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The Grumpy Gardener - July

Hints & Tips With Mike Alexander
In his regular column for French News Online "Lifestyle" Section, professional gardener Mike Alexander, waxes lyrical as he contemplates his July garden.


For details of how to sow your own wildflower lawn - click here
Wildflower Lawn

Parsley and Wild Flowers
a Riotious Display

With all the rain we have been having I seem to have spent a lot of time recently wading through calf high grass behind an overworked mower and ducking for cover every time it showers.

One of my clients has a particularly large lawn and one portion of it is steeply sloped so cutting the grass there is a real sweat and rather risky. Some years ago after a minor injury I was unable to get on with the task when spring arrived, so I left that part to it's own devices. The result was quite startling. In no time at all the unmown lawn was covered in cow parsley and wild flowers and looked wonderful.

Nature Wins
After I had come to terms with how effortlessly nature could out-perform my ow creative abilities I took to leaving that part uncut until summer every year and the natural wild flowers have never failed to produce stunning results and with minimal maintenance other than to throw in an occasional handful of poppy seeds. Towards the beginning of summer I simply strim it all down and drop into my regular mowing routine, having saved myself considerable effort and benefited from a wonderful display of nature's best and no doubt encouraging some additional bio-diversity as well.

Effortless nature
You Could Just
Throw in a Handful of Poppy Seeds

Slug it Out
One genus of plant that is looking superb at the moment is the Hosta. These have really appreciated the regular deluges we've been having this year and are lush with beautiful foliage. As any gardener knows they are the meal of choice for slugs and snails which can if allowed to, shred them into a tattered mess overnight. However we can take precautions. I grow many of mine in pots that are easily protected from predators and can be stored in a nursery area when they start looking tatty toward the end of summer. Plants that I do put in beds I mulch very thoroughly with coir or coconut husk mulch which our slimey enemies find difficult to cross. If I have no other choice I will use slug pellets that contain iron phosphate and are less damaging to the environment than those containing mehaldehyde.

Hosta
Protect From Slugs
- mulch very thoroughly with coir or coconut husk -

Hostas are hardy herbacious perenials that are shade tolerant and need a deep rich soil with plenty of moisture. Most were introduced from Japan in the mid nineteenth century but large scale breeding, particularly in America, has produced thousands of varieties nearly all of which are grown predominantly for their foliage. Those with gold leaves are more tolerant of sun but I find that almost all cultivars will accept dappled shade well. In the spring they can be easily lifted and divided with a pair of garden forks while those left in the ground will take four to eight years to mature to their full glory. To protect them over winter I simply bury them beneath a few inches of leaf mould. Just remember to guard them from those snails!!

Links
Wildflower Lawn - how to sow your own
www.french-news-online.com

Previously - click an image below
To read February's gardening tips article - click this image
Is a world without bees possible? Read about this crisis that will affect us all - click here
Prune for Results
A World Without Bees?
What you should have done in January!
Prune your roses - click here
Fruit Tree Pruning
Wars of the Roses
Grumpy Gardener April - It's War Out There. Click to view
Click to read this article
Prune When Finished
Herald of Spring...
click to read Grumpy's july  tips
You've got to be quick!
Un-thirsty Lavender
To read this August 2011 article - click here
To read this August 2011 article - click here
Grasp the Nettle
Star Jasmine - Madrid
To read this August 2011 article - click here
To read this August 2011 article - click here
Jihad - on Bunnies Ears
Autumn Arrives
Designer chic or neccessity? - click here for full story
To read this article - click here
Designer Chic?
Gravity - not to be ignored!
If winter comes, can Spring be far behind? Grumpy contemplates the winter garden
If winter comes, can Spring be far behind? Grumpy contemplates the winter garden
If Winter Comes....
Hottest chilli in the world
Dogs and Daffodils... full story - click this image
The iris and Madame la Guillotine... full story - click this image
Dog Days...
Fleur de Lys
Hedge You Bets - how do YOU like your hedges... full story - click this image
To read a previous article
- click an image -
Hedge Your Bets
www.french-news-online.com

Grumpy Gardener
Our Grumpy Gardener has been gardening professionally in France for more years than he cares to remember and before that in Africa and the UK. Today he happily shares his expertise with French News Online readers. Your gardening questions are welcome and while they may not be individually answered, they may form the basis of future monthly columns.

Article: Mike Alexander
grumpygardener@french-news-online.com
July 2012

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To see this delicious recipe from Vivienne Bolton - click here
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