Date: April 15, 2014
Indoors and outdoors there’s a hive of gardening activity: rotavating, planting, sowing, hoeing, weeding, grass cutting, hardening off of seedlings and most importantly, the harvest of lots of salads, herbs, spring onions, rhubarb, parsnips, and delicious sea-kale.
The bays of the glasshouse are filling up rapidly and with temperatures rising this month, growth is increasing in parallel. Christmas sown potatoes (‘Colleen’ and ‘Casablanca’ varieties) will be ready for harvest at the end of the month. With our four-year crop rotation in place, Tomato plants are in new bays this year, supported from above with twine which will be wrapped around each plant as it grows; mypex weed control fabric covers the ground to prevent competition from weeds and also to help reduce the risk of pest and diseases in this organic growing environment.
Courgette plants have also been planted; the Broad Beans will need staking now, the peas already have their supports. The Aubergine plants harden off on the benches before being planted. Successional sowings of plants that are prone to bolting such as salad leaves and herbs will take place fortnightly from now on.
In the Growing room, Cucumbers have been sown and Pepper seedlings in modules will be potted on this week.
Over in the Kitchen Garden, Broad Beans plugs raised indoors have been planted out; here also, onions, spring onions, chives, garlic chives, and parsley can be found. Cat mint (Nepeta) with it’s aromatic leaves and lavender blue flowers is an excellent perennial plant for our pollinators the bees, and for attracting other beneficial flying insects such as hoverflies, all playing their part in ‘companion planting’ for organic vegetable growing. The silvery-green foliage of the Globe artichokes makes a spectacular backdrop at this time of year.
The Herb garden is coming into it’s own now, over 70 herbs grow happily here in the parterre, each herb in it’s own bed enclosed by box hedging. The bronze fennel, garlic chives, mint, sweet cicely, salad burnet and buckler leaf sorrel to name a few have all put on their new season’s growth. The gardeners are using the oscillating hoe this month to remove small seedlings in the fertile soil.
The edible hedge near the glasshouse is displaying white spring blossoms with plants such as: Plums (Prunus domestica ‘Czar’), Cobnuts (Corylus avellana ‘Butler’, ‘Kentish’and ‘Tonda di Giffoni’), Damsons (Prunus insititia ‘Merryweather’) and Hawthorn (Crataegus arnoldiana) to name a few. We look forward to harvesting their fruits and nuts in the Autumn.
It’s a colourful spring for sure, the bulbs and spring flowers are in their glory, daffodils, Snowflake (Leucojum vernum), Muscari (Muscari armeniacum), Snake’s Head Fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris), Primroses (Primula vulgaris), Forget-me-not (Myosotis), all helping to brighten up all areas of the gardens, but in particular the Ornamental Fruit Garden.
The magnificent Cherry blossoms are in flower, it’s said they announce the onset of spring more reliably than the clocks going forward. A beautiful white cherry blossom (Prunus Tai Haku) greets all visitors on arrival in the car park.
Along with the cherry blossoms, the Magnolias are truly spectacular this year. The enormous pink goblet-shaped flowers of Magnolia x soulangeana are almost luminous in the old Pleasure Garden. By the pond the large Japanese Cherry is in full bloom, providing shade to the ducks and geese in this warm spring sunshine.
Below in Wilson’s Wood, the wild garlic or Ramson (Allium ursinum) is plentiful. Its delicious garlic flavour is perfect for salads, pesto or soup; the white delicate flowers provide a presentable and tasty garnish. A similar wild plant, the three-cornered wild garlic or three-cornered leek (Allium triquetrum), is also in flower. It too can be used in the same way for cooking. It must be noted that care should be taken when foraging.
The long double Herbaceous borders are showing their spring colour, with many varieties of tulips displaying deep reds, yellows, white and pinks and Bergennia cordifolia ‘Purpurea’ giving a lovely magenta-pink colour to the edges. It’s time to stake the emerging perennials now, which will give the necessary support throughout the months ahead.
At the back of the borders, weeping pear trees (Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’) display their delicate white scented flowers and silver/grey leaves. Beneath them, the hellebores continue to show their blossoms!