Gardeners’ Blog – August 2017
The summer holidays have begun – perfect timing, then, for some new equipment in our Treetops Playground! Expect some fun new additions to the play area during the first half of this month (August).
Watering the most diverse plant collection in the Midlands takes many hours in the hot days of August. Watering in the four display glasshouses is done on a daily basis by hosepipe and takes at least two hours. This is done before you arrive to the Gardens at 10am.
This month, Butterfly House will be stocked with 100 pupae every week. This keeps it full of gorgeous butterflies until the first week of September, when we shut the House for the winter. The Gardens buy these pupae from Stratford Butterfly Farm and carefully glue them the right way up onto bamboo canes in the emerging case. Some adult butterflies only live for two to three weeks, so we have to keep it stocked up with pupae to keep the Butterfly House full. Once emerged, the butterflies feed on nectar of Buddleja, Lantana and tropical Vinca. They also enjoy sugar water from the plastic feeders and the fermented, rotting banana, apple and oranges, where sometimes you see a butterfly that has had too much to drink!
Bedding and deadheading
The Gardens are in full flower and the bedding is coming into its own on the Loudon Terrace and around the Bandstand. Dead heading watering and feeding is being carried out regularly in these areas as well as in the Rose Garden.
The Dahlias on the Loudon Terrace are being disbudded, picked over and tied into the canes and feed on a regular basis by two students from Birmingham Metropolitan College. One of these students has become our new apprentice.
The new plants for the second part of the Herbaceous Border will be arriving in September. So far, the old border has been sprayed out twice, and will probably be sprayed with weed killer once more. Then the bed will be replanted in the autumn. The section replanted last year has come alive over the last few weeks and is looking very floriferous – just what we wanted.
The indoor team are busy filling cells trays with compost ready for our winter bedding plant delivery. 5750 small plug plants will be potted up this month and grown on in the nursery until planting out in late September.
One very important job to be done this month is the choosing of bedding plants and bulbs for the displays next year. Everyone enjoys looking at the glossy brochures as they arrive and deciding what goes where. At the moment we are toying with the idea of an all-white display on the Terrace, with an emphasis on scent. Imagine coming to an evening event, perhaps one of the plays, and seeing ghostly white flowers and catching their beautiful scent as you enter the Gardens?
Speaking of beautiful, the Cyclamen received a lot of care and attention last month when all the plants were repotted into larger clay pots in new compost with a lot of extra grit added. They will be coming into growth this month. Watch out for them in the Alpine House and in the Glasshouse by the Butterfly House.
Weeds, weeds, weeds
After the rain and heat of July the weeds are growing prolifically and weeding is virtually non-stop. Our volunteers are performing heroically giving up their time helping us rid the Gardens of these nasty weeds. We will also be making time to cut more hedges, in particular the beech and mixed hedges.
We have received five tonnes of topsoil that will be spread in the remaining holes caused by the dinosaurs at Jurassic Kingdom earlier this year. This will be firmed down and then reseeded. It’s not really the right time of the year to sow grass seed, but some will germinate if there is rain, and we can over sow in September.