How to deal with winter damage to shrubs….

Here in the South East (of England), we’re assessing the winter damage to our gardens.

The real problems weren’t caused by the snow, freezing winds or low temperatures of late February.

Winter damage in lavender

Snow and ice in early March here in the Middlesized Garden. It followed a period of warm weather, when this lavender sent up tiny new shoots.

Lucy Adams, Head Gardener of Doddington Place Gardens, told me that the real issue was the week of warm weather at the beginning of March, just before low temperatures, snow, ice and wind returned.  Sap started rising and shrubs started budding.

When the bad weather hit, the plants were much more vulnerable than they would have been a month earlier. ‘The temperature here at Doddington suddenly went down to minus 14 (centigrade),’ she says. It had been around nine or ten degrees the week before.

What does winter damage look like?

My lavender had tiny buds on it. Many of these look burnt. And almost all the leaves have fallen off my privet hedge.

Lavender with snow damage

Much of the new growth looks blackened or burnt. But I can see the odd pale blue bud!

So I went to Doddington Place Gardens to ask Lucy what I should do about my winter damage.

‘I’ve never before seen such a wide range of shrubs and trees affected,’ she said. ‘We’ve got leaf drop and scorched leaves on pittosporum, ceanothus, euphorbia, crinodendron, griselinia and eucalyptus.

Griselinia affected by winter damage

A griselinia affected by winter damage at Doddington Place Gardens

What do about winter damage to shrubs?

Lucy’s advice is to ‘wait and see.’ Patience is the key, because some winter-damaged shrubs will grow back but there’s not a great deal you can do to encourage them.

She advises you to clear weeds around the roots, so that shrubs aren’t having to compete for nutrition. ‘A layer of mulch will probably help, too.’ She doesn’t think high dosage fertilisers will necessarily help, but a few inches of garden compost, well-rotted manure or mushroom compost is a good idea.

Should you cut off the damaged shoots?

Lucy says that if you prune back the damaged part of the plant, you may shock it too much. ‘Wait until it’s the normal time to prune that plant,’ she advises. There is a ceanothus at Doddington which has one side burnt by freezing wind, while the other side is fine. Lucy is going to see whether the damaged part will re-grow. She may cut that part back – right down to the ground – but not until she’s waited to see whether it bounces back and pushes up new shoots.

So no pruning until the appropriate time! However much you long to ‘tidy the plant up.’

Good signs…

Lucy is particularly concerned about a very large pittosporum which dominates a border at Doddington. She doesn’t want to hurry any decision to take it out, although it does look very scorched. It would leave a very large gap in the border.

Pittosporum with winter damage

This is a large mature pittosporum that has undoubtedly survived worse winters. Has it survived this one?

But she is encouraged by ‘the scratch test’. Scratch away a little bit of bark with your finger or a knife. If there’s green underneath, then the plant is still alive. There is green under the bark of the pittosporum.

You can see Matt Jackson going into more detail about this test here in this video:

And if the shrub has died?

There is a stripey variegated euphorbia at Doddington Place. It’s looking very sick. Lucy doesn’t hold out much hope for it, because variegated euphorbias are more tender than the plain green ones. ‘I’m going to wait and see if it pushes out new growth at its base,’ she says. ‘But if it doesn’t, I’ll take it out.’

Euphorbia with winter damage

Not a happy euphorbia! Nice garden wall in the background, though.

It’s usually wisest not to plant the same variety of shrub in a spot where a previous one has died. So I asked Lucy if she’d be able to plant another variegated euphorbia there. ‘A plant that’s died of bad weather probably hasn’t been affected by fungus in the soil,’ she says. ‘So you can usually plant another of the same variety there.’

So to sum up…

‘Just watch and wait.’ That’s my favourite kind of gardening advice. It’s ‘no-effort’ and doesn’t cost anything.

Daffodils at Doddington Place

The Millenium obelisk sculpture at Doddington Place with daffodils, out in March and April.

Doddington Place Gardens, near Faversham, Kent, is open to the public on Wednesdays and Saturdays 11am-5pm between 1st of April and 30th of September. And you can read its very interesting garden blog. Finally, here are a few photos to show that most of Doddington Place Gardens has bounced back beautifully.

Magnolia at Doddington Place

This magnolia seems to be unaffected by any kind of winter damage.

Sunk Garden at Doddington Place in late March

Brooding skies over the romantic Sunk Garden at Doddington Place in late March.

There’s more Doddington Place and an interview with Lucy here in this video:

Pin for reference:

What to do when your shrubs and trees have winter damage

 

The post How to deal with winter damage to shrubs…. appeared first on The Middle-Sized Garden.

from The Middle-Sized Garden http://www.themiddlesizedgarden.co.uk/deal-winter-damage-shrubs/

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Challenge: Find a member of the borage family

The challenge from #wildflowerhour this week is to find a member of the Borage family.

The Boraginaceae are characterised by having hairy or bristly-stems. An exception to this being the uncommon Oysterplant, Mertensia maritima, which is hairless.

The leaves are arranged alternately up the stem. The distinctive pink/blue five-petalled flowers usually have five stamens and are arranged in a curved or forked cyme which resembles a fiddle-neck.

This can be seen clearly in the image below of Viper’s-bugloss, Echium vulgare, as can the characteristic of the flowers opening at the base of the cyme and finishing at the terminal flower bud.

Like the Deadnettle family, the Borage family has fruits comprised of four nutlets. However as mentioned earlier the leaves in the Boraginaceae are arranged alternately whilst in the Laminaceae they are opposite.

Examples of the Boraginaceae family which flower in the spring include Lungwort, Pulmonaria officinalis. This lovely example was photographed by wildflowerhour member @sconzani

Green Alkanet, Pentaglottis sempervirens pictured below can also be found flowering early in the year.

As can some of the forget-me-not’s. The image below is Water Forget-me-not, Myosotis scorpioides.

Some other members of the Boraginaceae to look out for later in the season, include Comfrey, Borage, Hound’s Tongue,  the Gromwell’s and the rare Common Fiddleneck, which unusually for this family has yellow flowers.

Post your planty pics for #wildflowerhour on Sunday 1st April between 8-9pm on Twitter, Instagram or in our Facebook group using the hashtag #boragechallenge.

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from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2018/03/27/challenge-find-a-member-of-the-borage-family/

Look at the leaves-the highlights

Thank you for taking part in this week’s #wildflowerhour challenge which was to #lookattheleaves.

We laid down the gauntlet and asked you to describe the leaf shape of the wildflowers that you found.

As ever you rose wonderfully to the challenge.

Our featured image is a wonderful Pulmonaria from @sconzani with its gloriously spotted oval-cordate leaves.

A highlight, the beautiful, almost circular leaves of Sweet Violet, Viola odorata from @moiravelli with a cordate (heart-shaped) leaf base.

The lovely leaves of the Wood Anemone, Anemone nemerosa from @LACrawshaw which are palmately-lobed and arranged in whorls.

You can see the rest of your wonderful #lookattheleaves finds below. Thank you all so much for taking part.

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from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2018/03/25/look-at-the-leaves-the-highlights/

25 March

Well done to everyone who took part in tonight’s #wildflowerhour! So many wonderful plants and a lovely sense of community, with people helping one another out.

Tonight’s star image comes from the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust:

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Remember that we support and work with the Wildlife Trusts, BSBI, the Wild Flower Society, the Species Recovery Trust and Plantlife. Plantlife have a special offer for #wildflowerhour members: a 50% discount on annual membership. Just use the code WFHOUR when you check out here.

Here are the highlights from tonight’s #wildflowerhour on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook:

<blockquote class=”instagram-media” data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-permalink=”https://www.instagram.com/p/Bgj1zutAduj/&#8221; data-instgrm-version=”8″ style=” background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% – 2px); width:calc(100% – 2px);”>

<p style=” margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;”> <a href=”https://www.instagram.com/p/Bgj1zutAduj/&#8221; style=” color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;” target=”_blank”>The glorious and very rare Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem this morning in Norfolk. #wildflowerhour #breckland</a></p> <p style=” color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;”>A post shared by <a href=”https://www.instagram.com/jlowenwildlife/&#8221; style=” color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px;” target=”_blank”> James Lowen Wildlife</a> (@jlowenwildlife) on <time style=” font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;” datetime=”2018-03-20T21:24:28+00:00″>Mar 20, 2018 at 2:24pm PDT</time></p></div></blockquote> http://”//www.instagram.com/embed.js”

 

<blockquote class=”instagram-media” data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-permalink=”https://www.instagram.com/p/Bgrqee5nscc/&#8221; data-instgrm-version=”8″ style=” background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% – 2px); width:calc(100% – 2px);”>

<p style=” margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;”> <a href=”https://www.instagram.com/p/Bgrqee5nscc/&#8221; style=” color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;” target=”_blank”>Hazel catkins. . I’ve posted a few bird pics recently so here’s a plant pic. . These are the male flowers of the Hazel that disperse their pollen by just letting it go with the wind.</a></p> <p style=” color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;”>A post shared by <a href=”https://www.instagram.com/gus_routledge/&#8221; style=” color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px;” target=”_blank”> Gus Routledge</a> (@gus_routledge) on <time style=” font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;” datetime=”2018-03-23T22:19:22+00:00″>Mar 23, 2018 at 3:19pm PDT</time></p></div></blockquote> http://”//www.instagram.com/embed.js”

<a class=”twitter-grid” data-limit=”50″ href=”https://twitter.com/wildflower_hour/timelines/977998880171286528?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw“>25 March</a> http://”a

7 minutes ago

Julie Kenshole

Flowers of the week are pineapple weed and squill (tucked into a drystone wall on the dales) and for the leaf challenge, himalayan balsam, mallow and willowherb See MoreSee Less

25 minutes ago

Car K Stanley

A few for #wildflowerhour this week plus the #lookattheleaveschallenge See MoreSee Less

22 minutes ago

Jenny Turtle

Common dog violet – I think – by the path in Woodbridge Suffolk today for #wildflowerhour #lookattheleaves See MoreSee Less

Common dog violet - I think - by the path in Woodbridge Suffolk today for #wildflowerhour #lookattheleaves

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from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2018/03/25/25-march/

Podcast: Make your own wild flower meadow

Our latest podcast is live! In this episode of the Wild Flower (Half) Hour, Isabel Hardman interviews Peter Creed from NatureBureau about his love of small, overlooked plants, learns how to make a wild flower meadow in your back garden from Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Neil Harnott, and hears from Kevin Widdowson about how to identify the flowers in our latest #wildflowerhour challenge:

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You can listen to this podcast on iTunesAcastStitcherSpotify and all other good podcast platforms. Just let us know if it doesn’t turn up on yours and we’ll add our feed. Please also considering leaving a review of the show as it helps other people find it more easily which means that more people will learn about how amazing the native flowers of Britain and Ireland really are.

from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2018/03/25/podcast-make-your-own-wild-flower-meadow/

Tree Surgeon, Arborist or Chain Saw Man? Why You Need to Know…

I didn’t know the difference between a tree surgeon, an arborist (also known as an arboriculturalist) and a Chain Saw Man when we first moved into a garden with trees.

First, we got the trees cut by a man with a chain saw who told us he knew all about trees. He clearly didn’t, and chopped the branches off half-way along their length.

By the following summer, they’d sprouted in an ugly pattern around where he’d cut. The tree started to look like a lump of branches and foliage rather than a beautiful tree.

Tree surgeon or arborist?

My favourite picture of our Robinia frisia. It’s only ever been lightly pruned to remove dead branches. I think it is a beautiful ‘tree shape.’

Qualified tree surgeons…

Then we started using qualified tree surgeons. The results were better, but variable. I hadn’t heard the word ‘arborist’ or ‘aboriculturalist’ at this stage. So, believing a tree surgeon to be a tree expert, I asked for advice on what trees to plant.

That was a mistake. I asked for a fast-growing evergreen recommendation to block an ugly street lamp and he supplied a Liquidambar and a rowan. They’re beautiful trees but just not what I wanted in that spot. They’ve also been very slow-growing. That’s not surprising as I don’t think either are in the right position (see the Liquidambar below).

Expert advice from an arborist

The Liquidambar is squashed between the conifer and the magnolia on the advice of a tree surgeon. We wanted a tree that could ultimately replace the conifer in blocking out a street lamp, but that’s not going to happen.

I’ve since puzzled over what the tree surgeon thought I wanted. ‘Evergreen’ and ‘deciduous’ don’t even sound like each other, so surely he didn’t mis-hear? Of course, you might say (with justification) that I should have done my own research. But I thought he was an expert and that I knew nothing.

The first lesson of gardening

This brings me to the first lesson of happy gardening which is that even if you know nothing about gardening, you are an expert about your own garden. Only you can know exactly what you want and why. So if an ‘expert’ doesn’t seem to make sense, question it. He or she may not have understood what you’ve asked for.

And don’t be afraid of asking ‘silly questions.’ We all know different things. You’re entitled not to know what you don’t know.

Of course, what I really needed was an arborist/arboriculturalist or advice from a tree nursery. I like both trees, but I don’t think they’re in the best place for either their growing conditions or for the garden as a whole.

So what’s the difference between a tree surgeon and an arborist?

I asked Matt Jackson of Land & Heritage to explain. Matt is a garden consultant, qualified arborist and advises on both domestic gardens and large estates.  ‘Arboriculture goes beyond knowing how to prune trees and cut them down. An arborist or arboriculturalist is trained to understand the mechanics and biology of a tree, and everything that’s going on within it. He or she will be able to give you a detailed assessment of its health, vitality and safety. Whereas a tree surgeon’s job is prune or cut down trees.’

Some (less polite) arborists say that tree surgeons prune branches off trees but don’t know why they’re doing it or what effect it’ll have on the tree. However, many tree surgeons do also have arboricultural qualifications. There are tree surgeons as well as arborists on the Arboricultural Association’s website.

‘Tree surgeons haven’t always been trained in tree diseases,’ adds Matt. ‘You need an arborist rather than a tree surgeon if you want advice on the health of your trees.’

Common tree health symptoms

Matt says that, as a homeowner, you’re in the best position to observe whether your tree is healthy or not. ‘Look at how your tree performs during the year,’ he advises. ‘Is the crown (the leaf canopy) thinning? Is it dropping its leaves earlier than usual? Are there whole section which are dead?

Diagnose tree health problems online

Our Cotinus suddenly died on the right hand side in 2016.

In autumn, fungus fruiting is a sign that something’s wrong with the tree. Holes, splits, cracks and oozing at any time of year are also all warning signs.

Matt also thinks that it’s worth doing a certain amount of self-diagnosis. ‘There’s so much help online – for example, on the RHS website. If you know what the tree is, look up the symptoms and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what’s wrong with your tree. You can find photographs, diagrams and videos.’

When our Cotinus coggyria ‘Grace’ suddenly died on one side, I consulted the internet, and then an arborist. Together we decided it was verticilium wilt, and that we would first try to keep the tree by cutting away the dead areas.

An arborist will discuss the issues

You have a legal responsibility to keep your trees safe.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean cutting a tree down at the first sign of a problem. Chain Saw Man will suck his back teeth and tell you that tree must come down. A tree surgeon is also likely to advocate pruning or felling it. Only an arborist will give you a balanced view, according to what’s best for the tree and what you want for your garden.

You will have to pay a fee for that advice. But if there’s less tree surgery and felling as a result, you may save money by doing so.

For example, our Cotinus is a major feature in the garden. I really didn’t want to lose it. The official online advice on dealing with verticilium wilt is to slash and burn. Get rid of everything.

But the reality is that once you have something like honey fungus or verticilium wilt in your garden, it’s there for keeps. You manage it by not planting susceptible species.

Cotinus as a tree

Losing the Cotinus (the red-leaved smoke bush) would have made a huge difference to the garden. Seen here in 2015 before it got verticilium wilt.

So we decided to cut away the dead parts and also to thin the rest so that there would be better air circulation. When it was pruned, I could see from the marks in the cut branches (by going on the internet!) that the tree had had bouts of verticilium wilt before. And in the autumn I added a layer of mulch to the soil.

Success…

Last summer there was no sign of the verticilium wilt. This winter we’ve had the Cotinus pruned back to about one third of what it was at its maximum size. I’ve planted another tree nearby in case it does fail, but have chosen one that isn’t vulnerable to the same problems.

Cotinus autumn colour

An apparently healthy Cotinus showing off its autumn colour in 2017. Now I know, however, that it has suffered more than one attack of verticilium wilt.

Is my tree dead or is it just dormant?

And do a few dead branches mean the end of a tree? Matt showed me an easy test to tell whether a tree or branch is really dead. Use a knife to scrape away a small amount of the bark. If the tree is alive, you will see yellow or greenish growth under the bark. But if it is brown and dry, it is dead.

You can see this demonstrated here on a willow tree at Leeds Castle.

How much will an arborist cost?

I can’t find any official figures, but most qualified gardening experts cost around £35 to £50 an hour. Time spent writing up reports, making recommendations and travel should also be counted in. For more about finding the right gardening expert, see my posts on garden appraisals and finding the right gardener for your garden.

I’ve seen tree surgeons quote around £40 an hour or £200 a day per person. They often have to work in teams of two or more, and there’ll be added charges for the use of special equipment.

Fees depend on what part of the country you’re in, so get a few quotes before deciding. Although I’ve often found that if I ring half a dozen companies, only two reply and only one turns up, so comparing quotes isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

Find a professional via the Arboricultural Association.

Matt Jackson can be contacted at Land & Heritage.

Don’t try to cut costs…

Working with trees and power tools is genuinely dangerous, not just for the person up the tree with a chain saw, but also for anyone standing around.

A friend of mine once booked a tree surgeon who failed to turn up, so an unqualified man who’d done some odd jobs for her offered to prune the tree instead. He died falling out of it onto some railings. It really is that dangerous.

Pin for reference:

Why you need to know the difference between an arborist, tree surgeon and a chain saw man

 

 

The post Tree Surgeon, Arborist or Chain Saw Man? Why You Need to Know… appeared first on The Middle-Sized Garden.

from The Middle-Sized Garden http://www.themiddlesizedgarden.co.uk/tree-surgeon-arborist-chain-saw-man-why-you-need-know/

Early orchids

In just a few weeks time now the first of our native orchids will be coming into flower – the long wait is almost over! But which will be first to be found – Early Purple or these, Early Spider Orchids? While they do look (a little) like a spider, it’s bees they’re hoping to attract in order to pollinate them – an act I witnessed on a similar, French, species for the very first time last week. If you fancy seeing Early Spiders, and maybe their attendant bees, you need to head to the south coast. My #OrchidSummer website (www.orchid-summer.com) has some suggestions for sites you could visit. Time to start laying some orchid plans for the coming weeks! #wildflowerhour #orchid #orchids #OrchidSummer #JonDunn #earlyspiderorchid #flowers

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from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2018/03/21/early-orchids/

Challenge: Look at the leaves

As usual for this week we would like you to find wild plants in bloom. However, we would also like you to zoom in and take a close look at the leaves.

Leaves are a vital part of plant identification and they come in many different shapes and sizes!

In botany each distinctive leaf shape has a name. You may find these described in the glossary of a wildflower guide or there maybe a chart displaying the different shapes.

For example the wrinkled leaves of the Common Primrose, Primula vulgaris are obovate to spoon-shaped.

The leaves of the Common Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis are linear.

Whilst those of Cow Parsley, Anthriscus sylvestris are compound and 2-3 times pinnate.

Don’t worry if you manage to find some completely unfathomable leaves. Our lovely wildflowerhour community will be on standby to help.

Some leaves have surprising undersides. So have a good look at what lies beneath and take a pic. Take one of the upper side too!

Also make a note of how the leaves are arranged on the stem. For example are they alternate, opposite, arranged singly or in leaflets.

Post your pics on Twitter, Instagram or in our Facebook group for #wildflowerhour on Sunday 25th March 8-9pm using the hashtag #lookattheleaves.

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from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2018/03/19/challenge-look-at-the-leaves-2/

Podcast: Floodplain meadows

Our latest podcast is live! In this episode, Isabel Hardman finds out about floodplain meadows, and why they are such an important habitat for wild flowers, and hears about the starved wood sedge (and what it is).

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The Species Recovery Trust have agreed to be a #wildflowerhour partner, which means we will work with them and promote their work. They do fantastic work, and it’s not just in saving the Starved Wood Sedge. Here’s their website and here is a factsheet on the Starved Wood Sedge.

The Floodplain Meadows Partnership works to manage, restore and research these habitats and you can read more about their work here. Isabel refers to a tweet by Guardian columnist George Monbiot, which caused some controversy: you should read that thread here.

You can listen to this podcast on iTunesAcastStitcherSpotify and all other good podcast platforms. Just let us know if it doesn’t turn up on yours and we’ll add our feed. Please also considering leaving a review of the show as it helps other people find it more easily which means that more people will learn about how amazing the native flowers of Britain and Ireland really are.

from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2018/03/18/podcast-floodplain-meadows/

Cabbage challenge – the highlights

Thank you for braving the snow and the freezing temperatures to take part in this weeks wildflowerhour #cabbagechallenge.

We asked you to try to find a member of the Brassicaceae or cabbage family.

You found lots of the beautiful and diminutive Erophila verna, now at its peak, this lovely image is by @sarah_lambert7

Another highlight, was this wallflower growing on a cliff-face at Beachy Head found by @DavidBBurbridge.

This week’s star image is this lovely shot of Cardamine pratensis. Perfectly capturing the fragility and grace of this beautiful flower from @palebd.

You can see the rest of #wildflowerhour members lovely #cabbagechallenge finds below. Thank you all so much for taking part.

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from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2018/03/18/cabbage-challenge-the-highlights/