We are now officially open. a quick initial opening of the plant sales area over the Easter weekend before an official opening of the site on 14th of April. The garden is starting to feel like its old self again. Our loyal season ticket holders have not forgotten us, with many choosing to renew their membership and visit the garden. Many holiday makers are already arriving coming from across the UK.
This month in the garden it has been all about the bluebells displays, enchanting flowering cherries and the more subtle flowering dogwoods. Everywhere you look plants are emerging and unfurling in the first green flush of growth. Blue sky, dry and sunny weather, has framed the garden beautifully.
Jobs in the Garden
One of the main focuses of the garden team during April has been plant propagation in our propagation house and plant nursery. Before taking on the job of head gardener, I had never been personally responsible for the maintenance and management of a plant nursery. It has been quite eye opening to see just how much effort and hard work is involved in keeping everything neat, tidy, and organised.
Especially important given, that we also have an Online Shop now in addition to our plant sales area. Jobs that have been completed include.
- Now that the days have warmed up, the risk of frost is diminished. Plants that have overwintered under the protection of polytunnels and cold frames are also being moved out to the standing out areas to harden off.
- The polytunnel and cold frames need to be weeded and tidied before they are refilled with the potted-on cuttings that were taken late last year. Plants propagated by cuttings include Camellia, Salvia, herbaceous perennials and tree and shrub cuttings.
- Seed sowing, most especially Primulas, are now carpeting the benches.
- Due to the national lockdown plant sales were much reduced and as we entered autumn 2020, where normally we would have sold most of our plant stock, we instead found that our nursery area was overflowing with plants that needed attention. After a winter dormancy. These plants need to be given royal treatment, to be top dressed, tidied and in many cased divided.
- Generally, the nursery needs to be weeded and looked after. We are fortunate to have a large and fine specimen of a copper beech growing along the lane that runs above our garden. Its branches grow directly above our plant nursery area. Every winter this fine tree drops many leaves which need to be collected and swept.
Two of our most adept propagators and longest serving gardens here at Marwood Hill Gardeners are Malcolm and Lin. I hope they do not mind me mentioning but they have been having a bit of a competition to see whose camellia cuttings have come out the best. Lin seems to be taking the lead. Below are images of their plants.
Like any landscape the garden paths need to be maintained. Early in the month, we began covering many of the garden paths with woodchip. In certain parts of the garden the paths have been deeply rutted by our garden vehicle this has been filled in with with topsoil. Garden benches have also been dusted off and placed out in their allocated locations.
The partial replanting of the Herbaceous borders has now been completed. This work will hopefully extend the flower season of these beds. With purple flowering honesty bringing colour to the later part of March and blue flowering Monkshood and varieties of salvias keeping interest well into November.
The team has begun to clear through and tidy the bog garden area. With attention first on the newly planted areas and moving onto the beds running adjacent to the stream.
We welcome back four garden volunteers to the garden and one new volunteer. Brenda and Sue are both longstanding garden volunteering at Marwood both are approaching twenty years at Marwood hill gardens. Brenda is chief pot washer and has her work cut out with more than 1000 dirty pots to work through. Sue is an ace dead-header and weeder. Pat and Pete have also returned, they have hit the nursery with enthusiasm, helping us weed and organise the plant nursery.
A final change that you may notice is our popular spiral bench at the top of Topfield (north facing slope of garden) has been dismantled and is in the process of being rebuilt. This bench is more than 30 years old and was originally constructed of Leylandii wood. A tree that is generally loved and hated equally, its wood is very long lasting. We will rebuild this bench gradually, initially using wood from last years fallen Eucalyptus and Pterocarya (Wingnut) trees. The bench will remain a circle until the next treefalls, at which point we will restore it to its full spiral glory.
We have finally completed cutting back dogwood from lower lake bank. As I mentioned in March’s blog these shrubs extended far into the lower lake and needed to be pulled out with force. As usual our garden volunteer, Oliver, who is happy to throw himself into the hardest of tasks, has managed to pull the plants out of the lake whilst working from a steep bank and all without falling in.
Tips for your Garden
- Pricking out seedlings and potting on cuttings
- Begin weeding. Get them now while small and easy to remove before more of a problem later. Lesser Celandine, chickweed, cleavers, nettles, watercress are problems in the garden. Though do leave some of these plants for benefit of wildlife in corners of garden if possible.
- Pond weed treatment for ponds, cleaning out of pond pumps.
- Clearing out cold frames and hardening plants off.
- Now is an ideal time to divide many herbaceous perennials just as or before the active growth emerges. Including perennial geraniums, Michaelmas daisies (Symphyotrichum), stonecrops (Hylotelephium), Crocosmia and Campanula.
- Removing old fronds from deciduous ferns
- Now the risk of frost has past start deadheading hydrangea flowerheads, as new flower buds appear so new blooms can be better admired.
Plant of the month: Geum ‘Lipstick Sunset’
We’re have started to increase the range of geums we have available in our plant shop and planed within the garden. Initially favouring firm favourites such as red flowering ‘Mrs Bradshaw’ and orange ‘Totally Tangerine’ we have started adding some more unusual varieties, Geum ‘Lipstick sunset, ‘East of Eden’ and ‘Marika’ being a few of the newer selections. Geums are low maintenance plants, they grow equally well when planted in the ground or as part of a container display. To encourage repeat flowering ensure you keep them deadheaded.