August Gardeners’ Blog 2018
Although for many it’s holiday season, work at the Gardens is full on!
The wisteria, both on the Pavilion Tearoom and the boundary wall in the Alpine Yard, will have their second pruning this year. Many years ago, Wisteria was sometimes called “two and eight plants”. This didn’t refer to old currency, but was to help remember what months they needed to be pruned in. This encourages the plant to form flower buds rather than green growth.
Feeding is also a big job this month – most plants will now need a high potash (potassium) fertiliser to encourage more flowers. Tomato food is an excellent source of potash and, if you look on the bottle, you will notice something called NPK. These are the three main nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus and kalium (Potassium). Nitrogen is for leaves or shoots, phosphorus is for roots and potassium is for flowers and fruits. Shoots, roots, flowers and fruits!
Horticultural staff and volunteers will all be doing their fair share of weeding around the place too. Annual weeds such as annual willow-herb, pearlwort and bitter cress will be hoed off and left to dry out in the strong sunshine. Perennial weeds such as Oxalis, dandelion and perennial nettle will have to be removed using a hand fork or garden fork, to ensure no roots are left behind.
In addition, during August, the Butterfly House will be stocked with 100 pupae every week, keeping it full of gorgeous butterflies until the first week of September. The Gardens buy these pupae from Stratford Butterfly Farm and carefully glue them the right way up onto bamboo canes. Some adult butterflies only live for two to three weeks, so we have to keep it stocked up with pupae. Once emerged, the butterflies feed on nectar of Buddleja, Lantana and tropical Vinca, as well as sugar water from the plastic feeders and the fermented, rotting banana, apple and orange.
Don’t forget to move your houseplants into a cool, shady room or in a shady spot outside if you’re going on holiday. By giving them a good soak before you go, they should last for a week or two until you get back.