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Choosing plants

Discussion in 'NEW Gardeners !' started by Amy Willshire, Aug 10, 2018.

  1. Amy Willshire

    Amy Willshire Apprentice Gardener

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    I have a large area at the bottom of my garden which is just nettles. We keep trying to cut it down, dig them out and cover it over but they just grow back time and time again.

    When I thought "wild flower meadow" instead of lawn, nettle thicket was not really what I had in mind.

    I would like to plant something else (or rather many other something else's) over that area. It needs to be something which will compete with nettle regrowth and needs to be good for bees and other pollinators. Ideally would also provide a habitat for other wildlife such as birds and hedgehogs.

    I'm thinking maybe things like Buddleia by the fence, lavender in the middle, layering down to smaller ground cover plants near the front with some different plants in between to add contrast. I'm not fixed on any of those specifically, just as a general idea for what I had in mind.

    Ideally plants which will grow a bit wild and don't need too much tending.

    Thanks
     
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    • Tetters

      Tetters Gardener

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      There are two good points to make here Amy. Nettles are a sign that your soil is really good -for one, and secondly, much wildlife can use nettles, and they are favourite for all sorts of egg laying activity. They are quite shallow rooted plants, and a stout pair of gloves and constant removal will thin them out a bit to make room for other stuff. Cutting back is 'pruning' which in turn helps regrowth :)
       
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      • Amy Willshire

        Amy Willshire Apprentice Gardener

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        Yes - this is part of the problem - I have good soil and nettles, I waned wildflowers, mostly the wild flowers wanted poor soil so they didn't take very well and the nettles came back.

        I don't mind keeping some nettles - they are also great for making nettle fertiliser. They have just been rather taking over and make it difficult to get to the hedges we have planted.

        That will explain some of the taking over then.
         
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        • Tetters

          Tetters Gardener

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          It might be a good idea to post some photos of your gardening space to give us a general idea.
          A pond is always a good thing to start with - where there`s water, there`s life, and some of that good soil could be set aside for other projects. Shade and sun will be important when it comes to planting too. Patience though is the most important ingredient......you`ll get there :old:
           
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          • Gail_68

            Gail_68 Guest

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            Hi @Amy Willshire are they stinging nettles because if so you can actually eat them being as you keep removing it to keep it low :)


            We all know what the stinging nettle looks (and feels) like - but for some it might come as a surprise that the sharp stingers are edible too.

            You've all heard of nettle soup, right? Well that's a thing and you can chow down on some common nettles any time you like.

            What's in it for me?

            Nettles have been used for hundreds of years to treat a number of ailments, from painful muscles and joints to eczema, arthritis, gout and anemia.

            The edible parts are the leaves, stems and roots. For nicest results, you're best off picking up some young leaves, but it's important to remember that whatever age the nettle leaf you pick up is, until it is dried or cooked through, the stinging hairs will still be active - so don't eat them raw.

            Where can I find it?

            Almost anywhere, but it prefers a rich soil and so you're more likely to find it around human settlements. In the later summer months, shadowy glades and tracks will be an excellent source of young plants, which are ideal for eating.

            What can I make with it?

            Nettles works as a good substitute for spinach, and can be used to make nettle soup and nettle pesto.

            If you're feeling particularly ambitious, nettle beer can be brewed from the young shoots, and nettle tea can be made from the root to help urinary problems. This tea is rich in iron, and vitamin C, and can help the formation of hemoglobin.
             
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            • Mike Allen

              Mike Allen Gardener

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              Interesting thread. Yes the soil is very good, as it is so rich in nutrients, ideal for seed sowing. As mentioned, cutting down only encourages more growth. New growth is added to by self seeding but mainly by the underground rhizomes, these are the thicker usually white roots that grow out from the clump of finer roots. Their job is to venture out and establish away from the parent plant. This also happens with couch grass, ground elder, bindweed and others.
              When attempting to dig out nettles, it is fairly easy as the soil is fine and loose and the roots usually are quite shallow. The problem is, usually bits of the rhizomes break off and remain in the soil. This is where your new flush of growth will come from. Forget digging out and covering the area. These rhizomes will travel great distances underground, under concrete paths etc until they can break through the surface, then they grow very fast and establish new clumps.
              Tip. Dig out what you can, then wait. In time new growth will begin to appear, these can easily be dug or pulled out. This may take several attempts, but each time the new growth is decreasing making your task much easier. Hope this helps.
               
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              • Amy Willshire

                Amy Willshire Apprentice Gardener

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                20180811_083346.jpg
                That is the garden. Pink is where the nettles grow. Hedge in back left corner but plans to extend to replace whole back fence.

                There are 5 fruit trees mid left.

                Foregroind left (just after patio) is an attempt at raised beds which I hope to rebuild before next year.

                Like the pond idea, plan to put one in part if this pink area as I love a good frog pond - it was the joy of my childhood garden.
                 
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                • Selleri

                  Selleri Gardener

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                  Hi Amy,
                  you must have a pond! With a bit of digging and finding the liner you can get it done this weekend. Race you! :snorky: (I'm a cheat, mine is already half dug....)

                  Just imagine, a nice pond with a waterlily or two, lush planting around it and a bench by the tree on the left. :)

                  pondplace.JPG

                  For taller plants close to the borders, Rosa Rugosa and wild roses are great for birds and would probably thrive in rich soil.

                  If you hand pick (with gloves :biggrin:) the younger leaves of the nettles you can freeze them and use like spinach. Freezing takes the sting off. Perfect with pasta, just throw a handful on nearly done pancetta/ bacon on a large pan, let it wilt a bit and mix with pasta. Serve with chunks of mozzarella. Sorry, digressing :redface:

                  You have a brilliant space, it will be a haven for the wildlife and you :)

                  :sign0016:
                   
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                  • Amy Willshire

                    Amy Willshire Apprentice Gardener

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                    Oh a race. I like a little bit of competitive action.

                    Will definetely try the spinach freezing. No Bacon for me though. Also love the pesto suggestion.

                    Thanks for the plant tips too
                     
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                    • Tetters

                      Tetters Gardener

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                      It looks to me like there was a pond there previously, which could well be the reason the nettles are there, they would appreciate the resulting soil.
                      I think that before you go out spending money on plants, it might be a good idea to cut back and tidy up what you have now, and make a start on the pond first.
                      Is there really any need to raise the beds? It would be easier just to clear and dig over the soil in preparation.....
                      Once the pond is there, you will start to see a picture forming - stand back and admire the bit you`ve done, and work out from that point.
                      It can be a mistake to try and visualise the whole process in one go. :)
                       
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                      • Amy Willshire

                        Amy Willshire Apprentice Gardener

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                        [QUOTE="Tetters, post: 1170057, member: 20037"Is there really any need to raise the beds?[/QUOTE]

                        Thank you, great advice. The raised beds are not in the pink area, the bushy plant on the bottom left is a fruit bush growing by the perimeter of the raised beds we have already built. It's not on this months to do list but I'd like to rethink before next spring as I uncleverly made the beds triangular around a diamond which really cuts down planting areas.
                        :)
                         
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                        • Tetters

                          Tetters Gardener

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                          I realise the pink area is where the nettles are, and that would be where the pond would sit nicely.
                          It would be so much easier for you if you clear the whole area first before building anything as it would all seem less muddled.
                           
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                          • Sienna's Blossom

                            Sienna's Blossom Super Gardener

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                            What a lovely garden you're going to have there, and the pond will be great for wildlife.

                            Plant ideas that will provide habitats for wildlife and be good for bees could be Berberis Darwinii, lovely flowers for bees followed by berries, with dense and prickly foliage to provide safe nesting spaces for birds.

                            Love your idea about buddleia, a definite favourite of bees and butterflies.

                            Good ground cover could be hardy geraniums, another favourite for the pollinators.

                            Hedgehogs particularly like nesting in pampas grasses, I think a nice ornamental grass could look really nice behind the pond, and would also provide shelter for frogs/toads.

                            It looks like it will be a haven for wildlife. Enjoy it!
                             
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