Gardeners’ Blog – March 2016

It’s the beginning of meteorological spring – a time when we can really look forward to seeing the fruits of our labours and also prepare for the coming growing seasons.

Chris and her team of gardeners are gearing up for an incredibly busy month – they’ve already planted 2,500 snowdrops beneath the cedar tree by the bandstand, which has provided a welcome splash of colour. They will only get better over the next few years, too. (If you have a chance, buy some snowdrops ‘in the green’ to enhance your spring garden next year.)

Chris is hoping to get the lawn mowers out in force this month after a very wet – and now frosty – winter, which has left the grass long and the ground very soggy.

One job that should be completed soon is the new overflow from the Rock Garden Pool. Contractors have been on site constructing it, which will hopefully stop the problem of water flowing beneath the new Memory Pool liner. It should mean an end to the team manually emptying the pool every fourth day down the path. The plan is to conserve the water and use it to water the Nursery.

The team is also busy getting the vegetable garden ready for the new season. Compost has been spread and dug in, seeds are being sown in the glasshouses and the first batch of salad crops has been sown under plastic sheeting in the vegetable patch. The polythene helps to retain heat, warming the soil, which puts the seeds ahead of the game.

We’ve got potatoes chitting in the glasshouses, ready to be planted in large pots where they will be earthed up. A volunteer kindly donated Charlotte and Pink Fir Apple varieties, which are delicious salad potatoes.

We rely a lot on our fantastic volunteers. This month they will be joining the gardening team to undertake weeding and edging. They’ll also be tasked with pruning the Buddleias and Salix, as well as cutting off last year’s foliage from the epimediums so that the new flowers will be seen at their best.

March is a great time to make new cloches and these will be covered with mesh to deter attacks by birds and butterflies. This is particularly important where we’ll be growing cabbages.

If you are visiting the Gardens this month, don’t forget to have a look at our bamboo maze, which is looking very smart. We’ve been tidying it up, filling gaps and redoing the paths.

If roses are your passion, you’ll love what we’ve done with two beds in the Rose Garden. We’ve replanted them with new varieties including Jude the Obscure, a rose with a wonderful fragrance; Tranquillity; The Lark Ascending and The Lady of Shalott. These will complement the roses that were planted last year.

This month, the flowering cherries will be coming into flower, while a burst of yellow daffodils will brighten up the borders. Camellias will also be in their prime – all good reasons for visiting the Gardens.

The glasshouse team will continue with its final stock taking on the indoor plant collection. So far, Wayne has completed 28 out of 33 plant beds, which has resulted in 232 accessions in the Tropical House, 525 in the Subtropical, 110 in the Mediterranean and 136 in the Arid – just over 1,000 accessions.

March will see the team staking the daffodils, tulips, stocks and Schizanthus in the 21-metre Mediterranean House floral display, which will come into its own in April.

The Mediterranean House will also take delivery of a number of brightly coloured Bougainvillea, which will be planted in large pots and their stems trained up into the roof.

A top-dressing of gravel in the centre beds in the Mediterranean House will give it a new lease of life, while a top-dressing of compost to the beds in the Tropical and Subtropical House borders will not only look tidy, but will also help to supress weeds and lock in moisture in the ground.