Gardeners’ Blog – May 2018
Peace has returned to the Gardens this month as the tree surgeons have completed the final part of their work. We will now be evaluating new planting opportunities, looking to replant new trees where old specimens have been removed due to ill health or for safety reasons. We never remove trees unless there is valid reason. On top of this, towards the end of the month we will also be planting out all of the summer bedding plants and tender perennials, once the risk of frost has passed. There is also an ongoing battle raging on between the gardening team and weeds, we turn our backs for five minutes and weeds have suddenly appeared and are growing at the rate of knots.
We also have some prickly customers to deal with this month! We are hoping to plant out the Cacti, along with other succulents, into their summer positions on the terrace. This job involves most of the team as these plants are incredibly heavy, not to mention easy to damage. It’s a job which can be painful, but the overall impact, once they are planted together, is superb.
Other ongoing jobs will be pruning early-flowering shrubs, once they have finished flowering. A general rule to invigorate an old shrub is to remove a third of the oldest wood at the base, as this will encourage new growth from the bottom (meaning flowers will be eye level, where they can be appreciated).
Butterfly House Opening
In addition to this, during May the indoor team will be busy preparing the Butterfly House for its opening on Saturday 26th May. Buddleja, Lantana, Bougainvillea, Catharanthus and Pentas are just a few nectar plants which will be grown, providing sweet nectar for the butterflies. Sugar water feeders and saucers of fermenting fruit such as bananas, apple and oranges are also a delicious food source for these fantastic, delicate creatures, and will be regularly available for them. Each week, 100 pupae will be delivered from Stratford Butterfly Farm and carefully glued the right way up onto bamboo canes. These pupae contain beautiful tropical butterflies from the Philippines and Central America. If you are lucky, you may see one or two emerge! As usual, the Butterfly House will be open daily until Sunday 2nd September.
In the Mediterranean House, the 21 metre floral display will be changed to a stunning, colourful summer display of Canna, Begonia, Nemesia, Petunia, Hibiscus and Heliotrope, which will flower until October. Watering will be a big daily job in the glasshouses and nursery now the weather is warmer, as every plant needs to be checked daily and watered by hand. Not only does this include over a thousand different plants, but also around 4000 summer bedding plants grown on in our nursery, before being planted outside at the end of May.
May Gardening Tips
If you’re planning to get out in your garden this month, make sure you do the following:
- Make sure that you regularly cut your lawn to encourage new growth
- Ensure you apply a summer lawn feed that contains plenty of nitrogen to prevent weeds
- Ventilate greenhouses during the day to avoid overheating
- Watch out for lily beetles on Fritillary’s and Lilies. Make sure you check your plants regularly and remove the red beetles and their larvae
- Continue to feed houseplants once every 7 to 10 days
- Feed daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs with a high potash feed and make sure you leave the foliage to completely die down before removing it
- Keep on top of your weeding and use a hoe to cut the weeds in warm weather
- Prune early flowering shrubs by removing a third of the old wood from the base, encouraging new growth