Gardeners’ Blog – March 2018

The gardening staff have been on a bit of an adventure of late, exhibiting the National Cyclamen Collection at the RHS Early Spring Show in Westminster and winning gold! It took weeks to prepare for; plants had to be picked over and monitored around the clock, we had to plan out a design for the display and work out the logistics to allow us to attend. The gardens have not exhibited at a major RHS show for over fifteen years, so it has been a real learning curve for many of us.

In addition to this, a number of grasses and herbaceous plants have been divided and repositioned in the grass garden. Some of the clumps of ornamental grasses have become too large and have flopped over with the weight of the foliage, not quite the look we are going for. However, we like to leave the grasses for as long as possible before we cut then back because the seed heads catch the winter frosts beautifully and look stunning for our visitors.

The team have also been making plans for the summer displays on the terrace – a couple of large shrubs have already been removed from around the pavilion to allow for visitors to admire the view. Dahlias will once again be making a welcome return to the terrace, as well as a number of new varieties, which are being purchased currently.

Meanwhile, the indoor team will be busy re-potting the orchids in the Subtropical House Orchid Case. Early spring is a great time to re-pot them as they have finished flowering and new stem growth is about to come through. Once they are taken out of their pots, all the old compost is removed and any dead roots are trimmed off. We then select a big terracotta pot that has enough space for two years growth and cover the plant in orchid compost. This consists of 10 parts medium grade pine bark, 5 parts fine grade pine bark, 1 ½ parts of perlite and ¼ part granulated charcoal. Bark is also used as many orchids are epiphytes; growing on tree branches in the wild for support.

Lastly, Daffodils grown in pots and cold frames over the winter will now be brought into the cool greenhouse. Green garden canes and string will be used to stake the tall flowers to stop them from falling over. These will also be used in the 21m long floral display in the Mediterranean House during March.

Seasonal Tips for March

If you aren’t sure of what needs to be done in your own garden, why not follow our seasonal tips for March below:

  • Give any bulbs that you have in pots a high-potassium feed every 10-14 days to prolong the display, as well helping the bulb replenish it stores for next year.
  • Lift and split herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses. Not only does it increase your stock, it also allows you to fill up any bare areas in your garden. If you only re-plant the younger growth and discard the old material it will also provide the plants with renewed vigour to grow.
  • Turn your compost heaps. On a cold day this job will warm you up and it will allow the layers of material to mix together, letting in air and helping material to rot. This gives you a much better chance of making high-quality garden compost.
  • Start planting summer flowering bulbs such as Lilles and Gladiolus for a summer display or to use as cut flowers for your house.
  • As Rose buds are fattening up, it’s the perfect time to prune your roses to an outward facing bud.
  • It’s important to clean glasshouses and cold frames ready for the new growing season.
  • Wash plant pots and seed trays to prevent pests and diseases from damaging precious young plants.
  • Sow hardy annuals seeds such as sweet peas (if you didn’t get round to doing it in the autumn) – remember that April will be too late to do this.
  • Start feeding houseplants with a high nitrogen fertiliser every 7 to 14 days to encourage growth.
  • Place Canna, Dahlias and Ginger Lilies in a warm spot in the glasshouse and give them a good water to encourage new growth.