All posts by Jackie Elwin

House plants and cuttings

I never think a house can feel like a home without house plants. The rooms tend to look bare without fresh  living foliage.  They can be incorporated into a room design or just dotted about as you please, as long as they have sufficient light and the room stays at a  temperature that suits the plant.  There is no point trying to grow a fern that requires a moist environment in a hot, dry centrally heated room as it just won’t be happy.  I have plants in every room of the house but I sometimes have to swap them around  rooms as the seasons change depending on their individual likes.  As they grow larger they may need re-potting or even split and re-potted.  This is a great opportunity to make new plants to give away to friends and family or to charities to sell on.  I take lots of cuttings from large plants, split the peace lilies many times to make new plants and pot-on the chicks from the sempervivums to sell at Duddingston Kirk Plant Sale.  I have been given a few plants (that have needed a bit of TLC) recently from friends and I am waiting to see if they come through or not.  Steph gave me an Easter cactus that was very old and had split leaves dead leaves,old woody leaves etc so I gave that a good trim and potted up the cuttings.  I don’t have a before photo but I did take a snap after I had given it a haircut.

Steph’s Easter cactus after it’s trim
Easter cactus in bud
Steph’s Easter cactus in bud

Steph also gave me palm which had been very neglected so I  trimmed off the dead leaves and re-potted it and it is looking much better.

Steph's palm before a trim
Steph’s palm before
Steph's palm after a trim
Steph’s palm after

I have been given a few plants of Kate’s (who passed away recently) and it was quite a difficult decision to make, whether or not to alter anything about them or leave them as they were.  The Echeveria hybrid was looking very leggy and distressed so I cut the heads off it and a few single leaves too.  These were left to dry out until the ends calloused over, then were planted in a free draining compost mix.  I have left the rooted plant stumps in the  hope that it may get new growth from the stumps bottom part.  The leggy bit in the middle I have just placed on compost to see if it will root from the stem (just an experiment).  Hopefully one of these will take and I can keep it going.  She also had a Christmas cactus which was growing mainly in one direction so I trimmed off a  few bits and left them to dry for a few days and potted then up, and hopefully I can get some new plants from it.  Kate’s Petrocosmia had been very over-watered so I re-potted that and it is trying to dry out, I took some damaged leaves off it but I don’t know if it will survive.  I will take a photo if it survives.  I really hope I can keep them all alive for Kate’s memory.

Kate's Echevaria before a trim
Kate’s Echevaria hybrid before
Kate's Echevaria hybrid stumps after being chopped
Kate’s Echevaria hybrid stumps
Kate's Echevaria small head potted up
Kate’s Echevaria hybrid small head potted-up
Kate's Echevaria large head potted up
Kate’s Echevaria hybrid large head potted-up
Kate's Christmas cactus trimmed
Kate’s Christmas cactus trimmed
Kate's Petrocosmia begonifolia before
Kate’s Petrocosmia begonifolia before

I am loving me Aeonium Voodoo just now as the colours are just fantastic!  The top of the stem is bright green and these leaves go such a deep, rich, burgundy which contrast beautifully with the lime centre. I don’t know when I should take the head off to replant  – I may leave it another year or so.

Aeonium Voodoo head in summer colours deep burgundy
Aeonium Voodoo head
Aeonium Voodoo plant
Aeonium Voodoo plant
Aeonium Voodoo under leaves
Aeonium Voodoo under leaves
Aeonium Voodoo stem and leaf joints vivid colours
Aeonium Voodoo stem with leaf joints

And recently purchased are these fabulous living stones: Lithops.  They can be tricky to grow so I am going to have to be very careful with my watering of them.  I have potted them up in a very gritty, free draining compost and have given them one watering so far.  Fingers crossed I can keep them alive.

Lithops different colours

I do have a few air plants that I bought in 2020 but so far they have not flowered for me.  As soon as they I will post a picture.

Just a few of the cuttings that will be on sale at Duddingston Kirk Garden Club plant sale on Saturday.


Mid April in the garden

Strange weather again, one minute we are basking in warm sunshine, the next we are down to freezing.  I have been trying to harden off some cuttings but don’t really want to put them out in this icy wind just in case they get a shock so they are staying undercover for a few days until it warms a little.  Of course I just ordered the vine weevil nematodes the other day, but now I will have to keep them in the fridge until we have had a spell of rain and it warms a bit. You can’t apply them to dry soil as they need moisture to move around in the soil and find the weevil grub.  Most of the narcissi did well this year, except the Segovia and Ice wing.  Only 3 Segovia came up and two of those had their flowers eaten before they opened (exactly the same as last year).  No Ice wing came up at all.  The good news is that the narcissi Actaea poeticus did really well.  Last year most of them were eaten by snails or slugs either before they flowered or once they flowered.  They look great beside the berberis as the colours of the eye of the narcicci are almost the same as the berberis flowers. The tulips Mystic Van Eijk are still looking good as are the Erythroniums.  The cherry blossom have just gone over now and will soon be blown away in the wind.  It is too cold for me outside so I will concentrate on my indoor plants this week.

view of the garden from the patio April 2023
View from the patio April 2023
View of the stumpery bed in April 2023
Stumpery bed April 2023
View of the stumpery April 2023
Stumpery April 2023
View of the raised bed April 2023
Raised bed April 2023
orangey yellow Berberis alonside Narcissi Actaea Poeticus
Berberis and Narcissi Actaea Poeticus

Long handled tool for wheelchair gardening.

 Long handled tools – are they worth it?  There are so many tools to choose from and it mainly comes down to individual preference.   You can get long handled adult tools, children’s tools, telescopic handled, adjustable handled, or even no handled – just tool heads only.  I bought a load of different long handled tools thinking they would help me reach further into the garden to work, however, some of them were just plain useless.  Some of the children’s tools were robustly made and do actually help when using the rake, hoe, and little fork.  The spade was more difficult to use.  I could use them all in the shallow border but not so much in the deeper border.  The heads are all small  so jobs like raking could take longer than if you used a normal sized rake.  The weight of the children’s tools were not too bad but as they had wooden handles they do have some weight in them.  I still found digging the most difficult job as it is much easier being above the tool and using your weight to push down (or your foot if you can) which would often mean getting right into the flower bed.  This is ok when planting out a new bed but not when it is an established bed.  The lengths of the handles of the children’s tools are between 81cm and 98cm long.

The tools on the right of the photo are the ones I use all the time: the Draper long handled tools and an oscillating hoe.  The Draper long handled fork and trowel are great because they are stainless steel and are quite light and easy to use.  I like the T shaped handle as I can hook the handle over my shoulder and have the tool part resting between my knees so I can carry them up and down the ramp easily.  The T handle also  means I can pull the tool from the earth easily plus it gives you something to push on.  The handle lengths of the Draper tools are around 72cm.

Th oscillating hoe came as just the head only.  Harry attached it to an old broom handle (86cm long).  I find that I can push and pull it fairly easily.  It is most useful when working between rows of plants. You could always just shorten any full length garden too handles that are the broom handle type.

You can get tools that are classed as midi-handled which would be around 60cm long.   Maybe they would be just right for using in a raised bed from a wheelchair.

long handled hardening tools
My long handled tools

 You can get a telescopic handle that fits onto a variety of tool heads.  This one I bought years ago and I find that I really only use the small spring rake head.  What I find very annoying with this particular telescopic mechanism is that it doesn’t stay put while you are working with the tool.  You twist the handle the pull it out to the length you require the twist it to lock it in place.  It just untwists while you work.  Also on mine the middle telescopic part has stuck.  It is great in theory but not great in practice.  It is quite light to use and should go from 55cm – 120cm and I use it mainly to gently scrape dead leaves and debris from plants.

multi head tools with telescopic handle
Telescopic multi-head tool

The adjustable handled net (PondXpert) that I have for my pond is great as the mechanism is at the head end so when you screw unscrew it and pull it to the length you require, then screw it back tight, it stays fixed in position and won’t budge until you unscrew it again.  I keep is shorter when scooping leaves or duck weed from the front of the pond and longer when I need to reach the back of the pond.  The longer you have the tool, the more strain it puts on you hands and wrists (unless you can support it with your other hand).  This one extends to 1.8M and you can get different sizes and shapes of net that fit the handle. Ideally I would like to use it with some kind of arm support.  I know you can get some long handled tools that you can use a support cuff with (PETA Easy-grip tools and arm support cuff) although I have never tried these and some look very awkward to use.

adjustable handle for pond net
Adjustable handled small pond net

Colour in the garden mid March.

 Again, I haven’t done much in the garden at all due to medial epicondilitis and biceps tendinitis in the right arm, triceps/deltoid pain, acromioclavicular joint pain in the left arm, and shoulder and neck pain from osteoarthritis. No fun at all, but now things are a little better I can start to move about more as long as I don’t overdo things.  I am  getting back out into the garden again to see what I have been missing.  The flowers that are going over now are: snowdrops, crocus and small iris (Katherine’s gold).  The witch hazel was looking great in January with it’s lovely deep orangey, spidery scented flowers but they have gone over now.   The indoor plants that are still in flower are the fabulous cyclamen (although they will soon be over so I will start to dry them out for their summer rest period), peace lily, and the trillium. The trillium ought to be in the stumpery area of the back garden but the slugs kept getting them so they are in a pot in the conservatory for now.  I took a few cuttings from a very old Easter cactus that I rescued from a friend and they have tiny buds on. I did find a couple of leaves on them which were stuck together and when I pulled them apart I found a small green caterpillar inside some woven silk threads. It could be a Tortrix moth (either Carnation tortrix – Cacoecimorpha pronubana, or the light brown apple tortrix moth – Epiphyas postvittana).  I don’t know if it was already on the plant when I got it or not.  I had thought the small eaten areas on the leaves had been slug damage.

In flower now are: mahonia, hellebores (some lovely large clumps and some rather spindly specimens), large daffodils, tiny tete-a-tete narcissus, pink heather, yellow epimedium, winter honeysuckle, white periwinkle, rosemary, chionadoxa, primrose, erythronium snowflake, pulmonaria, the pink corydalis and a few grape hyacinths (that I keep forgetting are there). The hazel is monoecious which means they have male and female flowers on the same plant.  The male and female flowers of the tortured hazel look so different to each other – the male flowers are the lovely yellow catkins that dangle and are blown about in the wind so the pollen lands on the tiny red female flowers.  However they can’t be self pollinated, they must be pollinated by another hazel.  There are only a few flowers on the Pieris so maybe there has been some frost damage – we shall see if we get more later.

It was March 13th when we spotted the first frog spawn in the pond.  It was difficult to count the individual clump but I would guess that there are at least 5 clumps, so we have at least 5 female frogs about.  We did find a couple of dead frogs in the pond after winter but I have no idea what sex they were.

The crab apple that we planted last autumn has survived the winter and has tiny buds on so I am hopeful that we get some blossom when the weather warms up a little.  At the moment it is sunshine and showers with a drop in temperature due at the weekend.  We have put up blinds in the conservatory on the left side only as this is the direction that it gets the sun from.  We will wait and see if that is enough shading for the plants but we may have to get a couple on the ceiling too.  It is may favourite place to be in when the sun shines just now.

On a very sad note: Kate Dick, our Duddingston Kirk Garden Club president has passed away after a short illness.  She will be sadly missed by us all at the club.  RIP Kate.

witch hazel shrub Diane
Hamamelis intermedia ‘Diane’
witch hazel Diane orangey red spidery flowers
Hamamelis intermedia ‘Diane’ flowers
Berberis flowers about to open
Berberis x lologensis ‘Apricot Queen’
winter honeysuckle flowers
Lonicera fragrantissima
Pieris white flowers
Pieris japonica ‘Forest flame’
corkskrew hazel yellow male katkins
Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’
male yellow catkins and tiny red female flowers of hazel
Corylus male and female flowers
yellow primula flowers
Primula vulgaris
Hellebore white double flowers with purple spots
Hellebore double white with purple spots
single white flowers of hellebore
Hellebore single, white
single purple flowers on hellebore
Hellebore single, purple
single dark purple hellebore flowers
Hellebore single, dark purple
frilly pink double hellebore flowers
Hellebore  double, Picotee
erythronium white flowes
Erythronium ‘Snowflake’
frog spawn in garden pond
Frog spawn March 13th 2023
tortrix moth larva in silk threads on leaf
Tortrix moth larva on Easter cactus

Baltic Edinburgh in December 2022

 Wow it has been absolutely Baltic so far this December!   We didn’t do much in the garden over November as I managed to hurt my right elbow (medial epicondylitis) and on account of being paraplegic having to do many transfers, this meant that I over-used my left arm when compensating for my sore elbow, so now have painful left triceps and shoulder.  Harry tweaked his back, and Debs (my garden help lady who comes for 1½ hours per week) also tweaked her back.  We did however manage to plant a tree during national tree week. That is the Royal ‘we’ – Harry did the work while I supervised.  It is a Malus sylvestris Evereste half-standard.  Hopefully if it survives being planted then immediately getting snowed on and plummeted down to -8°C, it should have lovely blossom in the spring, followed by green foliage in the summer and beautiful autumnal foliage in the autumn with crab apples fruits.  This tree should hold onto it’s fruit throughout winter.

We live in an old bungalow which we have tried to draught-proof and had insulating throughout, but it still remains a very chilly house.  At the moment in this Baltic cold spell being around -3°C and under we are really struggling to keep the place warm.  The heating goes on for a few hours in the morning and the same at night and it is costing us around £20 per day and we are still not warm enough.  If we have to put the heating on all day this will easily go to £35 or more per day!  I have an oil heater on in the craft room and the room barely gets to 14°C so I am typing this trying to keep warm with scarf and fingerless gloves, hot-water bottle and a lap blanket.  I am wearing at least 3 layers of clothing and am still shivering.  I feel the cold terribly and I know part of it is from having poor blood circulation and lack of muscle mass.  I also have Sjogrens syndrome which can cause reynaud’s disease where your hands and feet have much reduced blood flow and they turn yellow then blue, and when the blood does finally return to them they are very painful.  It isn’t just the humans feeling the cold but even the house plants are suffering.  So this year I have had to move some plants from the conservatory as it is too cold for them.  Normally I would keep the conservatory just above freezing (around 5°C)
using a greenhouse fan heater.  This year however with the price hikes
and cost of living being so high I dare not put on the fan heater.  Therefore I am not having a nice Christmas display, but instead am having to cover the remaining plants with fleece and hope for the best.  In the coldest of nights we have succumbed to putting a small oil filled radiator on low just to.keep the place form freezing,  Harry and I are just getting over having a cold which was absolutely miserable especially when you just can’t keep warm.  I would have loved to go out and get take some beautiful crisp, frosty photographs but all I could manage was one frosty rose on my way to feed the birds.  If it is like this now and it is only December, then I do wonder what it is going to be like come February when we normally get hit with the real icy cold and snowy weather.

crab apple tree newly planted
Malus sylverstris Evereste

frosted rose image
Frosted Rose

snowy view from the patio
View from the patio

fleece over some plants in the conservatory
Fleece keeping some plants warm in conservatory

The conservatory upgrade.

 This month it was all about giving the conservatory some TLC.  It is around 30 years old and the areas of rotten wood were just kept patched up.  This can only work for so many years and it was in desperate need of ripping out.  We kept the wall so the footprint is exactly the same but we went for white UPVC instead of wood.  Some problems faced by someone in a wheelchair at doorways are: the width of the door, how to open and close the door easily, and whether or not there are thresholds to negotiate.  As the old wooden doors kept sticking so much when it rained I couldn’t open or close the doors easily (sometimes not at all!).  The new doors are emergency exit type doors where you can either twist the knob, or push the bar to open.  They are so much easier to use.  However – they come with quite a large threshold attached.  It is extremely difficult to take a cup of tea outside onto the patio while you are pushing a wheelchair and bunny-hopping over a threshold.  Also I often have newly potted up plants on a tray to take to the patio and bunny-hopping over a threshold would mean plants and compost everywhere. The thresholds on the doors are actually quite easily removed so although we now have a draught under the doors and the gap lets in rain, I can get through all the doorways easily.  At the moment we can just use draught-excluders but I am sure we will find the correct brush attachments that would be better.  They will probably still let in rain which isn’t that bad as the patio and conservatory floor are made of the same slabs.  I often throw water over the conservatory slabs in hot weather to condense and slightly the cool the area.  It was meant to take just one week to complete and have a fully glass roof, unfortunately there were a few mistakes made at the roofers end which led to  the decision to partly tile the roof and it has taken weeks longer to complete partly due to the awful weather during October.  All the plants that belonged in the conservatory had to be temporarily  homed on the dining table, craft table, coffee table, filing cabinet and patio bench while this was taking place.  It will be painted when we finally get round to redecorating the sitting room.  We will also need to get some blinds as next door to us  are doing some building work and have taken out the large magnolia tree and a silver birch.  These trees used shade the left side of the conservatory (which got the most sun) but now there is nothing to shade the plants on that side.

old conservatory walls and door garage side
Old conservatory garage side

old conservatory walls siting room side
Old conservatory sitting room side

new conservatory garage side
New conservatory garage side

new conservatory walls and roof sitting room side
New conservatory sitting room side
magnolia and silver birch trees casting shade over conservatory
Magnolia and silver birch trees casting shade

magnolia and silver birch trees removed now no shade
Magnolia and silver birch removed

I haven’t taken many garden photographs during September and October but there is still a lot of colour about.  Still in flower are the nepeta, Japanese anemones, salvia Amistad,verbena, persicaria, miscanthus (which is almost the same colour as the acer palmatum), white foxgloves, fuschia and erigeron.  There are a few sporadic flowers on the, hellebores, rose, cirsium rivale, astrantias and weigela.  I had planned on getting a photo of the witch hazel foliage which was spectacular this year with it’s bright oranges but by the time I got out there, they had already fallen.  The Japanese anemones went a bit bonkers this year so some will have to be removed.  The purple acer will soon turn a spectacular bright red colour very soon and the rowan has started it’s colour changes now.  It has very few berries this year despite many flowers – I think the birds have eaten the flowers before they had a chance to turn into berries (do birds eat flowers?).

Japanese anemones going berserk
Japanese anemones Mont rose (front) and Whirlwind (back)

russet coloured fallen witch hazel leaves
Fallen witch hazel leaves

We did sort out a few wee jobs such as: cutting back the tortured hazel to let more light around underneath and to the other side of the bed.  We also dug out some of the cyclamen that were struggling around one of the curling stones as there wasn’t enough space for them to expand their tuber. In their place is now some mossy saxifrage.  We bought a compost bin to put behind the back wall which will be a hot compost bin and  we will be trying to use a lot of the fallen leaves to make  leaf-mould in cold compost bags. I would love to encourage hedgehogs into the garden but as our garden has walls around the back we have had to make the space under the gates large enough for creatures to get under and we have made a hole in the bottom of the fence out the back big enough for hedgehogs to get through but not our dog.  There is now a little hedgehog house behind the wall too.

I am still making plans for the front garden.  So far it means taking out a few more slabs in the middle and possibly beside the ramp.  Ripping out the white periwinkle that got a bit scorched in the summer heat, and digging up some of the yellow epimedium.  I don’t know where to re-site the large yellow iris.  I love it in flower but it doesn’t look great for the rest of the time.  My bulbs are all potted up now (except for a few tulips) so I have no more clay pots left.  Must ask Santa for some new ones.   Now to start looking at the flower catalogues for ideas for next year!

In flower mid August

There are still plenty of flowers for the pollinators to make use of in mid August: cyclamen are beginning to flower just before their foliage comes up, persicaria, Japanese anemone, nepeta, erigeron, plox, selinum, potentilla, heuchera, tierella, geum, salvia, sweet peas, roses, verbena, lamium, wooly rock jasmine, some hellebores, some verbascum, honey suckle, fennel and oregano all still going.  Just going over now are the  purple loosestrife, pond lily and pickerel weed.  There are a few sporadic flowers on the astrantia and hardy geraniums and campanula.  Some shrubs and small trees think that autumn has come early and are colouring up and leaves are falling so it is time to get the pond net out to start clearing the fallen leaves off the surface.  The rhododendron still looks poorly. Everything needs a good drink but we are still just getting the odd small shower that is hardly getting very deep so I am still having to water certain plants.  The white phlox is looking great but the label says Phlox paniculata ‘ice cream’  but when I googled it they should be pinkish flowers or white flowers with pink centres.  This may have been wrongly labelled and could be ‘White admiral’ instead.

I have moved the succulents that were in the conservatory onto the bench now as we did have a start date for getting the conservatory fixed in August.  That has now changed  to September so I have just left them on the old bench for now.

The front garden is not looking great just now as the perriwinkle is all dried and brown and there is nothing in flower except the weeds.  The mahonia and epimediums are looking ok as is the hedge so there is still some greenery.  The Virginia creeper is doing well so it should colour up well in autumn.  I would like to get more lavender and a few other drought resistant flowering plants out in the front garden for next year.

While I am out in the morning doing the watering I usually come across some bug or other.  I was watching a wasp trying to get a grip of a dried mealworm that had fallen from the bird food.  It had a real wrestle with it but gave up.  I try to look up the Latin names of the beasties I find but they can be hard to identify so I have no idea if they are what I think they are.

brown forest shield bug
Pentatoma rufipes (Forest shield bug)
small wasp trying to get a hold of 1/2 dried mealworm
wasp wrestling 1/2 dried mealworm
Tachina fera flies mating on selinum plant
Tachina fera flies mating on selinum
Athalia rosae turnip sawfly on miscanthus leaf
Athalia rosae (turnip sawfly)
trailing babies breath and unknown rose in pots
Babies breath and unknown  rose
Phlox paniculata White admiral perhaps
Phlox paniculata White admiral?
Honesty seed heads backlit
Honesty seed heads backlit
flowers in pots on the patio August 2022
Pots on the patio August 2022
Succulents on the old bench
Succulents on the old bench
View from the patio August 2022
From the patio August 2022

Excuse the photo of the view from the patio – yes it has the bottom of the bird feeder on it!  You can see how the deep shade creeps up the garden from the back due to the trees in the golf course.  By 16:00 most of the garden and part of the patio is in deep shade.  We used to be able to have BBQs in the afternoon in the summer sunshine, and have our dinner out on the patio at 18:30 but sadly not any more.  This year however, the shade has been a blessing in during the heat waves.

Slug and snail resistant plants.

 Apparently we are not supposed to think of slugs and snails as pests in our garden any more, however, I do think that they can cause so much damage to certain plants that I consider them a bit of a pest in my own garden.  Over the years I have tried to only plant slug resistant plants so that I am not constantly being disappointed at the total decimation of my newly acquired plants.  Plants cost a lot of money and I take umbrage at  them being slug food.  I don’t mind the small grey ones which can take the odd nibble or two out of my primulas but it is the huge Arion slugs that can destroy a whole plant in one evening.  I know that some slugs are the gardeners friend, such as the green or yellow cellar slug that will eat algae and mould,  and the leopard slug that will feed on fungi and rotting vegetation and other slugs. I have tried many methods to control the numbers such as deterrents and barriers like surrounding susceptible plants with a variety of materials such as: crushed egg shells, or wool (or wool pellets), or grit, or sand, or coffee grounds, or bran.  None of these worked.   The bran is meant to work by the slugs gorging themselves on it and they end up bloated.  They are slow to go back into cover so are picked off by predators – so they say (but I haven’t tried this method).  I have seen the slugs move across all sorts of surfaces and onto the plant.  I have seen slugs moving across a very prickly cactus plant in the conservatory, and up very prickly stems of the moss roses in the stumpery.   The sand just gets bounced away with heavy rain, and I have heard that the slugs just produce more slime in order to combat a surface they don’t find comfortable.  I did think that the sand would work as it would stick to their slimy bodies but alas they didn’t care.  I have tried making up a strong garlic solution to drench the plants as many people find that it works as a deterrent, but it certainly didn’t work on the new shoots of Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ in the spring, but as the plants grew a bit the leaves became a little less palatable to them.  You do have to re-apply after rain as it washes off.  I have tried Vaseline on the rims of pots and also up the stalks and around flower bud of narcissi but somehow the slugs and snails still managed to get passed the sticky surface.  The copper tape method can work but might only work if you put enough tape around the pot.  I just put one inch of copper tape around a large pot and the slug can be seen arching it’s body over the band of tape to reach further up and over.  Once I put about 6 inches of tape around the pot the plant has managed to grow on and has had no further damage.  This isn’t nice to look at and you have to keep the pot away from any other surface or plant in case the culprit can just stretch across the gap or get a bridge from a leaf of another close by plant.  If I had put the tape around the rim it may have helped, but they leaves could overlap the pot edge so the slug would still have been able to get into the plant.

slug damaging astrantia in a pot
Slug in astrantia pot

large slug avoiding copper tape around a plant pot
slug avoiding copper tape
astrantia regrowth in pot with more copper tape around it to about 6 inches deep
astrantia regrowth in pot with more copper tape

Now and again I have used pellets and also nematodes.  I am trying to avoid these as they not only kill the bad slugs but they also kill the good ones.  The nematodes are at least environmentally friendly but are a pain to use as you have to have various jugs and buckets to get the correct amount of water to mix the nematode mixture in, the soil has to be a certain temperature and must be fairly wet too.  The nematodes are only active for around six weeks and I am not sure if they actually kill snails.  They are also quite expensive especially if you have a large garden.  Slug pellets, even if they say they are organic, can  possibly affect other creatures if they are consumed in large quantities.  I have used them in small quantities around specific plants but I don’t think I will again.

The methods I prefer are the slug traps and just going on a slug and snail hunt in the morning and Harry does it at night.  The slug traps can be anything like butter containers or jam jars with and inch or two of cheap beer in the bottom.  Lee shows you how here. If you dig a small hole in the ground near a susceptible plant and place the jam jar in the hole with about an inch of the jar above soil level.  Cover this with a broken bit of pot that is slightly curved so the rain doesn’t get in but the slugs can.  With the jar being slightly above soil level means that ground beetles are less likely to fall in.  The slugs go in for a feed of sweet beer and fall in and drown (intoxicated?) but the trouble is that again this is indiscriminate. (I use the jam jar and keep the lid so that I can pick the jar out of the hole and screw the lid firmly on so that I can transport it on my lap without spillage, dispose of the slugs and re-use the jar trap.)  Both good and bad slugs have a boozy end, and so do some wasps.  You can empty them into your compost heap afterwards.   

jam jar with some beer in it to trap slugs
Jam jar beer trap

jam jar to trap slugs with the broken pot lid on
Jam jar beer trap lid on

Picking off the bad guys is a good method at controlling the numbers but nature will never leave a void so more slugs and snails will come in.  I actually like the presence of snails as the blackbirds and thrushes can have have a good meal.  I do throw them into the golf course behind us though and they can takes their chance if they want to come back.  The little slugs are food for the frogs, newts and hedgehogs (we have only had one hedgehog visit).  If you walk around your garden regularly you will get to know where their favourite hiding places are so you can check them out on a slug hunt.  You can even put something they love nearby as bait such as old melon skin, then go and pick them off.  One favourite hiding place for snails is in the holes in the wall of the raised bed.  You have to be careful sticking your hand in the holes as sometimes wasps and bees can be found there too and you can get stung if not wearing gloves.

I have read various websites to find slug and snail proof plants but I think it is a bit of trial and error to find the ones that will survive in your garden.  I have 3 Astrantias in the garden and only the white one was resistant to attack (not completely however).  The pink and red ones got totally decimated wherever  I sited them.  Some websites say that fennel should be ok, and mine was for a few years but there must have been a stack of eggs in the base of one plant and the whole bronze fennel was covered in them.  I now don’t bother trying to grow hostas or delphiniums, and even my Salvai Amistad can be a bit hit and miss from attacks.  I do love my narcissi so I will keep trying to find a solution to stop the slugs and snails eating the flower heads.  So here is a list of plants in my garden that are pretty resistant to slugs and snails.   Note that I haven’t added shrubs or annuals to the list, they are mainly perennials.


Slug and
snail resistant plant list
(in my garden)

This is a list of the
perennials and bulbs that are slug and snail resistant in my garden (although
some can get nibbled they are not decimated).

Ajuga reptans

Alchemila mollis

Allium bulgaricum
(Nectaroscordum siculum or honey lily)

lanuginosa wooly rock jasmine

Anemones Japanese
and other types


proboscoideum mouse plant



Brunnera  macrophylla 
but NOT Brunnera Jack frost, it can get quite a bit of damage until
leaves are older

Calluna (heather)


Centauria  the blue/purple ones are ok but the white
versions are often eaten

tomentosum (snow in summer, dusty miller)



Cirsium rivulare








Erica (heaths)

Erigeron karvinskianus

mostly ok but some nibbles


ulmaria Meadowsweet

snakes head

Galium odoratum
Sweet woodruff



Geranium( hardy)




Hedera (most
ivies) although the snails love hiding in it

Hellebores (can
be nibbled by snails)



anomala  petiolaris

Lamium hybridum

squalida Platt’s black


Lonicera honey


Nepeta  x faassenii Junior Walker

Oregano vulgare
‘Aureum’  golden oregano

Oxalis acetosella

Papaver orientale
Patty’s plum

Parahebe porlock

henryana Chinese Virginia creeper

Peony red

affinis superba (knotweed)

Persicaria amplex

Phlox ice cream

caeruleum  Brise D’anjou Jacob’s ladder

thumberi Monarch’s velvet

Pulmonaria ‘Lewis
Palmer’  lungwort

vulgaris  papageno Pasque flower




wallichanum (a few nibbles)

Silene  dioica red campion

californicum brachypus 


flavium Glaucum






Gentionoides Blue streak and other veronicas

Vinca major and


Mid July and still watering the garden.

 Yes we may be in Scotland but we have had very little rain for the last few months (despite the showers this morning).  I have had to water the garden and top up the pond every 2nd day or so.  Plus watering the patio, conservatory and house plants.  The good thing about being very dry is that the roses have lots of sunshine (but they do require a lot more water) and so have done particularly well so far.  I planted a new rose in a difficult area by the patio, Gertrude Jekyll, it is just a small plant just now so hopefully it will do well there as it is quite heavy soil and it should get enough sun.  There has been very little slug and snail damage apart from  a few plants that have been absolutely decimated.  I have Astrantia major Alba, shaggy and Rubra, but only the Rubra has been attacked by slugs (the huge Spanish slugs).  I have moved it’s position now a few times and it always comes under attack, even when in pots on the patio.   So I have now dug them up and planted something else in it’s place for the time being.  I am going to try a very dark variety called Astrantia Gill Richardson group which is on the patio just now but if it gets no damage there then I will try it out in the garden.   

Another plant to succumb to slug damage is one of the Selinum Wallichianums.  There are about six of these in various parts of the garden and only one has been damaged, even though it only about a foot away from another of the same.  I definitely know it is slug damage as I picked them off myself!  

The witch hazel Hamamelis inter Diane foliage is looking almost autumnal already but rather lovely especially if back lit by the sunshine.  The Verbascum  raspberry ripple that was divided last year is looking a bit bushier now.  The double purple hellebore that was moved earlier this year and sadly cut in half by mistake is actually flowering just now! The blue geranium with dark purple leaves has finnaly flowered.  It is Geranium pratense Midnight Reiter and when it was sold to me it had very little root system so I should probably not have planted it out as soon as I did.  That was a couple of years ago and it has hardly grown at all but it has flowered now.  And the sweet peas are doing rather well now that they can get a bit more sunshine as the next door neighbour’s large shrub has been cut back.  (We have no neighbour there yet as the house is still being worked on by the current owner who is a property developer.  Let’s hope whoever moves in will chop that blasted huge purple leafed bird cherry tree down that has taken over our left hand corner of the garden!)  I did find a ladybird that I am just not sure if it is the dreaded Harlequin ladybird or not.  The Harlequin ones are bad news for our own native ladybirds but it can be hard to identify them properly.

The front garden is looking very dry but I haven’t been watering it much at all.  The small diamond shaped bed in the middle only has tulips and iris in it and is rather boring.  It looks great when the yellow bearded iris are in flower but they only last a couple of weeks then it is boring for the rest of the year.  I have decided to get a small rowan tree (Sorbus vilmorinii) and maybe some lavender to plant there instead to give a bit more interest all year round.  But that job will have to wait a bit.  So here are a few more pics for now from the back garden.

Verbascum raspberry ripple, pale pink flower spires with purple fluffy centres
Verbascum raspberry ripple

Pale pink climbing rose Generous gardener
Generous gardener rose

deep reddy pruple rose Munstead wood
Munstead wood rose

Purple moss rose William Lobb
William Lobb moss rose

Pink rose Gertrude Jekyll
Gertrude Jekyll rose

purple leaves and blue flowers of Geranium pratense Midnight Reiter
Geranium pratense Midnight Reiter
double purple hellebore flowering in July
Double purple hellebore

witch hazel foliage in July Hamamelis inter Diane
Hamamelis inter Diane

slug damage on Astranta major rubra
Astrantia major rubra slug damage

healthy foliage of Selinum wallichianum
Selinum wallichianum healthy

slug damaged foliage on Selinum wallichianum
Selinum wallichianum slug damage

possibly a Harlquin ladybird
Harlequin ladybird possibly?

native ladybird
Ladybird native?

selection of sweetpeas in a bunch in a green glass vase
Sweet pea bunch

Photos of the garden in May and June 2022

We have had so much sun and wind in the last few weeks that I have have to water the garden, patio and conservatory almost daily so it is nice to finally have some rain so I can get some other work done.

There are signs of mildew on the new variegated honeysuckle, perennial cornflower, meadowsweet, some aquilegias and some pulmonarias.  The slug and snail problems are mainly on the red astrantia (although in many books they say astrantias are slug proof! –  the white astrantia are fine however), the Jack frost brunnera at the back but not the ones at the front of the border, and the salvia Amistad and the baby’s breath.  Most of the other plants are left alone or just slightly nibbled.

I now have to cut back all the irises in the garden as they are all over.  None of the pond irises have flowered yet.  I am still waiting for the dark leaved geranium to flower – it has taken 2 years to grow just a couple of inches wide so I am guessing it will take ages to spread.

Here is a selection of  piccies taken over May and June.

orangey brown moth called the herald or Scoliopterix libatrix
Scoliopterix libatrix


unbanded yellow form of Grove snail or Cepaea nemoralis
Cepaea nemoralis


unknown white iris
white iris unknown


right side of pond
right side of pond


right side of pond taken from different angle
right side of pond different angle


honey lily or Nectaroscordum siculum by chimney
Nectaroscordum siculum
purple heuchera beside golden spirea and pink flowered hebe
Heuchera, hebe and spirea


veronica filiformus (speedwell) on log
Veronica filiformis on log


path in the garden May 2022
part of the garden in May 2022


Enkianthus campanulatus
Enkianthus campanulatus


Enkianthus campanulatus flowers against purple sambucus nigra
Enkianthus campanulatus flowers


spreading geranium with pink/lilac flowers
Geranium pink/lilac unknown


geranium wargrave pink in raised bed
Geranium wargrave pink


white geranium with pink centers in the raised bed
Geranium cantabrigiense biokvo


Geranium with double lilac flowers
Geranium double lilac unknown


Geranium with blue flowers
Geranium himalayense blue


blue iris Jane Philips
Iris Jane Philips


Ligusticum scoticum white flowers
Ligusticum scoticum


deep pink foxgloves
Foxgloves in the stumpery


white foxglove
White foxglove


blue creeping campanula
Campanula garganica Blue diamond


deep purple clematis
Clematis warszawski Nike


red astilbe
Astilbe Fanal red in the stumpery


white astrantia
Astrantia major white


tall yellow Himalayan cowslip
Primula sikkimensis


pink climbing rose Zephirin Drouhin
Zephirine Drouhin rose


pink climbing rose Genereous gardener
Generous gardener rose


velvety crimson rose Munstead wood
Munstead wood rose


selection of pots of flowers on the patio
Patio pots


mouse ornament in the trough
Mouse ornament in trough