How does your garden grow?

I'm on a voyage of discovery in my first garden.
It's mostly about the veggies at the moment but I'm also discovering lots about flowers and other plants - quite often the hard way and always on a very tight budget.
But this blog is not just about my garden, it's about all the things I see and discover in Sussex and beyond and I would love to hear from you too.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Lace bugs on pieris japonica

After admiring my mother's pieris japonica shrub, I was kindly donated one which appeared to be suffering from an unidentified pest.
I know several of the shrubs from a neighbouring garden had to be removed with a similar problem. The leaves turn black and blotchy underneath and eventually the whole plant is affected.
Trawling the internet, I found a number of sites saying this type of pieris is susceptible to andromeda lace bugs.
The bugs aren't visible to the naked eye so I took a close up picture of some dead bugs on my shrub and magnified it in Photoshop (left). It more or less confirmed my suspicions.
I found a really useful piece on the Conneticut University website about the bugs which explains aggravating causes and treatment.
I am, however, wondering whether to look a gift horse in the mouth on this occasion and turn down the free plant for my garden in case the bugs could spread to other things.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Controlling bamboo

Today is the first dry day in a while and my only day off work this week so I'm grabbing the opportunity to cut back the bamboo which is taking over the corner of my garden and next door's hedge.
When we arrived a few months ago, it provided a useful screen for the compost heap and gave us a good supply of canes to use around the garden but it is so vigorous, I have not spent enough time trying to contain it and now our neighbour's hedge is starting to suffer.
I read a guide to controlling bamboo which recommends cutting into the soil with a straight bladed shovel, therefore severing the sprawling shoots to stop it from spreading.
Using this method, it says, this year's shoots should die off but previous year's growth could survive so the roots should be dug out.
In my case, I doubt digging around the plant would be successful because the shoots are large and too close to the hedge. The best plan, I think, is to chop it down, dig it out and put something else in its place.
I thought the cutting down part would be a simple task, but I'm taking time out to write this because I am less than half way through and already aching.
I'm dreading digging up the roots. Perhaps that's a job for another day.
Some of the foliage is over 10ft high so I should have a fair number of canes to store in the shed ready for the spring.
Anyway... tea break over... back to the garden.