Gardeners’ Blog – July

July is always a busy month at the Gardens, but it’s also one of the most enjoyable!

This July, we will be cutting our lawns a little less than normal as they recover from the 35,000 visitors we had for the Jurassic Kingdom. We are busy filling in ruts with topsoil so that the mowers can work efficiently again. We have put down some grass seed, but unless we have a lot of rain, we don’t really expect the seed to grow. We will overseed the areas in the autumn.

The weeds that were under control are now back in force, and all our staff will be busy hoeing them down, and letting the sun shrivel them up, the second section of the herbaceous border will be sprayed out again, ready for replanting. The 2000 plants have been ordered ready for the autumn. We also intend putting up information about the plants in the section that was redone last winter.

We have recently ordered 1000 new labels for plants in the garden and these will be going out ASAP.

Our baskets and urns around the gardens are being watered every day and feed once a week with a liquid feed high in potash, potash is formed from the element potassium (symbol K) and this will keep them flowering as long as dead flower heads are removed regularly. If the plant goes to seed its job is done and it stops flowering

There are some helichrysum and lavenders around the gardens that have become woody and need replacing, so we will be taking semi – ripe wood cuttings, cuttings that are turning woody at the base but still soft at the tip (the growing point or meristem). Cuttings should not be longer than 4’’ to 6’’, cut non flowering wood with a sharp pair of secateurs just below a leaf node (the place where the leaf joins the stem) and remove the tip, it is likely to wilt if left on. If the shrub has large leaves reduce by 50% to reduce water loss. Fill a pot with free draining compost; insert the cuttings in pre made holes around the circumference. Cuttings placed to the edge seem to root quicker and easier, perhaps better air exchange and drainage. Water well and allow pot to drain, place a polythene bag over the pot, and stand in a warm area out of the sun. Turn the polythene bag inside out at intervals, to regulate the moisture content and avoid excess moisture. Once rooted, harden off and re-pot when large enough to handle easily new plants are large enough to handle.

The dahlia collection is now on the Loudon Terrace and is being watered and feed very regularly as dahlias are greedy feeders. The salvias that have taken over the dahlia patch in the Trials Garden are coming to life, plenty of flowers and vibrant colours.

And, the day the perfume can be noticed on the Main Lawn. The species roses that were planted earlier this year have settled down and are putting on growth. We are trying species roses to the rear of the Lawn Aviary, hoping they can cope with the shade, as they are more robust roses than some of the floribundas.

The glasshouse team will be busy this month keeping the glasshouses tidy and the Butterfly House in tip-top condition in time for the summer holidays. They will also be putting out hundreds of new labels on the indoor plants so that all visitors can quickly identify their favourites! The plant propagation of indoor plants from seeds and cuttings will continue in the nursery throughout the summer, helping to stock the glasshouses with new plants for next year.