Gardeners’ Blog – November 2016

This month we are looking forward to a firework display on Saturday 5 November – the only time that the fantastic colours of our trees will be outshone.

The Gardens look particularly lovely at the moment, with many trees and shrubs changing colour. You can see yellow, orange, red and purple all around. The maples have changed particularly quickly this year, and the carpets of fallen leaves look highly decorative.

The gardeners will mainly be clearing leaves from paths and readying the Gardens for the winter.

Clearing leaves is a very time consuming but vital job and we are looking for ways to make this job easier, by investigating the purchase of a leaf suction machine that will pump leaves straight into the trailer. The large fan, which picks up the leaves, will also shred them, helping them break down to compost faster.

Gardeners and volunteers will be busy lifting tender plants and placing them in a frost-free area in the Nursery. Salvias, fuchsias, mimulus, cannas and bananas are being lifted and re-potted, and in some cases, cuttings taken. When these plants are lifted it is important to put them in a fairly light, free draining material, as dense compost could get too wet and cause rotting. We are taking a lot of salvia cuttings as they are going to take centre stage in the Trials Garden next year as the Dahlias are going to the Loudon Terrace.

Dahlias will be left in the ground until the first frost has blackened their stems and then they will be brought inside, and put in trays of open free draining compost for winter storage.

We are also getting ready to protect our tree ferns, by enclosing the top metre within a hessian duvet stuffed with straw.

The emptied section of the Herbaceous Border has been replanted, with the plants that were brought in March. Having spent the last six months being cared for in the Nursery, they have made significant growth and are filling up the border nicely. Go and have a look before they shut down for the winter. The other section of the border will now be emptied, hopefully by the students from Birmingham Metropolitan College.

We are still planting tulip bulbs – believe it or not, they actually benefit from the cold weather as there is less chance of Tulip Fire; a fungus that can completely spoil the flowers.

The old butterfly border is being revamped, as it has become very wet, and so we are changing the planting to suit the new conditions. Many plants that enjoy the presence of water at their roots will be going back into this area when the bed has been cleared.

More butterfly-friendly plants will be put around the Grass Garden. These plants usually have single flowers so that there is plenty of nectar to attract and feed the butterflies.

Wayne will also bring in forced Christmas flowering hyacinths and daffodils from a shaded cold frame into one of the glasshouses to trick them into an early spring.

If you visit the glasshouses this month, you’ll find refreshed floral displays in the Mediterranean House, ready for Christmas. Wayne will be removing the chrysanthemums when they finish flowering and will be replacing them with poinsettia. There will be space, however, to add the Christmas flowering lily of the valley, hyacinths and daffodils in December.

We are often asked “what is your favourite plant” each season. At the moment, we’re loving the changing display of leaf colour. The Spindle (euonymus) and Smoke (Cotinus) bushes are performing incredibly well – the reds of the foliage look stunning. See them around the bandstand and in the Grass Garden.

Finally, we’re preparing for our new winter attraction, the Magical Lantern Festival, which will enable everyone to see the Garden under a new light – please come along.