can get some well rotted animal manure it could be good to either dig it into your beds or just lay some on top for the worms to incorporate into the soil. I’d be careful about putting it down everywhere though, as root crops like carrots and parsnips don’t like freshly manured ground (they tend to fork and not grow well in the heavier conditions that are created). However, ‘hungry’ cops like potatoes, brassicas (cabbages, calabrese, cauliflower, broccoli), courgettes, squashes and legumes (peas, beans) would all benefit from some, as would a greenhouse if you’re planning to grow tomatoes. Ideally it needs to be obtained and placed or dug in in the next few weeks in order for the weather to break it down and help to incorporate it into the soil.

Further information: Vegetable Gardening for Beginners: The Complete Guide

Quizzicals: answers to the last two…

  • Private part of a old crooner Periwinkle
  • The organ that enables you to say ‘2 plus 2 = 4’Adder’s Tongue

and just for fun two more ‘gardening ditties’:

‘Pepper’s got a brand new bag’

‘Spice Oddity’ (topical huh?- thanks Les)

Old School Gardener

A view of the Kitchen Garden looking west- east (left to right on the diagram)

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Lydia Rae Bush Poetry

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