Mud, clay and couch grass

Lectori Salutem, Especially now with only a couple of days to go until Christmas 2015 may I wish you all a joyful, bee happy and a plant happy 2016.


These lovely machines as shown in the photo have been very very busy in our garden at Wiggly Toe. The mobile home caravan with no roof was reduced to a pile of rubble in one day. You can see some of that in the picture. However,  disaster struck when the big guy with tractor wheels got stuck in our sticky clay mud. The little Kubuto crane with caterpillar wheels was called in to help liberate 1304. The driver in the first crane tipped the front of his vehicle up leaning a great deal of weght onto his shovel arm, the other driver then shoved iron driving plates under the tipped wheels of 1304. Quite spectacular really especially when it is happening in your own back garden.

Whilst most of that was going on I was busy planting my first garden. This little victory won from the grip of couch grass had been started on December 3rd. The couch grass covers most of our terrain and it is a plant that is very hard to eradicate, especially if you don’t want to poison the stuff…..

I have dug trenches and rolled it up and removed it to dry up so that it can be taken to the Council composting location. I don’t think they will want it either but you are forbidden by law here to burn stuff in your own garden, at least that was what the neighbour, Willem said when we tried that solution, big €’s fine if the milieu helicopters flew over and nabbed us. So we stopped that cleaning method. Now I’m waiting for it to shrivel up and die but I think it has taken on a new lease on life and will start to grow again on the grids I placed it on to starve it of soil!! Nasty me….

After three days of clearing away and digging through the rock hard clay soil into which I incorporated lots and lots of the horse manure that we inherited with the property a better soil texture began to appear. My first two plants were the Virburnum Tinus bushes. I had bought one last March at the Biodynamic Beekeepers national day. This had been in a container at the nature reserve all summer. When I wanted to plant her into proper soil she seemed healthy enough to try a split. So doing the Gardner’s World trick with two forks I split the plant and then there were two!!!   This bush provides vital foraging possibilites throughout autumn and is still in blossom throughout springtime.

I had four tiny brem plants which had persevered through the pavement in front of my neighbours house, offspring from the bush in his garden.  I asked him if he wanted them but he said I could pull them out if I wanted…. So they are planted now in one of the long sides. The peanut butter tree which I got as a thank you for the talk I gave to the nature club in April is planted there as well and along the backside I have a couple of hypericums and a couple of mahonias as well as snowberry’s which are also on the opposite long side near the greenhouse.

Last Christmas Ruurd and I visited family in the south of England. I took advantage of being in that area to visit Sarah at Bee Happy Plants nursery in Chard.     imageAs the name implies Sarah is also completely oriented to the wellness of bees. It was here that we bought the plants meant for our future orchard. We also bought 8 Berberis Darwinii which I have now planted along the path of my first garden here in what I hope will become a haven for all pollinating insects, birds and bats.

During one of the evenings of this digging week I was looking on the net for information regarding improving the texture of clay soil. This led me via via to a nursery man whose name is William de Bruijn. William and his brother own a bare root tree nursery.     He had a YouTube film on his site which advocates not ploughing (turning over) the soil but cutting through it with a sharp knife so that small furrows develop in which you can plant without disturbing the soil structure and its inhabitants.

I cannot do that as yet because my soil is compacted and thoroughly run through with creeping buttercup and couch grass so I have to be tough this year and hope that all the good soil buddies will forgive me and do their stuff so that this land will once again fulfill promise. Every earthworm I find under the rubble is carefully gathered up in wet hands and brought to where I hope it will make a new home.

William and his brother it turned out are the breeders of a completely new plant which is called Diervilla rivularis Honeybee. Apparently this plant appeared as a mutant in the Diervilla beds at their nursery. When they realised it was working like a magnet on all kinds of pollinating insects they decided to have a go at developing it. This process has taken a couple of years until 100% surety was achieved. Young plants are sent out to different countries to see how they will fare in other climatic and soil conditions. The plant was presented this year in the Plantarium 2015. I was able to buy 12 of them on December 8th. I was very lucky


Diervilla rivularis Honeybee

because the nursery is already having difficulty fulfilling demand from local ecologically minded town coumcils who want to plant it in a great many of  their public garden spaces.

So in my first bit of triumph over the couch grass there is a an innovative plant. I have planted them in an X.  I took three roses from my garden here…. Duftwolke (Fragrant Cloud) and my Graham Thomas rose. One can sell a house but one cannot sell a garden is my philosophy. I would be devastated if the future new owners of our current house emptied the front and back gardens here and made them into a stone and buxus (box) stylish garden and they threw away all my loved plants and bushes. This house is not yet up for sale so I am depriving no one. It is such an arranged wilderness and bee and butterfly oasis. We even have salamanders in the back garden. But for people who like neat and tidy and cut grass lawns like estate agents, I still have to develop that look but there is plenty of time before we go on the market.

In garden No. 1   imageI also planted my bluebells, tulips, daffodils, scyllas and crocusses all received with love on my birthday in November.

I planted crocosmia Lucifer which I increase from its own seeds every year. image  I just love that colour red, a lot of hellebores too. I can’t wait for everything to start coming into flower.


About Lindylou

I try to worthy of my bees. I do my best to treat them as the fantastic creatures that I think they are. I delight in them and worry about them. I work hard at learning to let well alone. Trusting the bees to know what is best for them.... Mortifying but also rewarding
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4 Responses to Mud, clay and couch grass

  1. solarbeez says:

    Your bees will love you. 🙂 Someone gave us a couple of Diervilla rivularis plants in pots. Bees were on them within a couple of minutes after we placed them in the garden. Unfortunately, our little deer friends liked them too, so we had to move them into the protected area.
    I still have some hypericum seeds left from my harvest. I’d love to send some to you if you’re interested. This is not the low growing hypericum, but the upright bush. I’ve been calling it Hidcote hypericum, but then I learned that Hidcote is a hybrid. I’ve gotten plants from the seeds and you’re welcome to try it out. The bees go crazy on it.
    Wow, what a coincidence…as I’m writing this comment, my iPhone chimed to indicate you were writing a comment on my “Harvesting Hypericum” post. I’ll send you some seeds this year so you can get started sooner. I’ve found they must be at least two years old before they start putting out many blossoms.

    • Lindylou says:

      Morning Pat, did you ever read what Amelia of Frenchgarden posted about human hair in nets which keep deer away from plants you want to protect from them. Seems to work for the French, probably will work for the Yanks as well, Good Luck

  2. Nice to read about the work in your large backyard. We hope you enjoy the work and your plants and the bees, next summer, too.

  3. Eddy Winko says:

    What a great name Wiggly Toe 🙂 We had a similar experience when we laid the foundation of the house and two cement mixers became stuck in the mud, a JBC had to be called in to pull them out of our clay rich land 🙂 I’m ashamed to say that we have yet to plant many flowering ants on our land, although there is quite a diverse mix here already. Gosia is looking forward to the day I finish the terrace around the house so she can start planting. I will have to revisit this post for inspiration as my knowledge on bee loving plants is minimal.

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