Desperately in need of advice/ help..

Discussion in 'Garden Projects and DIY' started by Upsydaisy, Feb 7, 2020.

  1. Upsydaisy

    Upsydaisy Total Gardener

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    ..in creating a wildlife garden area for my Dad.

    For many, many years ( well it feels that long!) my Dad has attempted to create one at the bottom of his garden, sadly the results haven't been very good .:heehee:
    Today he brought the subject up again and I know he really longs for one. The area is only about ( my Dad's measurements) 12ft by 18ft and runs along one of his compost heaps with a stepping stone path in the middle to access the heap. The area is riddled with weeds and Ground Elder. I did my best to clear it as best I could last year and sowed loads of wildflower seeds but eventually the Ground Elder took over
    and strangled all the seedlings.

    He wants me to try again as he thinks G E is easily got rid of !!!!!.....to be honest I can't face him being disappointed again....so.....

    As time is of the essence clearing the said area of the dreaded weed is not feasible ( Dad is nearly 95) but I suddenly got an idea of using meadow matting to cover the area...but of course the G E will still be lurking underneath. What I would like to know is if this could work / or if anyone could suggest an alternative plan of action.
    Meadowmat | Wildflower & Turf Suppliers | TurfOnline

    Thanks .:)
     
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    • Upsydaisy

      Upsydaisy Total Gardener

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    • ricky101

      ricky101 Total Gardener

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      Hi,

      Thats a difficult one, as apart from hand weeding, you really need to apply a good non persistant weedkiller over the next few months to stop it in its tracks this spring.

      Even then sowing seeds or plant mats, they will be very low growing for this year and even next might not be that big.

      Think I would perhaps take a different approach, use some weed killer, then lay a strong membrane down and put in some wooden raised beds surrounded by chippings or gravel etc.

      Then plant up the beds, not with wildflowers, which they say needs poor soil, but with the more usual annuals etc that look similar to wildflower but are easier and quicker to grow.

      Use trailing plants like Aubretia etc to mask the bare looking front of the raised beds
      Perhaps some trellis at the back for some climber to hide the compost heap ?

      Despite his preferance for wildflowers think a tastefull display will still be appreciated ...and a lot easier to implement and care for.
       
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      • Upsydaisy

        Upsydaisy Total Gardener

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        Thanks @ricky101 , I know for sure that he wouldn't want raised beds. He has a very large garden and this is just a tiny area at the very bottom of it. The compost can't be seen from the house or main garden area so hiding it isn't really an issue. Using weed killer would definitely not be allowed as the area is very near to his largest pond and whoa betide anyone even contemplating using some!!! The other factor is that sadly since my Mum died 15yrs ago ( she was a brilliant gardener) G E has taken over most of the garden now. I know what really needs to be done as we had to rid our garden of it 38 years ago when we moved here , but as I said we haven't, maybe, got that sort of lenght of time to play with. I suppose I'm wanting the impossible really....an instant wildlife garden for this summer!!

        He is way too frail to garden anymore , in fact he can hardly walk down to the bottom of his garden. He can with help make it to his biggest pond and if he sits there he would be able to see his 'wildlife ' garden through the trees.
        I know I'm asking for the impossible but it's something he dreams for as he's wildlife crazy.It just makes me so very sad that it seems unachievable especially when he told me today that he's had a feeling lately that his time is running out.

        Garden maintenance is now all down to me, and I also have my own large garden to look after too.

        Thanks for your ideas though , especially the suggestion of using annuals that look similar to wildflowers. That's definitely food for thought. :ThankYou:
         
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        • ricky101

          ricky101 Total Gardener

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          Sounds like you need the help of one of those TV Garden SOS type programs and get Mr. T around to help ?!

          Seems your Dad is suffering a bit of the winter blues. sure he will perk up once the spring flowers and pond wildlife start coming around, have not heard any frogs around our little pond yet, perhaps that bit warmer down your way?
           
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          • shiney

            shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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            You could try planting field poppies, cornflowers, Nigella, oxeye daisies, red campion, corn chamomile, betony, agrimony, field scabious, quaking grass, red dead nettles etc.

            Some of them would need planting each year as you weed out some of the worst ground elder and some of them are annuals. 12' x 18' shouldn't be too difficult to do.
             
          • Upsydaisy

            Upsydaisy Total Gardener

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            That's what I sowed last year , and at first it was easy keeping on top of the G E, but once a week or two are missed :yikes:...when I say he has G E I mean he has a serious case of it!!!
            You wouldn't believe how much seed I used but eventually the G E seemed to suffocate the whole lot.

            The other big problem I encounter is the fact that he is a huge bird feeder, but sadly he can't reach up to refill his feeders ( I do it whenever I go over) so inbetween times he just chucks the seed everywhere that he can manage to walk to. As soon as I sowed the seeds last year the birds were down in droves, so I placed a net a couple of inches above ground level but my Dad got so distressed at the thought of birds getting trapped that in the end it was removed.

            I blame the gardeners he had after my Mum died, and he had several!, they just seemed to ignore the stuff.

            But yes that maybe the only way to try again @shiney :ThankYou:
             
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            • Janet mahay

              Janet mahay Gardener

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                    • Usually elder comes from a waste land or negleted niegbour garden as it is invasive, the white flowers on elder do provide a pollen and nectar source to a range of insects in the summer months. But it can be a nuisance and choke plants
                    • As gound elder is spread by rhizones (roots)and seeds you could several times dig your spade into the ground where you’re likely to see a spaghetti tangle of rhizomes.Dig out all the roots you can see, as even small pieces of root .. can regrow also An alternative to digging is to apply an organic or synthetic weed killer. A tough weedkiller containing glyphosate but Spraying in the evening will be far more effective than spraying during the day as more of the chemical will be absorbed by the folage
                    • You can also try · Regular cutting of the foliage, just below ground level with a hoe which will gradually weaken the plant, but this needs to be done every 7-10 days, as soon as regrowth appears. Or, fork through the soil every 10 to 14 days, removing every piece of ground elder root that’s found but it will take time and patence to remove it and if you dont wont to do it yourself there is a sevice on net that do remove it
               
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              • luciusmaximus

                luciusmaximus Total Gardener

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                You could try eating the ground elder
                Growing and eating ground elder
                :heehee::heehee:

                I also read that ground elder is good for pollinators.

                What are aiming to achieve with your wildlife area? Do you have an idea of how you want it to look and how it will work to benefit the wildlife? Are you looking to attract just certain species or as many as possible?
                 
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                • shiney

                  shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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                  We used to make a cream soup with it. :blue thumb:

                  We had an area of 30' x 15' that was solid with it. We carefully removed the shrubs and plants from the bed (left the trees :rolleyespink:), discarded any that we didn't really want to bother with, washed and removed every bit of soil from the ones we wanted to keep and quarantined them in a separate bed, and then started to dig and remove the G.E. We turned the soil once a week and removed any of the tiny bits of white root. Then gradually changed from weekly to monthly and then even longer periods.

                  We finally got rid of it after 15 years! :phew:

                  A friend got rid of theirs by using Sodium Chlorate but it was banned by the EU in 2009. As I don't use chemicals in the garden I don't know of the modern replacements - if any. I did used to use it for spot treatment on the driveway.

                  A quote from @pete from nine years ago (you were allowed a year to use up any stock you had).

                  :lunapic 130165696578242 5:
                   
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                  • Selleri

                    Selleri Super Gardener

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                    It might be hopeless to get rid of the GE totally, but perhaps you can achieve a balance. Get rid of as much as you can, repeat, repeat :biggrin: Destroying all possible growth will at least weaken the colony to give the flowers a chance.

                    Starting the wildflowers in trays and planting out when in strong growth might work better GE- and birdwise. You could then scatter the leftover seeds between the planted plants to give more natural look. A couple of (dwarf) Buddleyas will flower this summer and pull the butterflies in.

                    Sounds like a Project with a capital P, but also very heartwarming. You have a big heart Upsydaisy :)
                     
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                    • Upsydaisy

                      Upsydaisy Total Gardener

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                      Thanks @Janet mahay , I do know all about G E as our garden was over run with it when we moved in here 38 yrs ago and we successfully eradicated it but it was hard work..and I was a lot younger!;)

                      I spend one day a week at my Dad's and most of that is spent digging and pulling it up ,I also chop back the leaves too in hope of weakening it. As I said ,time is running out and like a spoilt child...I want it now!!:roflol: Not possible I know.:ThankYou:
                       
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                      • Upsydaisy

                        Upsydaisy Total Gardener

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                        @luciusmaximus Yes I know that's what I keep suggesting to him but he never had been keen on eating up his greens.:biggrin::ThankYou:
                         
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                        • JWK

                          JWK Gardener

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                          I know you have said your Dad would not contemplate using weedkiller but all the other suggestions here are also ruled out because of time/labour. Really the only non-weedkiller routes are as per Shiney's method: completely digging out the bed and removing every bit by hand, then quarantining it for months/year - or Ricky's method: membrane and bark cover raising up the level.

                          I suggest you use a gel spot weedkiller, I've used it successfully where tough weeds are growing amongst precious plants. You rub the gel on the weed's leaves - with Ground Elder it will need several treatments but it is quick and easy to do each time. It will kill right down to the roots:


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                          • Upsydaisy

                            Upsydaisy Total Gardener

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                            @luciusmaximus I'm not too sure what in his muddled mind he really wants to be honest. My thinking tells me he would like a patch specifically for insects, butterflies, bees, birds etc. I'm not aiming on achieving alot, it's only a small area at the very far end of his large garden, just a swathe of wildflowers mixed in with a fair few weeds would be a good start..but they need to be strong and not succumb to G E. I know I'm asking for the impossible really, but thought it was worth asking everyone for their thoughts.:)
                             
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                              Last edited: Feb 8, 2020
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