Go behind the scenes, meet the team and get some great tips for your own garden at home. Join us as we look back at the week that was…
Horticultural Practitioner Jude began the week by sowing lots of different annual seeds that will eventually be planted in the garden to help create a colourful summer display. Jude was busy sowing Cosmos for the Walled Garden, giant tobacco plants for the Terrace, and pot marigolds for the Herb Circle.
Jude carefully labelled and watered each seed tray filled with fine, sieved compost before sowing the seeds thinly and covering them with a propagator lid. Once the seeds have germinated, they will be pricked out into larger pots and grown on in our Nursery Area before being planted out in the garden.
“Prick out seedlings when they are large enough to handle and a couple of true seed leaves have emerged. Be careful to always handle the seedling by its leaves and not the stem which can be easily damaged when pricking out. I find that moving seedlings on into modules first, and then 9cm pots later, ensures that they are never over potted.” Jude Fildes, Horticultural Practitioner
On Tuesday Glasshouse Area Supervisor Abby was hard at work changing over the display in the Alpine House. Plants that had finished flowering were removed and taken to our ‘back-up’ alpine frames where they will be looked after until they are ready to go back on display again. Meanwhile, new plants just coming into flower were moved into the Alpine House from the frames in their place.
April is an exciting month in the Alpine House with an abundance of different species all coming into flower at the same time. This is because many alpines are snow-melt plants meaning that they often grow in areas covered in snow for long periods of time. When the snow melts in spring, signalling the start of a short but spectacular growing season, these plants come to life all at once taking advantage of the newly abundant source of water.
“The alpine primulas had gone over and so had the Fritillaria michailovskyi and the last of the Cyclamen coum so I removed these and replaced them with Androsace, Lewisias and Cassiope. I’ve had to move the tulips and Pulsatilla outside to try and keep them flowering for longer and to make some extra room!” Abby Gulliver, Glasshouse Area Supervisor
This previous winter was so mild that we began mowing the lawns occasionally as early as February, but now the spring is upon us mowing is quickly becoming a weekly task. On Wednesday, the Garden Team fired up the mowers again, but this time lowered the height of the cut to it’s final position ready for the summer ahead.
This is an important time of year for lawn care and some hard work now will pay dividends later in the year. Always cut your lawn on a higher setting for the first couple of cuts of the year and lower it gradually after that.
More regular mowing will also give you the opportunity to observe problem areas such as bare patches, an abundance of moss or badly compacted ground. Moss should be killed and scarified at the beginning of the season whilst lawns can also be fed and aerated at the same time. Bare patches will need to be re-seeded but should germinate quickly now with some warm weather and a few April showers.
On Thursday, Deputy Head Gardener Dan was marking out tree planting holes on the Arboretum Lawn in preparation for the planting of 3 new strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo). Strawberry trees make for a brilliant addition to the garden with lush, evergreen foliage and unusual strawberry-like fruits that are quickly gobbled up by birds.
Siting a tree in the garden is an important decision and requires some thought to get it right – trees are long lived plants and can grow into enormous specimens, so they should never be planted in haste. Our strawberry trees will be planted in front a mixed boundary hedge on the far side of the Arboretum Lawn, where they will eventually serve as a screen to the view beyond.
Here, they will have everything they need to thrive; a moist but well-drained, slightly acidic soil with plenty of room to grow into and achieve their full potential. Left alone, strawberry trees can reach staggering heights but we have chosen to grow multi-stemmed specimens that will stay much smaller and provide a denser, evergreen screen all the way down to the ground.
Finally, we said farewell to Head Gardener Steve at the end of the week. Steve has been at Winterbourne for 4 years and is now moving on to a new challenge, taking on the role of Head Gardener in another exciting, newly created garden. During his tenure Steve has led the Garden Team in constantly developing and improving the garden to great success.
He has been the brains behind many now much-loved aspects of Winterbourne including brilliant floral displays in the House, ever changing potted displays on the Terrace, and the ongoing project currently transforming the Arboretum Lawn. The whole team gathered together on Friday to wish him well in his new endeavors for the future.
“Steve has made a considerable impact on the garden, his eye for detail and ability to create something out of what seems like nothing has been one of the many qualities I and many others have admired. A true professional, I know he’ll do well in his new job. A big thank you Steve!” Lee Hale, Head of Winterbourne House and Garden