Gardeners Blog – February 2019

This month we are focusing in preparing the grounds for spring, working the lawns and carrying out some pruning of our beloved trees and shrubs.

In February everything starts to come alive, with winter flowering shrubs adding colour and scent around the pathways and countless Hamamelis, Viburnum and Sarcococca springing into life. Visitors may even be lucky enough to see a peppering of snowdrops (Galanthus, if you prefer Latin), having been planted around the gardens over the last few years. Emblematic of spring, these delights are often the first sign of warmer weather ahead. In addition to this, hellebores and winter aconites will be putting on a show under the glowing stems of dogwoods and willows. Evidently, the winter border will be looking at its best, with a variety of flowers and plants brightening it up and welcoming spring to the gardens.

Moving through the gardens, you’ll be able to see that a number of hedges are still being cut and pruned. After a number of years, some of our hedges become large and wild – by reducing their height it allows them to be maintained much more easily. This is not the ideal time of year to be cutting hedges this drastically, but the outside team can spare the time to carry out large tasks like this in winter months. A good deal of work on the mature trees is also carried out during the winter months, after the tree surveys in autumn.

We are also working on repairing worn grass areas after parts were slightly damaged after the Christmas lighting event. Hopefully, if the weather will allow and we do not get too much rain or snow, we can use fresh topsoil to level the ground in preparation for over seeding and, in some areas, laying new turf. To prevent weed growth we will also be adding our own homebrewed compost, also helping to conserve water and prevent the ground drying out in the summer months.

February is the month when one of our most iconic plant comes into full bloom. This is Cyclamen coum, which you can see planted en masse throughout the Gardens. Several other Cyclamen species flower in winter:  we keep them in our nurseries or on display in the glasshouse by the Alpine Yard. These are Cyclamen persicum (from which the florist cyclamen are bred), C. elegans and C. alpinum (closely related to C. coum), C. libanoticum, C. parviflorum, C. balearicum, C. creticum and C. x schwarzii.  On the subject of Cyclamen, the Cyclamen Society will be having its winter show at the gardens on Sunday 10th February; you can find more information here (https://www.cyclamen.org/shows)

The Rose Garden will be adorned with new obelisks, to be placed at the centre of each individual bed and provide support for climbing or rambling roses. Also February is the time when horticultural maintenance on roses slowly restart. Depending of the harshness of the season, winter pruning can be initiated and the ground cleaned and cleared in view of the forthcoming spring flush.

On the Loudon Terrace we are experimenting for the first time this year a winter-interest display in the half moon bed. This is a temporary planting, alternating with the summer display of cacti and other succulents (May to October). The Garden Team have tried to employ a variety of plants here, so providing a diverse interest by enhancing the quality of flowers, barks and evergreen foliage.

In the Glasshouses, seasonal winter pruning has completed in good time. Only a few plants still need a little prune, for example Ceiba pentandra and Ficus religiosa. From the next month onwards, the plants will start putting new fresh growth and… height! It is important by then that their size is not already too big, and that’s the reason of the winter pruning maintenance regime.

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