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Notes from the Garden Shed

March Notes

What springs to mind when Chrysanthemums are mentioned? Would it be the large, perfectly incurved blooms of the typical florists’ Chrysanthemum, some of which are like giant coloured ‘ puff balls’ . Could it be the ‘pot mums’ that are sold all the year round as gift plants? I am sure most readers are not aware of just how many different types of this popular flowering plant exist.
If you are lucky enough to own a greenhouse or cool conservatory, you could try growing some large incurving types or Japanese Chrysanthemums, both could be timed to produce some prize blooms for the Christmas table. These are rather specialist plants and require plenty of attention, particularly to feeding, dis-budding etc, through the growing season, but your patience will be rewarded with some gorgeous blooms.

If you do not have the use of a greenhouse, there are still plenty of other types which grow happily in the garden. If a good display is required in a border, the ‘Korean’ type of Chrysanthemum will give a good bold display, from September through to the frosts in November. This versatile plant is available in various colours, and will make a large during their first year.
Another type suitable for cut flower production in the garden are the pom-pom and anemone flowered types, these will bloom right through until the frosts cut them down in late autumn. The ‘Rubellum’ type of chrysanthemum is also very colourful with large single flowers and yellow centres, these last extremely well in a vase in a cool room, but I prefer to leave them in the border where they provide an excellent show.
If you are keen to try some of these versatile perennials, you could send for an illustrated catalogue from ‘Woolman’s Chrysanthemums, this long established firm of Nurserymen have been providing young plants to generations of gardeners, and have bred many new varieties over the years. Their catalogue should be available by post and also online. They supply rooted cuttings in the spring, for potting on prior to planting out. (of course other growers are available)
If you should have some established Chrysanthemum plants in the garden, you could lift your favourite ones and bed them into large pots or trays in January. If they are placed in a greenhouse, new shoots will soon appear. New shoots make ideal cutting material for creating a new generation of plants, which will be ready for flowering in the Autumn.
If you are keen on Chrysanthemums it must be worth growing a few large flowered Japanese/Incurves for a fine display at Christmas time, single blooms are a horrific price from florists, sadly most of these wonderful blooms are imported as our growers are not subsidised and are not operating on a ‘level playing field’.
Happy gardening,      Old Gumboot

Christmas notes from the Garden Shed.

For those traditional people who do not go for artificial Christmas trees, there are several types of ‘real’ trees available if you are prepared to search for them at garden shops or specialist Christmas tree growers’ plantations.

Norway Spruce

Norway Spruce

By far the most popular type of ‘live’ tree available is the Norway Spruce or picea abies to give it it’s proper title. Norway Spruce is widely grown, with many being grown here in Wales, where the climate seems to suit them.  This type of spruce makes a handsome tree in the forest when mature, but is not really suitable for garden use.   When cut down and taken into a house for decorative purposes they tend to object to warm centrally heated rooms, and drop their foliage ‘needles’  all over the floor if not kept moist.    I find that it helps if you make a fresh cut at the base of the stem as you install the tree, and if possible stand the base in a container of water, which will probably need to be topped up occasionally.

Nordman Fir

Nordman Fir

The Nordman Fir or Abies Nordmanniana to give it it’s botanical name, is becoming much more popular now.  The ‘Nordman’ has gained its popularity through its ability to hang on to its ‘needles’ for a longer period when taken into a warm house.   The Nordman firs are particularly handsome specimens in the woods where they belong, the foliage is much denser than the Norway Spruce and the reverse side of each ‘needle’ has a silvery tinge.     As Christmas trees the Nordman is usually more expensive to buy, but there could be less sweeping up to do when the festivities are over.

Scots Pine

Scots Pine

Some people prefer the more ‘open’ habit of the Scots Pine (Pinus Sylvestris).  These trees look particularly good if treated to a spray with some artificial snow, but they can be a bit too bulky for the average front room.

Douglas Fir is another handsome alternative to the Norway Spruce, these are not widely available from garden shops  as they are normally confined to areas of forestry, where they are grown as timber producing trees,  but in their juvenile stage they make a fine ‘Christmas tree’.

Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir

There are arguments for, and against using living trees, but I think the use of ‘real’ trees is preferable to using tons and tons of plastic to produce artificial trees, however realistic they may look.

Whichever type you choose, I hope it brings you joy this Christmas.

 Old Gumboot (with bells and tinsel)

August Notes

Mid to late Summer is normally the time of year when roses are at their best, the majority of gardens include at least one of these versatile plants,  be it a neglected old rose bush, or an out of control rambling rose in dire need of a ‘haircut’.

If you wander through the rose display area at your local Nursery or Garden centre,  you will be presented with a vast range of rose types.  Most people are familiar with the traditional shaped bloom of the ’hybrid tea’ rose,  these have been developed in relatively recent times.  Cross breeding with various earlier forms of rose enabled breeders to achieve the varieties we are familiar with today.  The chosen attributes of several rose ‘ families’ were combined  in an effort to create the result the breeder was striving to achieve.

Most hybrid tea or HT as they are known are available in bush or climbing form, and of course hundreds of named varieties in various colours may be chosen to suit the colour scheme of any garden.

Floribunda  roses are a little different, their flowers are generally more plentiful and in multi-headed form, this makes them more suitable  for producing a showy display for mass plantings.  Floribundas  are often less scented then HTs , these too  are also available in bush form and some varieties are produced as climbers.

Rambling roses  are normally far more vigourous in growth habit, some able to cover large areas, these can give a stunning display of smaller flowers in various colours, but, often only for a short period in mid summer,  with careful ‘dead heading’ some will prodcuce a second crop of blooms later in the year.  Quite severe pruning is often required to keep some varieties of rambling rose in check.

The modern trend seems to be the quest to produce rose bushes that combine the best features of many past rose varieties, the aim being creation of repeat flowering, scented, and compact growing  varieties for use in smaller modern gardens, also for growing in containers ( patio roses)  and for smaller scale rose beds.

If you look through a rose catalogue, available from all the major rose nurseries, you will find just how many different types of rose are available to today’s  gardener,  be it for screening, by forming a ‘hedge’  or rambling over an old shed, climbing up a pergola or trellis or maybe simply as ground cover.

There is literally ‘a rose for every purpose’

Happy gardening

Old Gumboot.

June Notes

Now that we are well into the ” merry month of May ” the vegetable garden should be progressing nicely, but again this year we are having a late start due to the cold wet conditions that have persisted until fairly recently, preventing cultivations and seed sowing from taking place at the traditional time of the season.

In recent years a ‘Garden competition’ has become a regular feature within the Parish, where it is hoped that many horticulturally minded folks will enter their gardens, hanging baskets, and planters into this competition, in the hope of becoming a successful winning gardener.

With the “garden competition” in mind ‘Old Gumboot’ would like to see many more hanging baskets adorning the Villages in 2016, now is the time to make a start, if you have not already done so.

Baskets need not be expensive to produce. Plug plants or starter plants can be purchased thereby saving a lot of money if compared with fully grown bedding plants, and small plants are much easier to fit into a basket, and quicker to establish themselves. Some of the most common bedding plants can make a stunning display if they are well maintained, a mass of Lobelia in various shades soon fill s basket, as do petunias especially the surfinia type, in fact, 5-6 surfinia plants will clothe a basket fairly quickly, if kept well fed and watered.

The basis of a good display is of course a good basket in the first place. Give plenty of thought to the siting of your display, if you want it to be judged in the competition it must be in a prominent position, easily visible from the road or pavement. The weight of a watered basket can be quite considerable, therefore make sure you have a very secure hanging point.

Simple wire framed mesh baskets are perfectly good enough if lined with a coco fibre liner, polythene or the traditional moss. There are a wide range of other types of basket available, made from various plastics, some include built in water reservoirs which mean less time is needed for watering, but be wary as even these dry out out quickly in hot dry weather. The conical shaped baskets made from different fibrous materials seem popular now, and due to their depth are suitable for more vigourous plants such as the larger growing begonias and geraniums for example.

I find it makes the job easier if you stand your basket on an upturned bucket when preparing and planting up. Once the liner is installed it is time to add some suitable compost, you can buy ready prepared mix from the garden shop, or why not mix your own? I suggest John Innes compost number 3 which can be mixed with about 25% multi purpose compost, also add some slow release fertiliser and some water retaining gel granules to reduce the need for constant watering.

Now that you have some compost in your basket it is time to add the plants. Firstly consider your colour scheme and buy the appropriate plants. If you have a large basket ,you could plant a feature plant in the centre, maybe a geranium or two or tuberous rooted begonias which will bloom all summer. Fuchsias are not too successful in baskets if they are in bright sunlight, as they prefer to be cooler and partly shaded. Add some trailing plants around the edges of the basket, trailing geraniums, trailing lobelia, petunias, bidens are all suitable, you could also pop in a few small plants through the liner at the side of the basket, bizzie lizzies and surfinia petunias are ideal.

Top up with more compost and gently firm the compost, being careful not to damage the tender plants, finally water well to settle the plants in and place the freshly planted basket in a shaded position for a couple of days for the plants to become acclimatised to their new home. You may need to water the basket every day if the weather is hot and dry, water and plant food are essential during the season if you are to keep your basket looking at it’s best. Liquid feed every week, following the guidelines on the bottle, tomato feed is suitable for baskets and most bedding plants.

It is also important to deadhead the plants regularly, to remove faded and dead flowers, through the season.

The judges will be inspecting the Parish baskets during August, so make sure yours are looking good enough to win this year.

Also keep the flowers and produce growing well for later in the year for the Garden and Craft Show on the 10th of September.

Happy gardening

Old Gumboot

April Notes

I think it was November when the winter rains started in our area, and surprise surprise! it is still falling on my old shed roof, making gardening impossible today due to the waterlogged land, so, I will have to ramble on about something else, well it is gardening related.

Ever since man developed an interest and a need to produce his own food, he has been striving to find easier and more effective ways and means of cultivating the soil. Prior to this need to produce food, the hunter gatherers would have harvested what they could find on the land and in the woodlands surrounding their dwellings. Seasonal weather changes and increasing population must have lead to times of food shortage, this would have encouraged the cultivation of the land to enable simple food production to take place, in a small way, using limited resources.

Firstly clearings would have been made in the woodland to let in valuable daylight and rain to stimulate the crops.   Of course early man could not pop down to his local garden shop to purchase a spade or other suitable implement to enable him to carry out simple cultivations.   This fledgling gardener would have probably relied upon a suitably fashioned ‘digging stick’ which he found in the woods, or perhaps an animal bone which could be used to stir up the soil to produce a tilth suitable for planting grains or other seeds.

Once our hero had a crop growing away, he  would have found a lot of competition from what we now call weeds, and he would then have devised implements with a sharpened edge, either fashioned from flint or other hard stone and of course later from iron, for cutting down the weeds and suckers shooting up among his prized crop.

By now the ‘digging stick’ was probably superseded by some other kind of tool resembling a hoe or mattock  for chopping into the earth far more effectively than his old ‘digging stick’.

The identification of of the original manufacturer of the spade as we know it, has been lost in the mists of time ( No his initials were not B&Q!!)  from the earliest simple spades a wide range of shapes and sizes have been developed for carrying out specific tasks in the garden and on the farm.    Sadly a lot of these old designs are no longer produced due mainly to lack of demand in these days of mini-diggers and garden cultivators.  If you had very heavy soil you could choose a clay spade  that had a zig zag edge to the blade or a drainage spade or graft, which was very long and narrow to enable narrow trenches to be dug for laying tile drains, many other spades were designed for specific duties and to suit local conditions in various parts of the country.  many of these are rare items today as they were only produced in limited numbers to satisfy local gardeners,farmers etc.

A fork is just as important to most gardeners, the first forks were probably literally forked sticks or branches, which could be used to gather up and carry grass and other crops for the livestock.

Pitchforks would have been fitted with longer handles, for tossing sheaves of corn up on to a stack, before the days of  elevators and combine harvesters, by which time stacks had become obsolete .

There are probably many more types of fork available than there are spades.   A digging fork is a strong fork normally with 4 tines or speens, for turning over rough land, a smaller lighter version is known as a border or ladies fork, dung forks or stable forks have thin curved tines with pointed ends, these are used for handling manure etc and for ‘mucking out’ stables and cattle byres, some of these forks were made with 5 tines and either long or short handles.

Well!  it looks as though the rain has stopped at last, but the ground is still too waterlogged to even contemplate getting my tools out of the shed.  Maybe I will try to catch up a bit after a few dry days by using a mechanical assistant,  more about that another time.

Happy gardening.

Old Gumboot


Greetings Cards

Greeting Cards

Regeneration Group Greeting Cards

Bee Friendly Carmarthen

We are launching a new project to make Carmarthen an official Bee Friendly town.

In September the Welsh Government launched a new nationwide scheme for towns, communities, schools, businesses, universities, public bodies and places of worship to encourage action around pollinators under the title Bee Friendly / Caru Gwenyn (http://www.biodiversitywales.org.uk/Wales-Action-Plan-for-Pollinators )

We would like to make Carmarthen  one of the first towns in Wales to be an official ‘Bee Friendly’ town,  so we are launching this new project with a special film showing a talk by Friends of the Earth bee campaigner Bleddyn Lake.

If you would like to get involved with Bee Friendly Carmarthen please do join us :

7pm Wednesday, November 2nd

Carmarthen Library

9 St. Peter’s Street,

Carmarthen

SA31 1LN

Terry Howe

Friends of the Earth Cymru

33 Castle Arcade Balcony

Cardiff

Wales

CF10 1BY

Tel 029 2022 9577

E-mail  terry.howe@foe.co.uk

http://www.foecymru.co.uk

The Four Goals for Bee Friendly are:

1. Food–providing pollinator-friendly food sources in your area

2. Five Star accommodation–providing places for insect pollinators to live

3. Freedom from pesticides and herbicides – committing to avoid chemicals that harm pollinators

4. Fun–involving all the community and telling people why you are helping pollinators.

Letters to the Editor

October 2016

Sir

I would like to say what a wonderful day we all had on Carnival Saturday. The sun shone all day, it was warm and relatively wind free; the crowds were generous with their money and everyone was very happy with the new Carnival Committee.

There were five floats plus plenty of attractions in the stalls arranged around the field. It was a really good effort and next year is bound to be even better.

I know I am a bit late but I do want to say “Congratulations” all round!!

Sincerely Stuart Wilson, (Cwmgwen, Dolgran Road, Pencader)

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December 2015

Dear Editor,

With reference to the sentiments voiced in the ‘Parish Pump’ section of Clecs, I have to agree with the writer that “Speed Kills” this has been proven beyond doubt on several occasions in recent months on the A485 between ‘Windy Corner’ and Carmarthen. I too have taken part in various forms of motor sport over the years, but fortunately have managed to curb my enthusiasm when on the public highway.

If some of these ‘speedsters’ were to leave for work 10 minutes earlier, they would be able to drive at a more sensible pace, arrive feeling less stressed, and in time to enjoy a cuppa before starting their work. I think this would be preferable to spending time in A&E or even worse!!

Maybe the ‘speedwatch’ initiative being introduced by the local police and community volunteers will have some effect.

Drive safely,

Concerned motorist

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Dear Editor,

I am writing in reply to a couple of issues that have been mentioned in the last issue. The first is speeding…if a car is going through the village at 50 mph it has either slowed down or is speeding up. Either way that same car on the roads outside of the village will have been going really fast.

I live near to Windy Corner and on quiet evenings and early mornings I can actually hear some of the cars and motorbikes accelerating as they exit the village and when they pass my gate they have to be travelling in excess of 80mph. Obviously the 50mph speed limit has had no affect on these individuals.

Even at busier times of day living on the outskirts we have to contend with other issues, one of the main being slow moving, heavy vehicles followed by frustrated drivers just itching to overtake, which they do without safety in mind. Are they doing 50mph when they overtake.. not a chance.

The Windy Corner end of the B4459 has now become somewhat of an accident zone with the Air Ambulance having to attend three accidents in the last 12 months, a couple of which had fatalities.

Driver impatience took the mirror off my neighbours parked car. You measure that distance and see how close the car actually skimmed past him, frightening.

People keep requesting a footpath between the village and Tremle House because of the increased traffic flow but these same pedestrians do not help themselves. I often drive from my home into the village and I see walkers on the wrong side of the road. The majority are wearing dull colours so they blend in with the foliage.

Perhaps it is a new ploy…I cannot be seen therefore I cannot be run over! It is a very dangerous practice. I have to date only ever seen one woman wearing a fluorescent jacket walking down that stretch of road and as it was intended, she stuck out like a sore thumb. With the nights drawing in and afternoons being dull, fluorescent jackets or safety vests are really something every pedestrian should have and wear. You can buy them cheaply now from many places.

The council could replace 5o benches in the village and that would not even come close to the cost of widening the bridge, something that they should have done when they rebuilt it and something that will need to be done to create a footpath. All councils are crafty in the way they operate. As I said, they had the opportunity to widen the bridge but did not.. why not? The bench replacement…it was nowhere near the cost of putting down a pavement but it could have lowered the spendable budget just enough to make the footpath unaffordable! You know how they work, if something is going to cost them £50 they will not start the work with only £49 to spend so by simply not spending £1 they save £49. I do not know what is in the coffers but I do know that swapping the benches would have certainly have dropped that amount. By enough to stop a footpath being built…your guess is as good as mine.

They installed a zebra crossing situated in the wrong location. It is hardly ever used where it is but if had it have been situated further into the village, perhaps by the small telephone exchange, it would have been in an ideal location for pedestrians However locating it where it was needed would have robbed it of the councils intended purpose. Installing a pedestrian crossing made them look as though they were providing for pedestrian safety but actually its purpose would have been to slow down incoming traffic. Putting it where it was needed and would be used, deeper into the village would have left the Maescader entrance exposed and more dangerous to exit. It is a practice not only done by our council but by many others…for them it is a two for one situation…make themselves look good in the public eye but really they are just meeting their own agenda.

These are my own opinions and assumptions, I have no factual evidence except using my own eyes and brain but after reading this letter I think that more people will see the light and realise how they are being ‘conned’.

Bryan C Perks, Pencader

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Letters are welcomed on any topic of local interest. They will be printed in the language in which they are written. The right is reserved to edit or decline to publish any letter. Please be concise and supply your name and address.

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 October 2015

To the Chair Person of local Parish Council        

Dear Editor,

I am writing a letter to inquire what prompted the Council to dispose of perfectly good quality benches and replace them with new benches. We had the original benches for years and they only needed a fresh coat of good quality paint that would have made them last for many more years. I inquired what they were going to do with the benches and was told that were going to be given to the surrounding football fields and parks. The majority of local people are deeply disappointed as this money should have been spent for a pavement as many local carers are risking their lives with traffic, please note that these carers are dedicated to caring for our local senior citizens that live in Tremle House.

Yours truly

                           Liz Beynon

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Dear Editor,

Innocent Knitted Hat Campaign

So far over 300 hats have been knitted for the Age Cymru campaign. Many thanks to knitters, Gillian, Mrs. Griffiths, Joan, Catherine, Carol, Maisie and those people who have left packets of hats on my doorstep!!

I have yarn if anyone wants to have a go with the hat pattern below. There is no closing date, just keep knitting!!!!

Using 4mm ( No. 8 ) needles and any DK yarn -

Cast on 28 sts; knit 2 rows; starting with a knit row, work in stocking stitch for 12 more rows. Row 15: knit 2 tog. to end of row (14 sts); Row 16: purl 2 tog. to end of row (7 sts). Cut yarn leaving say 25cms. Thread the yarn through the 7 sts and remove from knitting needle. Tighten the yarn and sew the little hat together along the side seams. Once sewn, turn inside out.

Approximate measurements are 5 – 7cms along the bottom and at least 3cms high.

Frances Fuller

01559 384499

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Letters are welcomed on any topic of local interest. They will be printed in the language in which they are written. The right is reserved to edit or decline to publish any letter. Please be concise and supply your name and address.

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April 2015

Too Trusting                            

Dear Editor,

At 4pm on the 30th of January I was driving along the hill top road that the old Dragon Concrete works used to be on. The majority of it being single lane you do encounter other traffic and have to give way, sometimes reversing to a lay-by. This happened to me but unfortunately, as I pulled out of the lay-by, I found that I had a flat tyre. I reversed back to a safer spot and then tried to use a can of ‘Instant fix’ repair. No joy. Thinking that it might have done the job but not blown the tyre up I flagged down several people and asked if they carried a foot pump. I had a spare but was not well enough to fit it myself so in the end I called out the recovery people. While waiting for them to arrive, one person who I had spoken to earlier actually returned and offered to change the wheel for me but I explained the AA were on their way and he left. There are two points to this story: the first is to thank those who did stop and especially the fellow that returned. The second point is a bit more of a warning. In Wales, especially in this area, people are friendly, helpful and trusting, and it is the trusting bit that worries me. I am in effect a stranger standing in the middle of a very quiet lane, just before dusk, waving at the odd car when a young lady pulls up in her works van. We spoke through her wound down window and then without hesitation she jumps out, opens the van, a rental, to see if there was a pump inside. I could have been the Yorkshire Ripper for all that she knew but her rural upbringing probably never even made her give such a thing a thought. It is this naivety that worries me. In any city or big town in the country, with people and cars everywhere, the most that I would expect would be to talk to a driver through a small gap in the window, and even if they could help, they would probably refuse to. This is because those city dwellers are knowledgeable of the risks they are exposed to daily. All I am asking is that people in our area be aware, never put yourself in a situation where you could be at risk, no need to worry all the time but just think twice and ask yourself this question before you act…”Am I putting myself at risk?” This applies to everything from stopping for a stranger to simply opening your front door.

Regards,

Bryan Perks

Pencader

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Letters are welcomed on any topic of local interest. They will be printed in the language in which they are written. The right is reserved to edit or decline to publish any letter. Please be concise and supply your name and address.

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

December 2014
Cais am gymorth

Annwyl Olygydd,

Sgwn i a fyddech yn gallu fy helpu. Hoffwn i blant a myfyrwyr Ysgol Gymraeg yr Andes Trevelin ac Esquel ddod i adnabod pentrefi, trefi a dinasoedd Cymru yn well, ac felly buaswn wrth fy modd petai pobl Cymru – unrhyw un sydd â diddordeb – yn anfon cerdyn post atom ni o lle maen nhw’n byw yn cynnwys ambell i frawddeg fach am y lle dan sylw. Gallwch eu postio i Ysgol Gymraeg Esquel, i Ysgol Gymraeg Trevelin, neu’r ddau os ydych chi’n dymuno.

Dyma’r cyfeiriadau:

Ysgol Gymraeg yr Andes Esquel,               Ysgol Gymraeg yr Andes Trevelin,

Centros Galeses de la Cordillera,              Casa de la Capilla Bethel,

Rivadavia 1065,                                         Trevelin 9203,

Esquel 9200,                                              Chubut,

 Chubut,                                                     Patagonia

Patagonia,                                                  Argentina

Argentina

Diolch

Denise Davies

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Letters are welcomed on any topic of local interest. They will be printed in the language in which they are written. The right is reserved to edit or decline to publish any letter. Please be concise and supply your name and address.

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