HOW TO GROW TREE ECHIUMS

Echium wildpretii


Echium is a genus of approximately 60 species of hardy and half hardy annuals and biennials, however it is the tall flower spikes of the commonly called 'Tree echiums' which most capture the imagination.

Echium pininana
Tree echiums are usually biennial (though sometime triennial under poor environmental conditions) and include the 2.5 metre tall Echium candicans, Echium simplex and Echium wildpretii which both have a height of up to 3 metres, and the outrageous Echium pininana which under favourable conditions can reach a very impressive 4-5 metres tall!

Native to the Canary islands (except for Echium candicans which is native to the island of Madeira), tree Echiums are easily identified by their growth habit, which in their first year is expressed by a low rosette of silver, hairy, spear-like leaves. In the second year, the plant suddenly spurts into rapid growth and produces a single, occasionally multistem (especially if the growing tip has been subject to damage - usually caterpillar), tall flower spike festooned with blue or pink flowers depending on the species or cultivar. Once the flowers have finished then the plant will die off. However, Echium seeds are particularly viable, and are produced in large quantities.

Echium simplex
Plant them in full sun and in a sheltered site, and your Echiums will establish themselves quickly in the garden. The more you prepare the soil with well-rotted farm manure or garden compost the larger they will grow.

Newly planted specimens will require plenty of water during their first few weeks to help them establish. Firm the soil around the base of the plant and provide a sturdy stake in exposed positions. Be aware that tree echiums tend to bend at the base of the stem under their own weight and can easily become pushed over in strong winds.

In regions which experience freezing conditions cover plants with a horticultural fleece over the winter. Spray with an insecticide beforehand as foliage-eating insects and caterpillars will also enjoy spending the winter under protection.

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HOW TO TAKE CUTTINGS FROM FICUS ELASTICA


How to take cuttings from Ficus elastica




Commonly known as the rubber plant - Ficus elastica is a popular house and garden plant native to northeast India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, China, Malaysia, and Indonesia. It is propagated vegetatively either through taking cuttings or air layering

How to propagate Ficus elastica by taking cuttings

In order to propagate Ficus elastica by cuttings, take 4-6 inch lateral shoots from April to June. Insert into equal parts (by volume) moss peat and sand. Failing that, use a good quality compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting'.

Water in gently, then place into heated propagator - or similar warm environment, at a temperature of 21-24 degrees Celsius.

When rooted, remove from the propagator and pot the cuttings singly into 3 inch pots using a standard potting compost.

Keep in a bright, warm environment and water and pot on as necessary.

How to propagate Ficus elastica by air layering

Image credit - http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/
The air layering method requires the propagator to cut a slit in the plant's stem using a sharp sterilized blade.

The wound, which oozes with the plant's latex, is packed with rooting hormone and then wrapped tightly with moist sphagnum moss.

Dampen the moss with water using a spray bottle then wrap the structure in plastic securing it to the stem at both ends.

At this point there is little left to do other than allow nature to takes its course for a few months. The new roots will develop from the plant's auxiliary buds.

Once the root system has established the plastic can be removed. The stem is severed below the original slit, again using a sharp, sterilized blade, and the new plant is potted on its own.

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HOW TO GROW ABIES KOREANA FROM SEED




Abies koreana is arguably the most popular and ornamental of all the Abies species. However plants under cultivation in the UK generally end up as poor specimens once mature. Why? Habitually vegetatively propagated, most examples of the Korean fir in the UK are descended from the first introduced specimen which taken from an isolated Korean island, This first introduction was a rather inferior representation of the species, so material taken from it for grafting purposes has resulted in the majority of UK plants being short and stunted in habit.

However, should you be of a mind to produce a better quality plant, or just want to try your hand at growing them from seed then it is a relatively simple affair - so long as you have viable seed at your disposal. The best time to sow Abies Koreana seeds is February.

Using a deep modular seed tray, traditional pan, or root training modules, fill with a suitable, good quality compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting'.

Sow the seeds on the surface, one per module or spaced at a rate of one seed per 3-5 cm. Add a layer of horticultural grit and then gently water in. Water the compost as necessary to keep it moist but do not allow it to become waterlogged. Place in a cold frame outside to overwinter. Alternatively, broadcast in outside prepared seed beds in March.

Once the seedlings are large enough to handle (for traditional pan grown) or their roots have established in their modules, they can be transplanted into 2 litre pots or a prepared seed bed outside. Once the seedlings have produced three sets of small branches. they can be fed monthly using a liquid soluble fertiliser diluted to one-fourth the strength recommended dose.

The Abies koreana will need to be grown on for a further 2-4 years, potting on as necessary for container grown plants, before they are ready to be planted out into their final position.

The young plants will grow well in moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soils in full sun.

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HOW TO GROW ABIES KOREANA
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WHAT DO FLAMINGOS EAT?




When you think if flamingos you automatically think of pink. But the trouble with flamingoes is that their natural feather colour is actually grey, a colour from which which gradually turns to pink as they get older.

This is backed up by observing flamingos kept in captivity - not fed on their native foodstuffs - who end up losing their pink colour.

We know that Flamingos filter-feed on brine shrimp and blue-green algae.

In fact, their beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they eat, and are uniquely used upside-down. Furthermore, the filtering of food items is assisted by hairy structures called lamellae which line the mandibles, and the large rough-surfaced tongue.

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HOW TO GROW ABIES KOREANA

Image credit - http://www.garden-en.com/


Commonly known as the Korean fir, Abies koreana is a small, slow-growing evergreen tree or bush native (as is honoured by the species name) to Korea. Mature specimens have a conical habit, combined with reasonably compact growth.

It is a genuinely hardy species, although in regions which experience late frosts, the new growth can be destroyed.

Under favorable growing conditions you can expect Abies koreana to reach an overall height of approximately 12 metres or more, with a width of 4-8 metres. However, growing at a rate of around 15 cm per year it may take 50 years or so to attain this.

The small, rather dark-green, needle-like leaves are noted for their bright silver undersides, however this species is chiefly grown for its crimson, pink or green female flowers which are borne freely in May. The flowers stand in upright lines along the shoots. The male flowers are globular, red-brown opening to yellow and are clustered among the leaves. Handsome blue-green cones follow which are approximately 10 cm long, but only one the plant had matured, usually once it has reached 1-1.5 metres tall.

Plant Abies koreana in a sunny, sheltered position in a moist, but well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Avoid alkaline or chalky soils. Abies koreana will be best planted in November on light soils or in April on heavy soils. Maintain a weed free margin around the roots for the first few years until the root system has properly established. After this period mulch each spring, but avoid the mulch touching the trunk, Then apply an annual dressing of balanced fertiliser in early May.

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ALPINE STRAWBERRY 'Mignonette' SEEDS - 320 Seeds


The alpine strawberry is a perennial, herbaceous plant that produces delicately flavoured, edible red fruits. Native throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere, Strawberry 'Mignonette' is an improved, selected cultivar, and the plant of choice when it comes to fruits suitable for decorating pastries, cakes or for dropping into a glass of champagne!

Alpine Strawberry 'Mignonette' is also now available as the 'Seeds of Eaden' Online seed shop

However, alpine strawberry are not a modern phenomenon! In fact evidence from archaeological excavations suggests that alpine strawberries have been consumed by humans since the Stone Age

Strawberry 'Mignonette' seeds can be sown under protection from late winter to early spring. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, they can be potted on and moved to cooler conditions.

Once the risk of frost has passed, they can be hardened off to outdoor conditions before planting outdoors in their final positions.

Alternatively, alpine strawberry 'Mignonette' can be direct sow outdoors during mid-spring into a well-drained soil which has been imperviously raked to a fine tilth.

Once established, the alpine strawberry self-propagates by means of runners.

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STRAWBERRY 'Mignonette'

WHERE DO FLAMINGOS LIVE?





In an attempt to see wild flamingos, it is essential to visit the proper habitats that support these wading birds.

Flamingos are quite adaptable, and they can be found in a range of wet habitats from freshwater to saltwater, including mudflats, lakes, coastal lagoons, open marshes and relatively shallow salt lakes.

In many areas, flamingos can subsist in brackish water that does not offer enough food for other birds, and in those regions, large flocks are more common as flamingos gather in great numbers to take advantage of abundant food and little competition.


Where to see wild flamingos?

Even with only a few flamingo species, it is possible for everyone to see these birds if they know where to look.

In the Caribbean: 
The American flamingo is native in the Caribbean, occurring on many islands. They are relatively easy to see in the Bahamas, Aruba and Cuba, as well as along the coasts of other Caribbean islands and the adjacent coasts of Central and South America. Regular wild vagrants travel as far north as Florida and are often sighted in Everglades National Park.

In South America: 
The Andean, puna, Chilean and American flamingos are all residents in South America, and depending on the species they can be found in a variety of habitats from coastal marshes to mountain plateaus. Laguna Colorada in Bolivia is a popular spot to see flamingos, and wild populations are common in Argentina, northeastern Chile and throughout Ecuador and Venezuela.

In Africa: 
Both lesser and greater flamingos are found in large numbers in Africa. The most common breeding grounds are throughout the Great Rift Valley, including Lake Natron in Tanzania, Lake Bogoria National Park in Kenya and Lake Nakuru, also in Kenya.

In the Middle East:
After the breeding season, greater and lesser flamingos regularly migrate to the Middle East, including areas of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar. To a lesser extent, they can also be found in Iran and Kazakhstan, though their populations appear to be decreasing in those areas.

Near the Mediterranean:
Greater flamingos are regularly sighted along the southern Mediterranean Sea, spreading especially from Tunisia to Egypt in fairly large numbers. Rare vagrant sightings are often recorded much further north, but it is not certain if those birds are wild or escapees from captivity.

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WHY ARE FLAMINGOS PINK?





Its is obvious isn't it? Flamingos eat shrimp. The shrimp are pink and so the pink goes into the feathers of the flamingo making the flamingo pink? Well unfortunately not as the truth is a little more complicated that that - as I shall explain.

It is true that flamingoes Flamingos filter-feed on brine shrimp and blue-green algae, but it's not the the colour of the food that makes the flamingo pink, but the chemicals inside. The brine shrimp has the same issue as the flamingoes as they are not naturally pink either.

The pink comes from the natural plant pigment astaxanthin. This is a pink pigment produced by plants and algae and it is the very same astaxanthin pigment that give Flamingos their pink colour.


This is how it works. When the brine shrimps eat algae the astaxanthin contained in them is incorporated into their chitin shell. When the Flamingos eat the shrimps the flamingos then they in turn incorporate the pigment into their feathers.

Incidentally this is also why the meat or muscle of an adult wild salmon is pink. Farmed salmon raised on meal lacking the pigment have white appearing muscle. This is also why when you cook shrimp or lobster or crab they turn bright pink to red in colour. Shrimps and lobsters don't look pink at first due to proteins in the shell obscuring the pigment. When the protein is denatured (cooked) it reveals the wonderful pink-red colour.

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WHY ARE FLAMINGOS PINK?

HOW TO GROW ABELIA x GRANDIFLORA


Of all the species and cultivars within the genus, Abelia x grandiflora is arguably the most popular and widely grown of them all. It is a multi-stemmed, semi-evergreen (deciduous in cooler temperate climates), shrub, and a hybrid of Abelia chinensis with Abelia uniflora. Abelia x grandiflora is superior to its parents in both its wealth of flowers and their prominence, hence its popularity. Both Abelia chinensis with Abelia uniflora are native to China.

It has a vigorous arching habit which under favourable condition can produce a height and spread of between 2.5-4 metres. The typical arrangement of the dark green, glossy, oval leaves on the stem are opposite, however they can be borne in threes and fours on vigorous shoots.

The fragrant blooms appear in clusters over a long period from July to October. Each flower is white, tinged with pink and followed by attractive pink-tinged sepals.

It is a very easy to grow plant, yet despite its hybrid vigour is not considered fully hardy, although it will be fine in the milder southern and western regions of the United Kingdom. To flower well, and retain its characteristic dense growth, Abelia x grandiflora must have full sun. It will be happy in any ordinary garden soil, however it will require ground that is both moist and well drained. With that in mind new planted specimens will need to be watered during hot weather and periods of low rainfall.

Protect new plants with horticultural fleece over their first winter. In regions with are prone to sustained, freezing temperatures consider protecting them with every year as a matter of course. In colder climates, Abelia x grandiflora will be best planted in a sheltered position, preferably with the protection of a south or west facing wall.

Abelia x grandiflora received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1984.

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HOW TO GROW ABELIA

Abelia floribunda

Abelia species and cultivars are an often overlooked group of plants for the garden. Why? Because during the peak plant buying period of mid to late spring, Abelias display little else other than a pot full of wiry foliage. But there are many good reasons to consider this genus, perhaps most importantly is the timing of its flowering period. In many gardens, the majority of ornamental plants would have finished flowering by the end of the spring. However, Abelias are just gearing up to bloom, and in spectacular style!

Native to eastern Asia and southern North America, the genus is comprised of evergreen-semi-evergreen species from warm climates, and deciduous species from colder climates. However the most widely grown example from this genus is actually the hybrid Abelia x grandiflora. The parents of which are the Chinese natives Abelia chinensis with A. uniflora.

There are approximately 30 species within the genus, all of which are easily grown. They are all relatively hardy although some of the evergreen species are best kept to the milder regions of the United Kingdom. That being said, all abelias are best afforded a sheltered position preferably with the protection of a south-facing wall. In fact they are often successfully grown as wall shrubs. For cooler, temperate climates, Abelia chinensis has proven to be the hardiest of all the species. Abelia floribunda, arguably the most ornamental off all the abelias, is unfortunately frost tender.

Plant in September and October or March and April. Abelias will grow well in any ordinary well-drained, moist garden soil. They will flower best in full sun although deciduous species will tolerate partial shade.

Water newly planted specimens regularly throughout the growing period during their first year.

No regular pruning is required with abelias although they can be trimmed to shape after flowering. Old and thin growth of evergreen species should also be removed after flowering, For deciduous species this should be done in February.

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HOW TO PRUNE ABELIA


Abelia are a genus of approximately 30 species of semi-evergreen and deciduous shrubs. They are easily grown although the more tender species and cultivars are probably best avoided in cooler temperate climates.

Most specimens will grow to approximately 2-3 metres in height, although Abelia triflora can reach up to 5 metres.

Luckily, when it comes to pruning abelia species and cultivars, no regular pruning is required. That being said, overgrown shoots can be thinned out occasionally (usually after their third year of growth), although the best time for this is just after flowering. For most species, pruning or trimming to shape will be done in either October or November. Note that some species such as Abelia floribunda bloom much earlier from May to July.

Old wood or spindly stems on evergreen species should also be removed after flowering. For deciduous species this should be done in February.

Regarding dead, diseased and damaged wood, this should be removed as soon as it has been noticed. Remove dead stems from ground level. For damaged stems, cut below the damage just above a lateral branch or bud.

Plants that have been severely damaged, crushed, or have become misshapen due to competition from other plants can have all stems cut down to ground level late winter. If new spring growth has already begun then this opportunity has been missed. While almost all abelia species will accept a severe pruning, be aware that it will take several years to return to its normal height.

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HOW TO TAKE CUTTINGS OF ABELIA

Image credit - http://www.jacksonsnurseries.co.uk/

Abelia is a genus of approximately 30 species of semi-evergreen and deciduous shrubs. They are easily grown bushy shrubs, and are hardy in the milder climates of south and west Britain.

When taking cuttings, choose new seasons growth as your material. The best time of which will be around July time. These are known as softwood cuttings.

Using a sharp, sterilized blade, take cuttings 9-12 cm long. Make you cut just below the leaf joint. If the cuttings can not be potted on immediately, store them in a cool, damp bag or refrigerator.

Remove the bottom third leaves the insert three or four of these cuttings in a 9 cm pots containing a good quality compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting' Alternatively you can prepare your own by mixing equal parts by volume horticultural sand and fine grade moss peat. A greater success rate can be achieved by using rooting hormone powder, just remember to use a dibber before sticking the cuttings to prevent the powder from being rubbed off.

Abelia cuttings will require basal heat to encourage root initiation so using a heated propagator, set a temperature of approximately 16-18 degrees Celsius. Maintain humid conditions and you can expect the roots to develop in a few weeks.

If you do not have access to a heated propagator then place the pots outside, but within the protection of a cold frame. The cuttings should be ready to plant out into their final position the following spring.

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HOW TO GROW BERBERIS FROM CUTTINGS


The genus Berberis contains approximately 600-700 deciduous and evergreen shrubs, examples of which can be found throughout most of the temperate and subtropical regions of the world. They are generally easy to cultivate and will thrive in full sun and semi shade in almost any soil so long as it does not become waterlogged.

While all berberis species are fairly easy to grow from seed, they can often hybridize when similar species are in close proximity. Furthermore, cultivated varieties will need to be propagated vegetatively, so to guarantee producing genetically identical plants consider growing all berberis from cuttings.

Berberis are best taken as semi-ripe cuttings in August or September. Fill 3 inch pots containing good quality compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting'. Alternatively use a 50:50 mix by volume of horticultural grade and fine-grade moss peat. For larger amounts of cutting material large seed tray in a cold frame.

Using a sharp, sterilized blade, take 3-4 inch long heel cuttings. A heel cutting is one which is pulled away from the stem, but with a piece of the stem still attached. Avoid choosing damaged, unhealthy, overly-vigorous or atypical material. The best shoots to select are those which are more horizontal in habit with short internodal growth.

Once the cuttings have been taken, immediately place them in a damp plastic bag to prevent the shoots from drying out. Once finished, keep the bag in the shade or, if practical, a fridge until you are ready to prepare the cuttings. Remove the bottom third leaves, but species or cultivars with particularly long leaves may need to have the remaining leaves cut down in size to reduce transpiration. Place one cutting per pot or space them 2 inches apart in seed trays. Evergreen berberis cuttings will do better in 4 inch pots containing John Innes 'No 2' potting compost and plunged outdoors until planting time.

Berberis will not need rooting hormone powder but if you do decide to use it, use a dibber prior to striking to prevent the powder from being rubbed off. Genty water in and then place outside under the protection of a coldframe or in a vented propagator within a polytunnel or unheated greenhouse.

Come the following April or May, the pot grown cuttings can be potted on 5-6 inch pots. The seed tray rooted cuttings can be carefully teased out of the compost and potted on into nursery rows outside for 1 or 2 years before transplanting into their final position.

Main image credit - Simon Eade

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HOW TO GROW BERBERIS DARWINII

How to grow Berberis darwinii



Berberis darwinii is arguably one of the most attractive of all species within the genus. It is a compact evergreen, flowering shrub, ideal for suburban or coastal gardens, and comes with a fairly large slice of history.

It was first discovered for western science in 1835 by Charles Darwin during his epic voyage with the Beagle expedition. However it wasn't brought under commercial production until suitable plant material was retrieved from South America by renowned plant collector William Lobb in 1849.

How to grow Berberis darwinii
It is a hardy, evergreen species found in the moist shady woodlands of the Patagonian mountains. However, care must be taken when handling Berberis darwinii as it has a dense habit with thorny branches. Under favourable conditions it can achieve a height and spread of between 2.5-4 metres. The green, glossy leaves are quite small, approximately 1-2 cm long with 3-5 spines and have a holly-like appearance.

Drooping racemes of rich orange blooms appear in April to May. Each flower is 4–5 mm long and tinged red when in bud. These are followed by 'almost' edible blue-black berries, which may cause some stomach upset when eaten raw. That being said they are excellent in jams and preserves.

Like most other evergreen berberis, Berberis darwinii is easy to grow. In northern European climates they will be happy in full sun or partial shade and can tolerate exposed conditions as well as shallow or thin soils. It is suitable for any ordinary garden soil including heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Avoid planting in soils that are poorly drained or prone to waterlogging.

No regular pruning is required except to remove any old or straggly stems.

Main image credit - Simon Eade
In text image credit -  Dick Culbert https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

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WANT DO MANATEES EAT?

Image credit - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/



The manatee is a herbivore which feeds solely on aquatic vegetation. It feeds and rests in short bouts throughout the day, directing vegetation into its mouth with its dextrous forelimbs or gathering it with its large, deeply split upper lip.

Because of the type of sea grass eaten by the manatee – combined with the fact that it often takes in large quantities of sand with each mouthful – the manatee’s teeth wear down very quickly. To compensate for this, the teeth are constantly replaced. New teeth are formed at the back of the mouth and move forward at the rate of 1 mm a month to push out worn front teeth at regular intervals.

The manatee needs an immense amount of food in order to maintain its great weight of up to 680 kg! To achieve this, it will eat between 8% and 15% of its own body weight each day.

The dense bulk of the manatee helps to keep it steady in the water as it feeds. It usually feeds submerged, but will occasionally rise above the water.

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HOW TO GROW A LEYLANDII HEDGE

How to grow a Leylandii hedge


Despite the poor publicity that surrounds Leylandii hedging, they are still one of the best hedging conifers around. Yes they can grow to extreme proportions and yes, they can cause neighbour disputes, but when kept under control its growth can be more dense and compact than any other hedging species available today. If you are obsessed with straight lines and sharp edges then Leylandii hedging is the hedging for you.

How to grow a Leylandii hedge
Plant Leylandii hedging from April to May or from October to November at a spacing of between 18 inches to 3 ft depending on how tall you require your hedge. Spring planting is usually recommended, however to give them the best start the ground should be prepared over the previous autumn and winter.

Leylandii hedging will require a good, deeply cultivated soil, but remove all perennial weed roots and provide a thick layer or well-rotted farm manure or garden compost 12 inches below the surface before planting. For taller specimens or when planted in exposed positions, consider providing support such as sturdy bamboo canes. If the site is particularly wet or prone to waterlogging then raise the soil level to create a slight ridge of approximately 12 inches high and 24 inches across.

Mature Leylandii hedge
Plant in a single row using a garden line to ensure a straight hedge or a guide-line for a curved hedge. Dig a square hole about twice the width of the rootball of the plant, although depending on the ground it can sometimes be easier just to dig a trench. It may seem odd in this instance but dig the hole about two inches deeper than the rootball of the plant as the soil level will drop over time. Do not disturb the roots or the root ball when planting. The newly planted leylandii will need to be watered once or twice a week during their first growing season, more during dry spells during the spring and early summer. Do not allow any other plants including weeds to grow with in 12 inches of the hedge. Apply a top dressing of well-rotted farm manure or garden compost the following spring.

Don't wait for the plants to reach their designated height before trimming back as this can result in bare and straggly growth at the base. Trim back any branches that do not fit with the the shape you want your hedge. This will encourage the hedge to thicken out quickly.

Once the height of your Leylandii hedge is within 6 inches of the height required prune out the leaders. This will also help the plants thicken out.

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HOW TO CARE FOR PENGUIN TETRA

How to care for Penguin tetra

While tetra species and hybrids are not particularly well known for their personalities, however the unusual 'head-up' swimming position of penguin tetra gives them an addition point of interest as well as endowing them with a certain amount of character.

Like many other commonly-found aquarium tetra species. penguin tetra are native to small streams and rivers in the Amazon Basin in Peru, and the Araguaia river - one of the major rivers of Brazil. Yet despite their exotic origins have easily adapted to aquarium conditions.

How to care for penguin tetra
As you would expect, Penguin tetra will be happiest when kept in acidic, soft water (especially if you intend to breed them) however they have proven tolerant of a pH between 5.8-8.5. They will also require a temperature of between 64-82° F, and a KH 4-8.

Penguin tetra are known to be sensitive to levels of Ammonia, Nitrite and excessive concentrations of Nitrate, so make sure that your regular, partial water changes are indeed regular!

Penguin tetra are a schooling species and display nervous or stressful behaviour when kept in small groups or as individuals. They are best kept in peaceful community aquariums in shoals of at least 6, but preferably far more. Avoid keeping them with boisterous or aggressive fish species and provide plenty of cover, such as aquatic plants or bogwood, for hiding places should they become spooked.

This species will readily adapt to flake food, but to maintain optimum condition also provide freeze-dried, gamma-irradiated of live bloodworms, daphnia, brine shrimp etc, Avoid tubifex worms due to risk of infections.

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HOW TO GROW HEDERA CANARIENSIS 'GLOIRE DE MARENGO'


Hedera canariensis 'Gloire de Marengo' is one of the most popular of all the ornamental, large-leaved ivies. The species Hedera canariensis is native to the Atlantic coast of northern Africa and Canary islands and as such the 'Gloire de Marengo' is not as hardy as many of its other closely related species and cultivars.

It is a vigorous, evergreen climbing plant able reach a height of between 2.5-4 metres once established. It will be happy trained up a trellis, garden wall, over a fence, or allowed to spread across the soil as ground cover.

When grown in northern European climates, Hedera canariensis 'Gloire de Marengo' will require a warm, sheltered position in either full sun or partial shade. Try to avoid heavy shade, as light helps to bring out the variegation.

It will be happy in most ordinary garden soils, so long as they are moist and well-drained. New planted specimens may require watering during their first year during warm, dry spells.

In regions which experience periods of prolonged, freezing temperatures, foliage and new seasons growth can be damaged in hard winters, although it will reliably re-grow back in the spring. However to maintain the quality of the plant's colourful, glossy leaves, it is advisable to plant Hedera canariensis 'Gloire de Marengo' against a south-facing wall. The additional protection of horticultural fleece may also be required.

Pot grown specimens are best planted in mild weather from September to March.

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WHAT IS GRAPESHOT?


If you have had the opportunity to watch even just one period navel or pirate film, the chances are that 'grapeshot' is going to be mentioned at some point. Unsurprisingly it has nothing to do with firing vine fruits at the enemy, so what exactly is 'grapeshot'?

Unlike other forms of artillery shot, Grapeshot is not just one solid element but a mass of small metal balls or slugs, usually of lead or iron, packed tightly into a canvas bag. Typically, the balls were held in clusters of three by iron rings and combined in three or four tiers by cast-iron or wooden plates and a central connecting rod. This assembly had the appearance of a cluster of grapes which is reflected in its name. It was used mostly as a cannon charge, and when the weapon was fired the grapeshot broke up and spread out in flight like a shotgun charge.

Grapeshot was widely used in wars of the 18th and 19th centuries in both land and naval warfare. It was fired at short range, primarily as an antipersonnel weapon, being most effective against massed troops.

When used in naval warfare, larger grapeshot balls were also cast so that there were able to cut rigging, destroy spars, blocks, and puncture multiple sails.

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WHAT IS GRAPESHOT?