Gardeners’ Blog – April 2016

We’re almost ready to begin the next phase of the playground and we are hoping to get planning permission for it early this month.

Once we get the go-ahead, work will begin to improve the area and our exciting plans include the building of a large tower, which represents a conifer, which will help to fill the gap made by the removal of a Metasequioa that had started rotting at the base.

The work will also make the duck pen more visible, making better use of the area. Hopefully, we’ll have some ducklings, too, so that visitors can enjoy watching them.

It is a wonderful time to visit the Gardens because there is so much fresh new growth to admire.

We are removing winter protection this month, so the old leaves and straw are being taken away from the Bog Garden to enable the newly emerging gunneras to thrive.

The winter duvets will also be removed from the tree ferns, with the straw being emptied out so that the hessian can be stored easily. We won’t be wasting the leaves and straw, of course: these will be composted.

The wisteria will have its remaining shoots cut back to three buds to encourage larger panicles of flowers.

April is the time for flowering cherries and we are looking forward to them being in full bloom – it’s such a fleeting occurrence – and the magnolias will once again be magnificent. Visit the Rock Garden and you’ll see them all in their splendour.

The culmination of our hard work in September is also coming to fruition on the terrace, where the beautiful hyacinths are scenting the air. These will be followed in May by the tulips.

Grass cutting has started in earnest and we’ve fertilised the grass to replace the nutrients lost over the winter and through cutting last summer. We will also be starting to tidy up the lawn edges, especially on the Terrace.

The Scarecrow Garden is being prepared for its new crop of seeds and plants, ready for another productive year, while the Rose Garden is sending out new growth. Last year’s replacements have really put down their roots and are plumping up, and the new roses are settling in well.

In the nursery, we’ll be potting 6,800 plugs into cells, ready for our summer bedding displays. We won’t plant them out until late May, however, until the risk of frost has passed. Now that the plants are actively growing we will start feeding the indoor plants, according to the instructions on the packet.

We will also be damping down the floors more often to increase the humidity. The evaporation cools the atmosphere and slows transpiration (water loss) through the plants leaves. It also keeps pests, such as red spider mite, at bay because they hate high humidity.

If you’re visiting during April, make a special detour to see the white flowers on the Citrus in the Mediterranean House. These have a wonderful jasmine-like perfume and develop into the oranges and lemons we all love. You’ll also find sweet and spicy-scented stocks, vibrant lily-flowered tulips and red Amaryllis in our Mediterranean House this month.

Wayne’s favourite this month is the Medinilla magnifica in the Tropical House. This is an evergreen shrub from the Philippines that doesn’t grow in the ground like most plants, but grows as an epiphyte, which means it grows on another plant. It has large, pink, chandelier-like flowers and we believe ours is the biggest plant in the UK.

Chris’s favourite plant at the moment is Prunus spinosa – a true harbinger of spring if ever there was one.