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cyberem78

cyberem78
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Member since: 15.09.2008

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    • Tomatoes / Plant / 1 Reading / 1 Rating
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      29.12.2014 13:28
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      Advantages

      • "Taste good"
      • "Fun to grow"

      Disadvantages

      • "Need warm conditions"

      Enjoy Growing Your Own!

      When I started growing my own vegetables a few years ago I was advised by a friend that tomatoes were one of the easiest things to grow. Well, this may be true if you have a greenhouse or can raise your plants on warm indoor windowsills. Otherwise you usually end up with a lot of green tomatoes which while still can be utilised in their unripe form are probably not what you were hoping for.

      You can buy packets of tomato seeds in different varieties and from different brands. I've most recently grown Alicante and San Marzano tomatoes. Seeds come in a smaller foil pack inside a paper wrapper. Packets are printed with instructions on how to grow and you should maintain this for the season.

      It is advised to sow between January and April. I personally begin my planting in March since I plant most of my plants outdoors and this allows the plant to have grown large enough to be able to plant outdoors when it is warmer in May or June.

      Tomato seeds are tiny little flecks so when you sow them you tend to have several seedlings come up. You need to discard any smaller, weaker shoots and then separate the seedlings so that they have their own little pot. Place these in a warm windowsill and water occasionally.

      When plants start to grow tall they will need a support pole since their vines are quite soft and can bend easily. This may be a required step before you even plant them outdoors. Plants can be transferred outdoors into individual large pots, growing bags or into the ground direct. You should acclimatise plants first by leaving them out in the day time and bringing indoors at night for a week. Be careful there are no heavy winds or late frosts when you plant.

      My tomato plants always grow to at least 3ft and they often need multiple support poles around their structure. They have quite droopy branches. The plants develop small yellow flowers after which the fruit will develop in bunches rather like grapes. The branches can be quite weighty so you may need to tie branches up for support.

      An important growing tip is to remove any 'side shoots' and new growth when they appear as they can draw nutrients away from the growing fruit. They can usually be spotted underneath yielding branches.

      My tomato plants always develop a lot of fruit but as mentioned if you don't grow in very warm conditions many of the fruit fails to fully ripen and tends to be small. I tend to make a lot of green tomato jam and chutney and also cook fried spicy green tomatoes which are delicious!

      I would recommend growing tomatoes to anyone although you will have better results using a greenhouse or large cloche. However, home grown tomatoes taste wonderful and you can really detect the difference between them and shop bought fruits.

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    • Daffodil / Plant / 4 Readings / 4 Ratings
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      28.12.2014 15:56
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      Advantages

      • "Sign of Spring"
      • Cheerful
      • Pretty

      Disadvantages

      • "Can snap easily"

      A Host Of Golden Daffodils!

      Daffodils are a flower that is associated with Springtime in the UK. Their presence is a sign that the winter weather has abated and their cheery yellow bonnets are beloved by many. The flowers are of course famously celebrated by William Wordsworth in his poem 'Daffodils' in which he refers to the blooms as being "jocund company" and a sight he would remember in moments of reflection.

      Daffodils have always been a welcome flower in my garden. They always look so beautiful but I also feel that they serve an important purpose in providing early nectar for insects like queen bees that are coming out of hibernation. There are different varieties of daffodils and it can be nice to plant a mixture in your patch. They generally come in shades of bright yellow, pale yellow and white (although you can also get shades of pink/orange). They have a flat star shape of petals with a golden trumpet at their centre. Their height varies according to the position they have been planted in or their variety. There are dwarf varieties, for instance. Also, bulbs planted in the shade tend to grow taller to reach the sunlight. They have a long, tender stalk and thin green leaves. Daffodils have a unique appearance and are particularly striking when planted in large quantities close together to one another.

      You can buy Daffodil bulbs from garden centres, some supermarkets and stores like Wilko's in the UK. Bulbs are large and shaped like a teardrop. They are around a few inches long and often have a thick pale green shoot beginning to grow out of the thin end whilst the broader end has a beard of thin white roots. Bulbs can be planted in the UK from August and can be planted until December, although earlier planting is generally recommended. The bulb should be firm to handle and then planted at about 5-6 inches deep with around 8 centimetres between each bulb.

      Daffodils are generally considered to be a flower that blooms in March and April but their growth patterns depend a lot on the weather. For instance, Daffodils will usually start to emerge in January but mine are already half way grown already and it's not even the end of December! They are a flower that will withstand colder periods however they often tend to snap in high winds. This is my only issue with the flower. I often end up picking up any broken flowers and putting them in a vase indoors.

      Daffodils will return year after year as long as the bulbs are left in place and are healthy. Once the flower has died off let the leaves die away rather than cutting them back as this allows the nutrients in the foliage to return to the bulb and strengthen it for next years growth.

      I would recommend these golden flowers to anyone who enjoys cheerful and pretty garden displays!

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      • Nasturtiums / Plant / 4 Readings / 4 Ratings
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        27.12.2014 15:06
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        A Beautiful Tangle Of Bright Flowers!

        I'd never heard of Nasturtiums until my mum told me about them. She insisted that they were one of the prettiest flowers you could have in your garden. She then bought me a packet of seeds and I planted them and ever since then have grown Nasturtiums every year. The garden wouldn't be complete without them!

        Nasturtium seeds are large round nobbled balls which can be planted in Springtime for summer blooming. However, once you've successfully grown your first flowers then you needn't buy any more packets as you can collect the seeds from the plant each year - they produce an abundance of seed. They also tend to self-seed so I've had a few plants pop up where I didn't expect them!

        Nasturtiums have large veined bright green leaves which are round in shape and grow along a creeping vine. The flowers comes in various shades of orange, red and yellow. Once the flowers have become established they tend to grow over the ground or creep up through bushes or up fences up to about 3ft long. Visually they are a very striking flower as the colours are so vivid and the leaves are so plentiful. However, they do tend to dwarf any smaller flowers in the area where they are planted.

        I've noticed that my Nasturtiums are loved by butterflies and bees. Small White and Large White butterflies in particular will lay their eggs on the leaves, either in a cluster on the underside of the leaf or in single eggs on the top of the leaf. The eggs look like tiny pale yellow spikes. I've also seen aphids hatch out their eggs on the broad, flat leaves. Needless to say that Nasturtiums are often crawling with caterpillars so if you don't like them or consider them a pest these flowers are not for you. Caterpillars generally eat away at the leaves of the plant, devouring each leaf until they are left just clinging to the stem. Alternatively you may consider Nasturtium as a plant that will attract crop eating insets away from any vegetables you may be growing such as cabbage which are commonly attacked by the same caterpillars.

        My nasturtiums stop growing around Autumn and the plant generally remains alive until the first frosts of Autumn or Winter. Then the long, twisted stems wither suddenly. I then remove all of the dead plant from the garden. It tends to grow into bushes and over my lawn and I am concerned that leaving the soggy tendrils of the plant may encourage disease.

        One last interesting fact about the flower is that you can eat both leaves and flowers as a salad dish, although I've never personally been tempted! To me it's just a very pretty flower that I grow because it's beautiful and because I know the butterflies love to hatch their eggs on it! I would recommend Nasturtiums to wildlife gardeners and to those who like bright tangles of flowers in their gardens!

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      • Ivy / Plant / 5 Readings / 5 Ratings
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        26.12.2014 13:33
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        Advantages

        • "Berries are eaten by birds in winter."
        • "Flowers are late scource of nectar."
        • "Looks good."
        • "Can be beneficial for nesting birds."

        Disadvantages

        • "Can spread easily."
        • "Needs lots of pruning/cutting back."

        A Great Climbing Plant That's A Haven For Wildlife!

        I first started growing ivy as a house plant when I got a gift basket with it in. All of the plants died off except the ivy which was pot bound so I decided to plant it outdoors. When I did so it continued to grow very rapidly and started winding it's way up my metal trellis. Eventually it grew very thick and looked so nice that I planted some more ivy around the garden.

        Ivy has a strange reputation as a climbing plant. Lots of people think that it can damage brickwork and trees as it seems to be very tight and thick and grows into every nook and crevice! I admit it's a plant that can get out of control very quickly. It needs regular pruning and cutting back when it becomes too heavy for any structure onto which it is growing. I often have to cut it back from my garden fence, for example, as the fence isn't strong enough to take the weight. I also have ivy on a wooden trellis which may snap with the weight of the ivy so it needs heavy pruning.

        Ivy looks thin and spindly when it first begins to grow. A thin twisting shoot with small glossy leaves that are larger with a broader shape on mature plants. Leaves can be bright green or variegated depending on the variety. Ivy flowers in the autumn into lime green balled spikes which are often a late source of nectar for many insects, particularly wasps. After this flowers often turn into glassy purple berries but I've found that the fruit tends to only appear on mature ivy that has been allowed to grow. Birds, in particular blackbirds, adore the berries during the winter when other food sources are scarce.

        If ivy is given a structure to climb up it can reach 30 metres. Until recently I had an old dead tree trunk which became a column of ivy as well as two trellis structures which were thick with the plant. The ivy provides great nesting space for many birds and I've had pigeons, doves, blackbirds, chaffinches and wrens nest in the gnarly, twisted but very firm structures.

        Since it's evergreen ivy looks beautiful all year and looks particularly good in the height of summer when the leaves appear radiant. It also looks very natural and British, since ivy is a plant you will often notice growing wild.

        My only concerns are that it takes a lot of pruning if you wish to keep a certain shape or need to trim back to ensure the plant doesn't harm a structure. I trim back in late summer but am keen to leave enough plant to enable flowering. It can also grow roots and spread quite easily and I often have to remove new shoots from areas in the garden. Generally though I think the benefits of having ivy outweigh any negatives and I would recommend it to any gardener.

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      • Lavender (Flowers) / Plant / 3 Readings / 3 Ratings
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        26.12.2014 10:09
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        Advantages

        • "Insects Love It!"
        • "Looks stunning"
        • "Has a beautiful fragrance"

        Disadvantages

        • "Is difficult to prune correctly"

        A Good Choice For Any Garden

        I first decided to plant Lavender in my garden after seeing it growing in a friend's garden. I could smell the flowers at a distance and the bright purple blooms on rigid green stems looked stunning. I bought a plant and put it in a partially shaded area. Unfortunately it died soon afterwards and I was keen to find out what I'd done wrong. I then bought another plant and put this one in a full sun position and this one is still thriving.

        Lavender is one of the prettiest plants you can have in your garden. I actually have mine in a front garden with only a small amount of space so you can plant this even if you have a limited amount of room. It is very imposing among the other plants in the garden and looks very striking. The plant has grown considerably since I first planted it and could now be described as a small, woody shrub. It can still be pruned with large secateurs although the core branches are thick and sturdy after a few years of growth.

        The flowers on Lavender are like small tufty ears in the most beautiful blue-purple shade.The leaves on the plant are thin, needle-like and green with a hint of soft white down which looks velvety. The plant has it's own structure so needs no support poles and it tends to grow upwards and with many spikes rather like deer antlers!

        As mentioned the fragrance of Lavender is very strong and potent. The plant has almost an intoxicating effect. I love to touch the plant as the scent rubs off on your fingers and is long lasting. You can actually dry parts of the plant and use them in pomanders.

        Lavender is one of the plants recommended to wildlife gardeners. I find that I get a lot of bees on the plant but not as many butterflies as other plants or flowers in my garden. On positive is that the plant flowers well into the end of the year so provides a late source of nectar for many insects.

        In trying to discover why my first Lavender died I think it may be partially due the conditions they prefer. I would recommend a sunny, sheltered position. I also find the pruning of the plant difficult to get right. Pruning instructions vary according to the variety of Lavender you have so be sure to read the care label before planting. I'd recommend not cutting back hard into bare wood though.

        I would certainly recommend the Lavender to anyone looking for a beautiful, striking plant for any size garden (they can also be potted). I would also suggest this plant to any wildlife gardeners.

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      • Courgette Seeds / Plant / 1 Reading / 1 Rating
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        25.12.2014 18:25
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        Advantages

        • "Always produce lots of fruit"
        • "Plants look attractive"
        • "Fun to grow"

        Disadvantages

        • "Need a large pot or space to grow in."

        I Love Growing Courgettes!

        I started to grow my own vegetables about five years ago. I thought that it would be quite fun to do so, that it might save money and that it would help me connect with the environment. After several years of planting I can wholeheartedly say my favourite thing to grow in my garden at home is the courgette. This is because I find them so easy to grow, they are always abundant with fruits and they also look very attractive while growing.

        You can buy courgette seeds from garden centres but on the highstreet your best bet is to go to Wilkinson. The Dooyoo picture here shows Mr Fothergill's Courgette Seeds which you can buy there. You are able to get courgette seeds in different varieties of fruit. I am basing my review on the Zucchini F1 variety.

        The seeds come in a thin paper packet and inside are an unspecified number of seeds. Courgette seeds are quite large, flat and a bit like melon seeds to look at. They need to be planted in individual pots. I use small to medium sized pots, often using old plastic popcorn tubs and yogurt pots. I plant slightly earlier than suggested in March. A growing guide on the seed packet advises to sow in April. However, I like to start mine off early. There is a risk in this if the weather in late April and May is not very good, however, but I have not had too many problems concerning this.

        I would advise growing a few more plants than you think you need to compensate for any problems when growing. I have had a seedling die and I have had one seedling grow into a dwarf plant which was not viable. The seedlings shoot up very quickly and grow into small, sturdy plants which like a lot of water. I keep these on a warm windowsill until it's warm enough for them to go outdoors. During the transition period I would advise putting them out in the day and bringing them in at night for at least one week. Make sure there are no more frosts before finally planting out.

        Courgettes need a football sized hole so you can plant them in large tubs or directly into the ground. Mine prefer full sun conditions. They still like to drink a lot and especially do when the fruits grow. The large yellow flowers are stunning but not every flower produces a fruit although the flowers themselves are edible! Harvest the fruits when they are 5-6 inches long to keep the plant producing.

        Watch out for issues such as diseased plants. If leaves on plants look white and patchy remove them immediately and dispose of them away from the area.

        I would definitely recommend growing courgettes from seed, especially to those who wish to interest children in gardening. They are one of the easiest things to grow and the courgettes are so delicious and versatile.

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      • Swiss Cheese Plant / Plant / 3 Readings / 3 Ratings
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        24.12.2014 10:19
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        Advantages

        • "Large and Majestic"
        • "Look Amazing"

        Disadvantages

        • "Difficult to support branches"

        A Beautiful Large Houseplant

        Many years ago I 'rescued' an almost dead Swiss Cheese Plant from a family member. It only had four leaves left on it which were wilting and brown. She had kept the plant in her cool, windy hallway and neglected to feed it much. I took the plant, re-potted it, fed it and put it in the warmest room of my home where it still stands now, and has done for more than ten years at least, abundant with leaves (it has around 35 leaves now). The plant genuinely feels like a companion to me as it has been around for so long and has imposed it's grandeur and majesty on the household.

        Often shortened to just 'Cheese Plant' these plants make for excellent, large houseplants. Mine just about matches me in height (it is around 5ft tall) and it is potted in a large, deep pot (around 11 inches in diameter) which is actually an outdoor ceramic style pot. The pot has a drainage hole at the bottom so it also has a ceramic plate underneath. These plants can actually grow up to 65ft but are unlikely to grow much higher than mine in indoor, potted condition.

        The plant has rather loose, spindled branches which support very large, glossy heart-shaped leaves. Most of the leaves are lobed with the younger parts of the plant developing leaves without the distinctive lobe pattern which looks almost like striping. Some of the leaves on my plant are enormous and rather heavy. In wild conditions these plants will grow up against trees but in a pot they need to be carefully propped up and tethered to support poles. This can be rather difficult since the plant literally has no rigidity in its main 'stem'. I actually have several bamboo poles in one pot which support the plant at various heights. The stem literally has to be tied to the support poles to give the plant shape and structure.

        As soon as I got my Cheese Plant I understood that it enjoyed warm conditions. My plant still grows towards the window and the light though, meaning all of it's leaves face the same way. It also prefers to be fed water that is not ice cold but lukewarm. I water the plant around every four/five days in all seasons but only provide an abundance of water in the summer. Otherwise I only provide enough around a half pint of water per feed. I keep the leaves clean from dust by wiping with a damp cloth every few weeks. The plants may need re-potting and I have re-potted mine twice. I recommend getting someone to help you with the plants re-positioning since they are so large it can be very tricky!

        I would definitely recommend these plants to anyone looking for a large plant to fit a space in their home. They are a plant worth caring for and nurturing since they are so very attractive and they make any room look stunning.

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      • Buddleja / Plant / 3 Readings / 4 Ratings
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        23.12.2014 17:56
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        Advantages

        • "highly attractive to butterflies and pollinating insects"
        • "Beautiful to look at"

        Disadvantages

        • "Can require some harsh pruning"

        An Abundance Of Butterflies

        I have a Buddleja in my garden that was planted over ten years ago and I consider it to be one of the best features of my garden. I first acquired it from a family member who said they were a fantastic plant for attracting butterflies, something I dearly wanted to do.

        The most recognisable Buddleja plants are the purple varieties often seen up and down the country along railway lines. I have a white flowering variety called the Buddleja davidii or 'White Bouquet'.

        It is a tall shrub with thick woody branches at the base from which thinner branches will grow. Each branch, which has large deep green leaves along their length, then produces one large head of many tiny flowers at the end of the branch. Often branches will have several other flower heads behind this but they tend to be smaller in size. My own Buddleja tends to grow about 7ft tall every year from a core height of older wood which is about 5ft. It grows profusely every year and is always quite thick (3-4ft width) so I cut it back every Autumn to about three or four inches to the base of each individual flowering branch, leaving a few buds at the base of the older wood for next years growth.

        The flowers on Buddleja shrubs are very beautiful, grand and imposing. Each head, when looked at closely, actually has tiny compact flowers that are bunched together. The flower heads are like very large cones which taper away to a thin point.

        The Buddleja is extremely valuable to wildlife gardeners. I always see dozens of butterflies on the flowers and they remain their for hours drinking up the precious nectar. Peacocks and Red Admirals tend to be the main visitors but I also see commas, large whites, skippers and others. The flowers are also very valuable to bees, wasps and flies. At the height of flowering the Buddleja is literally covered in dozens of butterflies, hence why the plant is commonly known as 'the butterfly bush'. My Buddleja tends to flower in mid to late summer, but I live in the north of England and have noticed that Buddleja bushes further south tend to flower sooner.

        In order to prolong the flowering on the Buddleja I deadhead any dead flowers from the shrub as soon as they die off, allowing the nutrients to go into other parts of the bush. The flowers are always an excellent source of nectar for insects later on in the summertime.

        I would definitely recommend the Buddleja to anyone with a medium to large sized garden who wish to plant something that is beneficial to insects. I am hoping to plant a second Buddleja in my patch soon as I think they are one of the finest shrubs you can have in your garden!

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      • Peace Lily / Plant / 4 Readings / 4 Ratings
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        23.12.2014 14:21
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        Advantages

        • "Easy to care for."
        • Beautiful

        Disadvantages

        • None.

        A Beautiful Houseplant

        The Peace Lily are household plants in the UK. I have several Peace Lily plants all over my house and will probably end up with more after propagating the ones I have at the moment. They are beautiful medium sized plants which require little care or space so they are perfect for any room.

        The plants have long slender lush green leaves that grow in single stems and which form a cluster. New leaves grow from the root base. When the plant flowers there will usually be one or two main flower heads per small plant. The flower stems are twice as long as the leaves and have a woody stem. Each flower is a one petal creamy white cocoon with a nobbled pollen covered core. They are rather striking to look at. Mine tend to bloom at different times of the year. The flowers last a couple of weeks before turning brown and then they should be trimmed back.

        The plants are really easy to care for and can withstand cool to warm conditions. I have plants on warm (but not in full sun) windowsills as well as in shady spots and both do well. I tend to give my plants mildly warm water rather than ice cold as this doesn't chill the roots. They also like to be misted with water sprays in the summer and you should keep their leaves dust free. Often one of two leaves will die off and should be trimmed away at the base.

        The plants grow quite rapidly hence the reason why I have so many. When the plants become too big for their pots they can be separated. I tend to simply half the plants and am careful not to damage the roots of either plant when re-potting. The pots I use are around 10 inches in diameter.

        I recently read that Peace Lily plants have incredible air purification properties and as such are heralded as the perfect plant for the home and especially for place like the office. They certainly make my home look brighter and healthier and they are my number one choice of a houseplant. I would recommend them to anyone who is looking for an ideal houseplant and also to those who don't want to spend too long on the upkeep of their household plants!

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      • Verbena / Plant / 7 Readings / 7 Ratings
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        22.12.2014 18:21
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        Advantages

        • "Easy to grow/maintain"
        • "Very attractive to butterflies/bees"
        • "They look fanastic."

        Disadvantages

        • None

        Beautiful Purple Flowers Adored By Butterflies!

        A couple of years ago I saw a deal for a bundle pack of flower seeds for a very cheap purchase price. My garden was looking quite bare and I wanted some colourful flowers that would grow at all heights to create some interesting visuals. I also wanted flowers that would attract insects and in the catalogue where I bought these seeds it said that Verbena was particularly attractive to butterflies.

        When I got the seeds I planted them in a small tub especially meant for seedlings with some fresh compost. I placed this in a warm windowsill and eventually I grew about five separate seedlings. I did expect more but I was happy enough with what I managed to grow.

        I planted the seedlings outside when it became warm enough in the beginning of May and used a home-made cloche to protect the seedlings until they had adjusted to the climate and had grown substantially to be more sturdy. I planted them in a full sun spot in the garden and they were alongside a fence which they now lean against slightly since they have grown tall.

        The variety I have (Verbena bonariensis) is extremely tall (around 6-7 ft) with thin spindly leaves that grow in a V-shape. They flower from June to September in a strong purple with tiny bunches of petals on little heads which you wouldn't think would be so attractive to insects. However, I can testify that both butterflies and bees absolutely love this plant! I especially see a lot of peacock butterflies on the plant. However I have also seen Red Admirals, commas, skippers and several white varieties on them. I also had a nest of tree bees frequently visiting the flowers this last year. The flowers have a rather mild fragrance to me but they must be very attractive to the insects! The head of the flowers are at eye level so you can get excellent views of the landing insects! The flowers really are a beautiful addition to any garden and look fantastic in a flower bed with other lower level flowers nearby.

        The plants I cultivated have flowered for two years now. They are best trimmed back in the spring and there is some dead woody branches which usually need to be removed. However, they are very low maintenance in general. I would definitely recommend these to any wildlife gardener who might want to increase insect visitation to the garden.

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        • Tesco Clubcard / Credit Card / 5 Readings / 5 Ratings
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          22.12.2014 17:53
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          Advantages

          • Generous
          • "Points build up rapidly"

          Disadvantages

          • None

          A Wonderful Rewards Scheme!

          Tesco ClubCard is a loyalty/rewards card for the supermarket retailer Tesco. It allows you to earn points every time you shop at the store. The store then converts the points to pounds every few months and sends you a voucher for the amount of points you've earned to spend in store.

          I have a lot of store loyalty cards in my purse but my favourite card is the Clubcard. Why? I find it's so easy to earn points and it's also a very generous point conversion with options often available to double your points to spend on certain departments in Tesco.

          As a member of the Clubcard scheme the store also send you out money off vouchers for certain grocery products. These are often tailored to your interests and are based on products you have bought in the past when you have swiped your Clubcard. You can use these alongside your accumulated points voucher too, so it can end up as quite a substantial saving amount.

          Points are awarded per pound per shop and 1 point equals 1 penny. You can also gain points from doing things such as taking your own shopping bag into store (1 point per bag). There are also occasional point making opportunities that crop up online such as consumer surveys or product testing panels.

          Your vouchers can be used online with a code printed on each voucher or taken into store and swiped alongside your Clubcard. The store often runs promotions where you can double your points if you have at least £5 in points saved. I have only partaken in this once and managed to double the voucher and get £10 of products in the pet department! It's a very appealing deal!

          As a Clubcard customer you have to register with your full details and then you have an online account where you can print off unused vouchers, check your points balance and where you have used the card lately, see where you can spend points and more. You can use your vouchers in any store you like. There has been some controversy recently about customers having their points vouchers stolen. Incredibly anyone can take another customer's voucher and scan it with their own Clubcard. I think this is about the only flaw in the scheme!

          As far as supermarket incentives go I think the Tesco Clubcard scheme is number one and it certainly makes me return to shop at the store even when I live closer to a rival supermarket! I would definitely recommend this card to anyone who ever shops at Tesco. It can save you a lot of money!

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        • More +
          20.12.2014 21:44
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          • "Lots of fast paced dance tracks."

          Disadvantages

          • "Some cheesy ballads"

          .A Super 1980's Dance Album

          This album was released at the tail end of the 1980's and it's a dance music classic, more so for those who experienced the hype around the group during this period. The London Boys were a high energy dancing duo with fantastic looks and passionate vocals singing tracks written and produced by German Ralf Rene Maue, whose association with Pete Waterman's Hit Factory helped propel the pair into the charts.

          The album contains 12 tracks with a mix of thumping club dance songs and cheesy pop ballads. The stand outs on the album include their hits 'London Nights' and 'Requiem'. The latter track is my particular favourite as it has a slightly dark feeling to it that distinguishes it from any similar dance tracks at the time. It is actually mixed with Gregorian chants which gives the track a very strange and spiritual feeling despite it having a typical 1980's synth beat. It also uses a spoken rap style chorus. It's a powerful, haunting and unforgettable song.

          There are a lot of fun tracks on the album such as 'The Midi Dance', an anthem to having a good time as well as 'Kimbalay Ma Ma Mama Say' which has a jaunty rhythm which hits every inch of your body.

          The softer tracks on the album aren't as powerful and are a little bit corny and overly sentimental. It's the kind of stuff that would only very young kids today would appreciate. A particularly nauseating ballad dedicated to 'Sandra' is perhaps the lowest point of the album.

          A lot of the tracks carry some very powerful messages and one that has always stuck with me since my youth is 'Harlem Desire' in which the duo sing about a desire for inner city peace and for re-education of youngsters indoctrinated into gun violence. The song is a real belter and it makes you want to sing, move and change the world!

          Sadly, The London Boys did not have a long career and their lives were cut short not long after having top ten success with several of the singles from this album. It's an album I love to play and I would hope that young people are still discovering it today.

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        • Aldi / Highstreet Shopping / 9 Readings / 9 Ratings
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          18.12.2014 12:45
          Very helpful
          (Rating)

          Advantages

          • "Branded items also cheaper than other stores."
          • "Great own range."
          • "Cheap but great quality!"

          Disadvantages

          • None

          A Great Supermarket That Saves Me So Much Money!

          I early ever used to shop at Aldi. My main stores were Asda and Tesco. However, over the last few years I heard so much positive feedback from friends and in the media about Aldi that I started to shop there more regularly. Now I can wholeheartedly say that Aldi is my favourite supermarket store!

          Aldi has a reputation for selling cheap food and at first I thought this might mean that the quality of the food would not be as good. However, after trying many of the products at Aldi I can testify that they have an outstanding range of shop's own items. Not only that but they also sell a few brand name items at a much lower price than rival supermarkets.

          What I particularly like about the store is that there are so many different and unusual products compared to other supermarkets. They have some really creative food choices available. They have excellent shop's own products in every food category you can think of. I particularly like their tinned vegetables, cereals, chilled dips, snack foods, confectionery, dried sauces and packeted food and personal products. If I had to choose some favorites I'd say their breakfast biscuits, the tea tree hair conditioner and their soya milk.

          There is often a section in store where 'special' items have been brought in and are available for a short period of time. I love this section as you can often get exclusive items for a fraction of the price you'd pay anywhere else! The store also sells non grocery items which they situate in large stalls down a few aisles. You can get everything from candles to walking boots. Again, these items are brought in and sold until they are gone, so you often have to be quick. I've gotten hold of such items as a cycle pump, cushions, drawing pads and jumpers at really low costs!

          The in-store environment is really nice although I do note an increased security presence in the store compared to other supermarkets. The till service is a little strange too. You feel a bit rushed and are not allowed to pack your items into bags at the end of the till. You have to go off to the side and pack them once you have paid. I find this a little inconvenient, especially when the store is busy.

          The store have a great selection of fresh fruit and vegetables and also fresh meat and fish. They do what they call a 'super 6' promotion where they have six items of fresh fruit or vegetable produce and six meat cuts at a reduced price or on special offer. These promotions are easy to spot in the store.

          I have huge praise for Aldi. My shopping bill is literally around £20 cheaper than in any other supermarket. If I was to spend as much here as in Asda/Tesco I'd find it difficult to fill my shopping trolley! Go and take a look!

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        • Nectar Card / Credit Card / 5 Readings / 5 Ratings
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          18.12.2014 10:02
          Very helpful
          (Rating)

          Advantages

          • "Can get money off shopping with points."

          Disadvantages

          • "Points are worth less than other loyalty cards."

          The Nectar Flows Slow But Steady

          I've had a Nectar Card for many years now. I first acquired it to gain reward points on my shopping in Sainsburys but the card has since partnered with other brands and firms and there are a number of ways you can gain points. You can then use your points for a number of different things such as money of your shopping, to gain a reduction in price or generate a special offer for a number of brands, days out, entertainment treats and so on. I primarily use my points to get money off my shopping at Sainsburys.

          You can earn points in a number of ways. If you swipe your card on every shopping trip to Sainsburys you earn points according to how much you have spent. You can also earn points from signing up to certain firms. For instance, I get my energy services through British Gas and earn points just by being a customer. You can also earn points if you shop at certain stores online. You have to go through the Nectar website to establish a connection to your card prior to shopping though. Ebay have recently started awarding customers with points if they link their card to their account. A whole list of shops where you can earn points is available at the Nectar website. Until recently there was a scheme called Nectar Adpoints where you could earn points by watching adverts online but the scheme has recently disbanded this. However, you can still earn points if you install the Nectar search toolbar on your computer. You earn one point for every two searches with a maximum allowance of 100 points a month.

          I have always thought that the Nectar card was the least generous loyalty card around. It's certainly more difficult for me to accumulate points on this card than any other loyalty card I possess. The points' worth approximates to £2.50 for every 500 points so it's half the amount in pounds to whatever amount of points you have. There are many spending options that don't appeal to me personally although there is a lot of choice on how to redeem the points.

          I think this is still a card worth having if you even just use one of the services where you can accumulate points as it all adds up eventually! It's quite handy to be able to take the card to Sainsburys and just tell them to take off £5 off my shopping bill!

          I would recommend this card to anyone who is a regular shopper or anyone who uses any service such as Ebay where you can gain Nectar points. It may take longer to accumulate enough points to spend but you'll get there in the end!

          http://www.nectar.com/

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        • Barclaycard / Credit Card / 5 Readings / 5 Ratings
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          17.12.2014 17:22
          Very helpful
          (Rating)

          Advantages

          • "Good detailed statements"
          • Convenient

          Disadvantages

          • "Call line staff could be improved"

          Spending Made Easy?

          I first took out a Barclaycard Credit Card about thirteen years ago and it's the only credit card I use now. Over the years I have gone from having a regular card to a Gold card, a Graduate card and I now have a Platinum card.

          I have had some issues with the card over the years. The first year I had the card I did not receive a statement and was charged £25 late fees for not paying on time. I believe this charge is now around £12. I have also had the card blocked after my spending was flagged as being unusual.

          I have also recently been a victim of online card fraud. I do feel the way the issue was dealt with could have been much better. Firstly I didn't receive notification that my card had been stopped. Then when I rang the company the member of staff spoke in very poor English. He went over my transactions with me but actually rounded up some of the transaction amounts to the next pound which was extremely confusing! He eventually confirmed all of my authorised spending but somehow failed to tell me about the fraudulent transactions and then reactivated my card, allowing the fraudulent transactions to go through! I eventually got this sorted out and the company sent me a 'claim form' which I had to fill in and return. They agreed the card details had been stolen and deleted the transactions from my account within a month of the event. This limited my stress about the matter a lot!

          I have had no other problems with the card. I get a monthly statement by email. This is encrypted so you need a password to access a PDF file. Then you can pay in a bank or online. The statements are always very well written with full information about when and where each transaction took place.

          These credit cards are of course widely accepted and are convenient to use. You can withdraw cash from an ATP with these cards but I believe there is a small charge to do so. I personally do not use my credit card in this way.

          I would definitely recommend this card to anyone. I have found that the bank are very helpful in giving you a card that suits your needs. The company are generally very easy to deal with although some call centre staff need some extra training, in my opinion!

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