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Wisley's Alpine Log
By Paul Cumbleton

Log 19 11th September 2008

After the mention of cat litter in the last log, a former colleague of mine contacted me to say he had followed this up and has provided me with a lot more information, provided by Tesco and by Steetly, the company that supply the product (see www.steetley.com ). Tesco Premium Cat Litter is in fact exactly the same product sold elsewhere for horticulture under the names Biosorb or Ultrasorb or Moler. These are used extensively on sports turf ground for water drainage (golf courses especially), as well as for mopping up oil and chemical spillages. All three products are made of Danish Moler clay. The horticultural versions do not have the scent that is added to the cat litter version. Moler is available in three grades, fine (0.5 to 1mm diameter particles), standard (1 to 3mm) and coarse (3 to 6mm). Seramis is also a form of Moler clay, so it is not surprising that the cat litter works as well, as the two are almost identical. My colleague provided this picture of what the Tesco cat litter looks like once it h
as been wetted:

Wet Tesco Premium cat litter

It is important to buy exactly the right one - Tesco also do a CLUMPING cat litter which is similarly packaged and of no horticultural use, so look at the packs carefully! The same products are also sold as another brand of cat litter called Sophisticat (this is the clumping version) and Sophisticat PINK (which is the normal molar clay - this is the one to buy). The pH of these products is about 5.5. The main benefit of buying any of these is the price, as it costs only half or even less of the price of Seramis. This is especially so if anyone is prepared to buy in bulk. Steetly simply call the bulk product "Moler Horticultural Additive" and they WILL supply amateurs, but only in bulk amounts of either 1 tonne bags or a pallet full of 30Kg bags. The cost is about £300 per tonne plus vat. Moler can also be bought from gardening suppliers such as John McLauchlan Horticulture (see http://www.viresco-uk.com ) but is VERY expensive from such suppliers (the prices there work out around £1733.00 per tonne compared
to the £300 per tonne from the manufacturer, although their price does not include VAT). One Kg of Moler is about 2 litres by volume. So comparing all the prices to give the price per litre, you get this (if I've done my sums right!):

Moler direct from manufacturer: 15 pence per litre (in bulk)
Moler from Tesco as cat litter: 31 pence per litre (16 litre pack)
Moler from John McLauchlan: 87 pence per litre (30 litre bag)

Compare these to Seramis prices:

Seramis direct from the importers: 33 pence per litre (in bulk only)
Seramis from garden centre: 76 pence per litre (typical price for 15 litre pack)
Seramis from garden centre: 99 pence per litre (typical price for 2.5 litre pack)

Excepting unless you are able to buy in bulk, the cat litter is almost 3 times cheaper than buying Moler or Seramis from a gardening retailer. Just shows how much mark up gardeners sometimes have to pay. The obvious choice is to head to Tesco!

Now back to the garden. You may remember that last year we had the Surrey Sculpture Society exhibiting works in the garden. They have returned this year and here are a just a few out of the 73 sculptures currently on display. The first is "Otter Pair" in bronze resin and by John Penrose:

Otter pair

Next a piece called "Avarice" in Stainless steel & glass by Jane Bohane:


"Giraffe" is by Gilbert Whyman, made in welded steel


Animals generally are a popular theme this year. One in particular has amused a lot of visitors, especially children - "Fish on a Bicycle" by Daren Greenhow. This is in steel and seems to include many bits of old bikes.

Fish on a Bicycle

It was however a live visitor that seemed to be getting most attention on one day…

Swan on the Glasshouse lake

Standing out in its use of a natural material was "Together Forever" by Roger Day, carved from Californian Redwood. This picture shows two views side by side:

Together Forever

In painted steel by Anne Gingell, "Dusky Totem" rose up out of the surrounding planting:

Dusky Totem

One of my personal favourites is "The Jurassic Hole" in bronze resin by Eric Duggan

The Jurassic Hole

"Intersection" also in bronze resin by Jonathan Hately has a fish theme:


Next to this on the trail is "Baby Zebra" by Jacqui Stevens, again in the same material:

Baby Zebra

Two that used different materials were "The Pearl of Immortality" in porcelain and mirror by Jennifer Urmenyi and "A Space Beyond" in bonded glass by Peter Newsome

The Pearl of Immortality

A Space Beyond

Returning to animal themes, a striking cat was "Sentient Feline" in iron/marble resin by Teresa Martin and "Hello Mr Wolf" in aluminium by Carlos Dare

Sentient Feline

Hello Mr Wolf

Using copper wire mesh, "Midsummer Muse" by Nikki Taylor:

Midsummer Muse

Looking at the head of this in close up you can see the use of the mesh in detail:

Midsummer Muse head

Yet more animals…"Panda" using mixed media by Juliet Simpson and "Winged Duck" in Steel by Daren Greenhow were popular, as was "Flying In" in bronze resin by Sue Nicholson


Winged Duck

To end the sculpture tour here is "Newton's Opus Opticks 1-6" by Teresa Martin in iron/bronze/copper resin, with one of them then shown in close up

Newton's Opus Opticks 1-6

Newton's Opus Opticks 1-6 detail

Finally just to remind us that plants are more normally our focus, a reminder of the great display the Cyclamen hederifolium are making at the moment…

Cyclamen hederifolium

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