Gardeners’ Blog – March
Spring has sprung
March is set to be a time of clearing up for us here at the Gardens! We were very lucky that the only tree that fell down in storm Doris was in the staff car park, but there is an awful lot of brash in the grounds that will need removing. There is one path that will be closed for a while as there are some hanging branches high in the canopy that the tree surgeons will have to deal with.
While the storm was raging we were taking wind speed measurements at regular intervals – the maximum wind speed registered was 40.2 miles per hour.
We have turned our compost heaps and have some lovely rich compost to spread in the grounds and we will be putting a general purpose fertiliser on the soil first and then spreading a good layer of compost. This will give our shrub beds and hedges a boost for the spring.
As the bulbs are flowering, we will be sprinkling high potash fertiliser on the bulb areas. This will enhance their flowering both this season and help them bulk up for next year. We will not be cutting down the daffodil foliage until it has turned brown and died; again this sends nutrients back to the bulb for next year’s flowers.
There is still some cutting back of summer flowering shrubs to be done, but we have cut back most of the willow and the birds in the aviaries are enjoying the fresh branches. The wisteria is looking the tidiest it has in years, great care has been taken in pruning, reshaping and retying, we expect great things when it flowers.
The overcrowded Grass Garden beds have been weeded and overgrown clumps of Kniphofia ‘Tetbury Torch’ have been split as well as the Geum ‘Cooky’ two great plants with brilliant orange flowers for summer. The newly created drains in the same area have also been finished and the beds replanted with moisture loving plants that include Rodgersia ‘Bronze Peacock’, Ligularia japonica and L. dentata ‘Othello’, Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’and astilbes.
Newly planted shrubs will be checked that they are still firm in the ground so that their roots can forge their way down. We will also be checking that stakes and ties are still needed and adequate for a new year’s growth.
Areas that were prepared for grass seeding after the Magical Lantern festival will be seeded; other areas that were aerated to allow water through have started to grow back, so no problems there.
Start getting geared up for seed sowing, don’t be tempted to start too early as you may end up trying to hold them back before they can be pricked out or planted. If you want to try sowing outside try warming up the soil by covering with fleece before sowing.
Jobs in the nursery during early spring include potting on the Matthiola incana ‘Aida Mixed’ or “stocks”. These will be used to give a sweet, spicy, warm scent to the Mediterranean House in April. Daffodils grown on in pots in cold frames over the winter will now be brought into the cool greenhouse. Green garden canes and string will be used to stake the tall flowers to stop them from falling over. These will also be used in the 21m long floral display in the Mediterranean House during March. Now that the first batch of pruned Tropical trees are growing back well in the Tropical House, the remaining trees such as cocoa, rubber tree and Ficus benghalensis can be pruned to bring in welcome sunlight.