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My allotments !

Cleveland, United Kingdom Gb

Now that I have finished [less the maintenance ] my home garden I am concentrating on my allotments. I have two, one is much smaller than the other and easier care as it has been maintained throughout the two years I have had it. For that allotment I would like the viewing audience to recommend some perennial flowering plants that I could dot about to break up the landscape a bit, and give the garden an aesthetic pleasing look to the eye instead of just seeing greenery.
For the other allotment half the length of a football pitch but not quite as wide I need some sound advice on how to hide the eyesores either side which are loosely called fences, they are made up of old doors and any old lumber that previous tenants of the garden could get their hands on, problem is these areas below the fences on small banks are prone to damp. I would like a suitable perennial plant that will live in almost any soil growing to a height and spread that will obscure [or help obscure] these eyesores and a marginal plant that would survive dry spells just in case the areas on these banks dry out which is unlikely, but given the uncertainty and unpredictability of the weather who knows. All photos will follow to show the goy audience the task ahead, part of the larger allotment can be seen on pictures already posted in other sections but I will get the pictures to you asap. thanks in advance for any help with this .. .

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I'd recommend you buy the brushwood type of fencing sold in cheap stores like B&M to hide the eyesore fencing. That bank would make an ideal area to plant heucheras. They come in all sizes and colours and should grow well. It won't totally obscure the fences but it will allow light through the wire netting above. You could grow sweet peas here too. You could plant hedging like berberis which will give year round evergreen colour and can be kept cut back. Nice looking veg.

19 Jul, 2014


Thank you,to tell the truth I had not thought of covering a fence with a fence but yes I can see the benefits in doing this however it may just be too costly and the fence they sell at these gardening outlets may not be high enough. I will have a look when I am out and about shopping again.Would heucheras spread to cover the bank as weeds do, and bearing in mind the length of this allotment how long does it take these plants to start to thrive, and supposing I buy them in plugs, for that way is a lot cheaper, how far between each plant do I space them.

19 Jul, 2014


I think you have a lot of perennial weeds in there that could do with being eradicated before you start planting. You might also consider trying to stop new weeds coming under the fence from the other side once you have replanted. You will need to put some sort of physical barrier down below the level of the outside area and your allotment. Nothing is ever easy but black plastic bags slit along the length will be cost effective if yo can put them low enough. To keep down costs have a look on your local freecycle or similar websites. You might be able to pick up old slabs. They will be heavy but are a good barrier once in place. Old carpet cut up is almost as good. You will almost certainly be able to source plants which others are wanting to pass on to a new home because they are getting rid of Herbaceous borders in favour of hard standing or patios. While you have a think about it sow some annual seeds to give you a brighter outlook than you have at the moment. Lidl and Aldi and other cheap places still have plenty of seeds you can put in. Many of the annuals will self seed so you get at least two years of benefit. Plan to do hard graft while the garden is quieter. If you do source Herbaceous plants put them in supermarket flower containers 10 for a £1 at Asda. and sink those into the area. That way you will stop them being devoured by weeds before they get a chance to grow on. I would tackle it in small sections as it is a mammoth task but well worth doing correctly if you plan to stay on your allotment for the long term.

20 Jul, 2014


I reckon you could cover the unsightly fencing with perennials such as Golden Rod(Solidago), Michaelmas Daisies. Catmint( six hills giant), ornamental thistles such as the globe thistle Echinops retro or any other tall growing perennial which is cheap & cheerful. Scotsgran's idea of starting them off in containers is a good one if there are a lot of perennial weeds to be got rid of first. Try asking friends if they have any such plants that they are splitting up this autumn.

20 Jul, 2014


Thank you both for your ideas and input, what is largely suggested here is eradication of weeds and sinking perennial plants in pots to prevent strangulation of plant shoots. Have to say I am not new to this weed thing having done just what you suggested [have a look at my other posts please] at home where I dug out mounds of soil and replaced it with good top soil mixed with peat, what I am saying is I am no stranger to hard work and even at 64 years old would do this lot in a couple of days, it is not the hard work I consider difficult, its the I might make a mistake and have to do it all over again.
It has been suggested that I plant willow trees as these cope well with wet soil and grow and spread rapidly but I really am not sure.

There are no weeds on the other side of this fence as the chap who has it has loads of hens and they devour every bit of greenery and leave a bare environment where even weeds do not survive, its the other side where weeds abound, but these are allotments, and other people garden differently. I dig over then cover with black polythene sheet,seems to stop all but bind weed until I come to plant again.

I will take a Sheen flame gun and burn these weeds most are actually annuals except the dock and grasses. I'm charring ground as I go then I will dig the holes for the plants, mix in some good compost, cut holes in weed suppressant and plant up through the holes, it is what I need to plant for the best results that I need to know, already ordered some plug plant heuchera.

This really is a massive allotment and will need good planning to keep weeds at bay, just getting rid of the rubbish previous tenants had is a chore in itself for I have never seen as many plant pots in one place in my life, even garden centre shops would struggle to stock this lot, but by the end of this year it will be all but done and just to maintain however the planning of it is not a strong suit of mine hence the more ideas I get the more enthusiastic I become. Maybe looking at a 100.00 pound budget to sort this bank is there anything else you might suggest and what do you think to the Willow idea please? .

20 Jul, 2014


I personally would not plant willow. Sorry I did not read all of your past posts so please forgive me for giving advice where it is not needed. This link gives a list of suitable plants
Lots of them can be purchased in the likes of Morrisons (Acers are from £2.00 ) and they should all settle in to your damp but not waterlogged area. I hope you will let us see the results of your efforts next year. It should be worth seeing.

20 Jul, 2014


This land particularly this part at the front of the camera shot does actually waterlog, but the water does get gradually away, but I know not how it gets away, whether it seeps through the ground or evaporates, but I rather think it is the latter as I bashed a metal scaffold pole through the soil and observed the waters behaviour, it rose in line with the pipe and never budged which is I think as good as an indication as I can get that this water around that pipe [not in it] evaporates, but cold spells will give problems, and that in essence is why I raised the beds, all raised beds in this plot now and why I think this chap said plant willow. Tell me why you would not plant Willow please?

I thought I had presented all before and after pictures in my posts, but, so sorry, now looking over them I seem to have forgotten one, I will endeavour to find the pictures and sort that one out asap.

Maybe for the front of this garden I should plant marginals but there will never be a man made pond there so no real picturesque back drop for these plants, tell me what you think to that idea please, and if your able recommend a few for me. thanks again and again for all your help.

21 Jul, 2014


I would not choose to plant Willow as it is a very vigorous root growing plant. That could be an advantage in stabilising your banking but it can also put on between 3 and 6m of top growth each year. That could cause the roots to spread onto your allotment area and would possibly overshadow your growing plants. If left to its own devices it could become unstable and topple in a high wind. You could go for a coppicing type like the Salix species Alba Vitellina which produces golden yellow shoots or Salix Alba Chermesina which produces bright scarlet shoots. Both of these varieties can be coppiced back early springtime approximately every two years to produce new vigorous shoots. I fear they might break the budget but would give you colour throughout the year. If you could get some cuttings in autumn they will take root and grow quickly. It may also be worthwhile, providing that the ground is not too wet, to plant one or two Holly Trees which will give year long colour but choose both a male and a female variety to ensure you get berries unless you know there are berrying hollies in the vicinity. . Golden King is female and Silver Queen is male. (no I did not write that down the wrong way round). Aucuba Japonica is evergreen . The common Alder (Alnus Glutinosa) which thrives in wet soil and will also tolerate partial shade and can be coppiced back and some of the hardy Ferns might be good. Ground cover plants such as Pulmonaria, Tolmeia, Mahonia Japonica might work for you. You did not say whether this banking is N, S,E or west facing.

21 Jul, 2014


Thank you for your reply, what you indicate is a more than good enough reason why I will not now plant willow, but what about Hibiscus Syriacus says in that link they tolerate moist areas and prefer it there, or what about Clematis Nelly Moser or the other fast growers, or dogwood, seems the list is endless but I cannot picture the finished article at all to even start with it and yesterday I dug approximately a third of the holes to over a spades depth ready to drop in what I decide upon.

There is a willow tree in this garden but I did not put it there and as you say they are vigorous and grow very fast, thickening up as they go, hollies I would not discount out of hand but are there any without nasty little spikes as I have to get around those beds and do not want to be scuppered because of the likelihood of being spiked.

The garden as a whole gets full sun, if I were to have it at a guess the sea which is less than a couple of hundred yards away is east facing so I would have it at a guess that this bank faces due south or south west.

Incidentally do you know anything about nettles, for there are some [and they all look the same to me] in that garden that sting with a vengeance.I wear gauntlet gloves [the type welders use] but still fall foul of being stung when I pull these nettles and they sting like no nettle I have been stung by before, causing pain and swelling that lasts for days, no I'm not allergic to them there is no rash but these things really do sting.

22 Jul, 2014


I am sorry I don't have time to give you a more thorough planting plan but if you look at the photo you posted in one of your blogs which inspired you to plant your home garden, maybe you can do something similar here. I do not grow hibiscus so cannot comment on how well it would grow for you. There are some smooth leaved hollies but which would appeal to you is such a personal choice that I think you might do well to visit a few garden centres or Supermarket plant areas to see what is available within your area and your budget. Cheap supermarket plants are often very good value. You can check how healthy the plant is and make sure you do some research on what you like before spending money. None of us want to waste money but sometimes we make a mistake and wish we had chosen differently. As plants tend to grow for more than one year it means you have a different budget in years two, three etc. Don't worry about buying small plants they do better in the long run in my experience. Mature plants often struggle to make the transition from pot to garden. I always mix bone meal in to the planting hole when planting any plant as it helps give the roots a good start. If you sow lupin seed now the plants will flower next year. If you do go to a GC have a look at the Dr. Hessayon series of books. Clematis are available in the shops now and would be good buys in my opinion.

24 Jul, 2014


Thank you for all your help and staying with me on this, I have ordered from the bay the geo textile weed suppressant material, 100m x 2m of it and saved myself 20.00, and I will also get the ground staples from the same firm. I'm going for the compost next week which is probably when I will sort this job out, all the holes are dug now. I'm thinking of ferns and bamboo mix, clump formers not those that race away and grow everywhere,. it solely depends on what I can afford to spend on them. Clematis, where have you seen them please, were they inexpensive for in the GC these are very expensive so is the bamboo but I will buy half a dozen mature[ish] plants and split them Nov time when they are dormant. Nothing is set in stone as yet and I may go for dogwood as these are quite inexpensive, but to bid for, on the bay. What do you think of dogwood the red stemmed in the winter time type.

25 Jul, 2014


Garden centre clems are typically from £12.99 in our area. You are paying for top quality ready to flower plants. Adi had a selection of well grown plants recently for £7.99. They and Morrison, Asda, Lidl, Aldi, B&M, Wilkie often have small plants from £1.99. These may well flower next year but if you can be patient and cut them down next Spring the plant will produce more stems and put on bulk instead of giving you flowers. Just keep your eyes open for bargains. Many English market days in town centres will have plant stalls (probably local nurseries who grow their own) or plant sellers (who buy plants in to resell). If you fancy something tip the plant out of the pot and check that it has healthy roots and is not being sold off at cheap prices because it is getting way past saving. Make sure you put your hand over the top of the pot and around the plant so that you don't tip the soil all over the place. You might then be asked to pay for it even if you feel it is no good.
I don't use weed suppressant material because I found the weeds come up and choke plants. I found it a nuisance to cut the holes and plant through it. I prefer to use several layers of newspaper which will in time disintegrate. Since you have ordered the material I would strongly advise you to put your new purchases in pots of compost (black 'cut flower' bins 10 for £1.00 in Asda) remembering to make holes in the bottom of the pots so that the water does drain away. If you find weeds coming from under the suppressant cover you can lift out the pot, and get rid of the weeds. Any of the dogwoods are lovely because of their red or yellow stems in winter. Cut the stems down in Spring to 4 or 5 buds from the bottom to get good new growth.

25 Jul, 2014


Yes I take on board what you say and your tips, thank you.

I have used weed suppressant material more or less since its inception into the market as part of hard landscaping, used paving, gravel and the like for a better low maintenance garden which is what I have created at home. I must say I have never really had many problems with weeds resurfacing as I generally dig most out and char the ground with a flame gun, in fact, in both allotments I usually grow throughout the year then cover the plots once the veg is harvested, this is a weed prevention strategy, quite a bit of this allotment newly dug over, is, at the moment, covered with plastic sheet.

I find there is too much choice at what to grow on this bank, it cannot be levelled,is an eyesore, and so I think I will go for something that grows quick, covers quickly and needs little maintenance, but I am about as far forward as the 'man in the moon' with it, probably need a little shove, so if you have further thought, what is it that you personally would plant please.

What are these planters you talk about in Asda. I have seen flowers in plastic pots in there when buying to put on my late fathers grave, but I did not know they were for sale.. are these to what you refer..

I have bought heuchera x 26 plants purplish and the greener ones and could still plant them there by the bank as a focal point at the front..

29 Jul, 2014


The plastic pots used for cut flowers used to be discarded but I asked for some one time and got them on a regular basis until someone obviously thought there was a way of raising money for charity by selling them. I have seen them all over the country so its not just our local stores which do it. If you do not see any on sale ask at customer services instore. Other supermarkets may also be willing to give you pots which they do not return to the growers. You will need to make holes in the bottom to allow them to drain.
I cannot tell you what you should be growing as it has to be a personal choice. Your priority as I read it was that you wanted to disguise the fence. Unless you grow an evergreen, you cannot hide the eyesore in winter, which is why I suggested brushwood fencing. You could just grow Russian Comfrey which you could harvest before the plants flower and add to your compost bins. It is extremely hard to get rid of if you later decide to have something different. Feverfew gave you good suggestions. I think you need to look to next year as you left it too late to disguise the area this year. Scatter seeds in September of things like foxgloves which will grow tall and be colourful next year too. If and when you decide to alter your range of plants the foxgloves will be easy to compost and get rid of because of their large flat roots. They will last more than one year and will self seed if you allow the seed heads to mature. Bronze fennel would look good and will not cost a lot but it will throw up 6'-8' stems and produce flat heads of bright yellow flowers. Again it will self seed if they are not cut off. You could also use the area for growing asparagus. Plant them at the top of the bank. You asked what I would do with the area and I would want to make a long raised bed using either brickwork or for cheapness I would recycled pallets or old paving slabs. Look on freecycle or similar free sites. No matter what you choose to do it will take time to get it to be really functional and good looking. I would make a plan of what I want it to look like in 5 years and then take it forward year on year. Now is the time to start thinking about planting sweet pea seeds. Once you have a raised bed the next stage could be to roof it over in whole or in part to give a great area for growing early flowers and veg. As you have now explained this area is very wet and may be very dry I would definitely plant the heucheras in pots to give them the conditions they like. You could dot them around the other parts of your allotments too. I have always been patient and prepared to wait for good results. My first area of garden was planted with evergreen shrubs and I put perennial plants and annuals in between to fill the spaces until the shrubs grew big enough to fill the space allocated to their needs in 10 years time. Your real problem is that although it is long the depth ie back to front does not look big enough to accommodate shrubs which would grow tall enough to hide the eyesore fencing. Just a thought you could try placing pallets along the fence line and line them with black bags with holes in full of soil. Pop your heuchera in the top of them and you will get an instantly higher and cheaper fence than is otherwise achievable. The possibilities are endless but not instant.

2 Aug, 2014


Hmm loads of ideas, loads and loads, thank you so very much.

I'm not looking for instant results, but, neither can I wait 5 years or more as longevity is the key here, and if I still have the health and fitness as someone mentioned before, for at 64 yrs old gardening well into my seventies to achieve a good result on that bank, hmm well, I jolly well hope I am gardening well into my seventies, but, as one person said there are no guarantees, and I am a classic case of fitness not being wellness .

I have my green house now, waiting to go up, got most of the garden dug over and covered with visqueen from the builders merchant to suppress the weeds. Just this bank to sort but pallets would not be high enough on their sides or ends to obscure this fence. Seems there are no quick fixes so I will sleep on it this year and in the meantime I will buy some ground staples to secure the weed suppressant without cutting the necessary holes in it to plant up from, until of course I am ready.

I will part landscape this garden probably hard landscape it a bit at a time, and have just the raised beds for vegetables[there is only my wife and I to grow for] and a border round it all at the other side, the side opposite the bank, and then hundreds of pounds lighter I will have little to do except maintenance, this suits me, suits me fine, as this is my retreat, a retreat from a house I hate, in an area I hate, that so happens to be placed nicely by the sea.

2 Aug, 2014


Don't despair. You have the basics to help you live a long and fulfilled life in having your allotments. You may develop a passion for growing something like Chrysanthemums or Dahlias or primulas. There are plenty of clubs to suit individual preferences and joining one then opens up a whole new area to explore and where you can meet new people who share your interests. I am 70+ and only recently joined the Scottish Rock Garden Club. My OH who is 84 has now caught the bug and is starting to learn the latin names of the plants I grow or that take his fancy when we visit open gardens. We are both too busy to worry about getting old. Occasionally I think I should stop digging up the lawn to add another bed for something interesting but I do it anyway. Life is for living.

2 Aug, 2014


I'm not despairing,[but I do appreciate what you say] not a bit of it, it is an opportunity gained, not lost, and not a chore. I suppose I was reined in a bit by others comments on other sites I visit when I mentioned what I was about to do, but get on with it I will. I could not care less about getting old if I have my faculties. My mother is still alive and she has no interests except watching TV but that is her life, I would love it if she took up an interest, my late father would of too, but it wasn't to be, my point is ,it is everyone to their own, and nothing between can prevent that.

My wife and I now both retired are ex professional people I was a nurse,, she was too, we lived in a lovely place and were compelled or felt compelled to move because of those that moved into the area following older people having to sell up to pay for their care in nursing homes, or like two of my neighbours who died and the family sold the houses off to landlords and I guess you can guess the rest, it brought about untoward change of a mammoth degree that had a drastic impact on our lives, and so we seized the opportunity to move.

I had a lovely garden, brought about by years of love and toil, my son sorted all the brickwork, but we had to move .No buoyancy in the market meant I had to throw my pension and our old home at this new house we moved to, it was an exchange, what have we got two plus years on, well its like kindergarten, where kids throw stones kick footballs etc.. one damaged my car and all this for over 200.000 pounds of my money, the biggest mistake of my life, and now of course houses are not selling, this one has been up and down for sale umpteen times now and I have done all sorts to it personally, including building a summer house putting on a conservatory block paving the drive and landscaping the garden, so yes I do get a little cheesed off, and that is why I love my allotment, I would keep it even if it were bare, as this is my private idyll far away from the madding crowd. .

I wonder now how many people can tell a similar tale to this one, sadly they will probably come forward in their droves.

3 Aug, 2014


You are right to focus on the positives in your life. I have found from personal experience that time sorts out most problems and the ones that do not have a good outcome can be turned around by focusing on the good things we are blessed with. OH's mother died at age 96. For a short time she attended a day centre where she was encouraged but refused to do jigsaws, play dominoes, etc. All in the interests of keeping her brain active. Eventually we were invited to a meeting to discuss her interests. All she wanted to do was watch snooker on TV. They were not happy about that. We pointed out that her brain was as agile as ever and she could total scores as quickly as the announcers. When OH took her shopping she knew to a penny how much she owed when she arrived at the checkout and had no time for 'Those silly we lassies and their infernal machines'. On nice days she would get on a bus round the corner from her house and ride around the circular route of about 20 miles before arriving home refreshed and happy. I could never understand why people thought she was being allowed to run wild and not being looked after properly. As you say each to her/his own. Keep all the do gooders well away from me.

3 Aug, 2014


Can you see the avatar picture, can you see what I am holding, he is the love of my life, for whom I would kill for, given to me when my daughter got divorced, he is a now not so sweet Yorkie, now that is, because he was attacked by a bull terrier[one of those massive dogs that brings bulls down] when aged two years old, I saved his life by fighting this thing off] he is now nine years old. Sadly his first line of defence is always offence, he is none too choosy how big the dog is that he fights that invades his self space, why am I saying this, simply to emphasize that it is life's events that shape ones pathway for this little dog did nothing wrong, always socialised with other dogs until that fateful day way back when, now he will not have anything to do with any dog and he is also wary of some humans.

3 Aug, 2014


I'm glad he has you in his corner.

3 Aug, 2014


That which you mention above should be our maxim for life as I share your view, which is;''keep them do gooders away from me''

Thank you for all your help, your application, commitment , views and opinions are very much appreciated.

4 Aug, 2014

How do I say thanks?

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