Garden Journal 11.4.20

Tulip time!

What an absolute stunning week of weather we’re having! (Apologies if that opening line jinxed the weather for the rest of Easter by the way!) Temperatures up into the mid-teens and wall-to-wall sunshine have made these last few days an absolute dream, but needless to say it’s been a week if intense gardening activity both at work and home.

My mind is presently fixed on mid-spring activity which includes all the April classics such as mowing, weeding and container work. Generally speaking, there’s still enough moisture in the soil so that weeding is about as easy now as it’s going to get, especially if conditions remain dry – and so if you haven’t started yet, there is no time like the present to get the hoe or cultivator tool on the move!

In terms of the garden at Broadwell, I’ve also been working to ensure that the hard work given out over the winter isn’t wasted now by taking the foot of the gas. For example, the mild winter has allowed me to get on top of some grassy areas that last year had grown a little lengthy, shall we say. In some areas a number of cuts have been made during the cooler months with the height of each cut gradually being reduced – it’s not an exact science, nor does it have to be, but at this stage of the game, and for the mowing equipment available, I’m happy that all is under control.

Where ornamental containers are concerned, many at Broadwell have recently been re-potted, which of course leads to root disturbance and a hit to water uptake until their roots settle into the new compost. The ongoing issue therefore encourages me to monitor the fresh foliage closely for signs of drooping, and to ensure plants are sufficiently irrigated – the plants will communicate their needs one way or another, I just have to watch that I’m not too busy to notice!

My summary for key tasks at Broadwell and home this week: Monday – Watering. Disinfected dahlia storage boxes and various clay containers. Sorted through nursery plants. Initiated shrub border renovation. Tuesday – Completed shrub area work, cleared debris and mulched with leaf mould. Wednesday – Relocated wallflowers and repotted lillies. Mowed lawns. Thursday – Watering. Wood splitting. Furniture moving. Friday – Bank Holiday! Drew together list of autumn 2019 bulb planting for the borders at Broadwell. At home – made paper pots and started sowing ornamental seeds. Made solitary bee hotels with my son for the garden. Generally moved trays of seedlings around the garden to keep them exposed to the sun!

My first main image this week highlights the autumn through to spring journey for on border at Broadwell, and shows some of the first tulip blooms to open. I’m looking forward to seeing the other tulip groups flower over the coming weeks.

Tulip Apricot Beauty
‘Apricot Beauty’, one of the first tulips into flower at Broadwell

Next up is a photo to remind me that mowing is and will continue to be a primary activity for the months ahead. There’s ample lawn area for me to play with and manipulate with a mixture of cutting equipment and mowing regimes, and there’s enough room to develop some good quality wild flower areas too; something I look forward to with much anticipation.

In the meantime, I might look a little silly driving around on a pint-sized John Deere, but it’s an incredibly versatile machine, and my mowing work alone is already drawing comments of approval from local passers-by. So far, so good…

Lawns need a cuttin!

Next up is a micro scene that jumped out as I passed by a raised bed. It was, quite simply, a droplet of water cradled by lupin leaves. It’s a detail that many will instantly recognise, but it never ceases to amaze how often these details are overlooked, or the shear wonder on someone’s face when they tune in to such a sight. The crystal ball like qualities of those tense droplets of moisture must surely enchant the hardiest of gardeners?!

Lupin leaves and water droplets
Lupins and water droplets…

When I left my last role I was surprised and delighted to receive a little pot maker from my team, amongst many humorous and touching gifts. Naturally, I have waited until now to try the little gadget, and I’m happy to say it works really well! Now I’m not really short of pots, but the size of paper pot this press makes is a perfect half way house between seed tray and container. I’m optimistic that if the paper holds together, I’ll be using this more often – I might even start buying newspapers again, if only to keep me going in raw materials!

Making paper seedling plant pots
Making my own pots… My self sufficiency rating raised a little further!

My last image was taken at Broadwell and won some praise on social media. I can’t lay claim to taking the photo, just to sowing the seeds, but it’s photographer knows how to turn a plant, and Clearly knows how to turn out a great photo too – many thanks for passing over the image 😊.

The image does remind me though of how quickly a packet of seeds turns into a food plant. These courgette seedlings were sown just three weeks ago – an incredible thing to witness and be part of. If you possibly can, grow something; even for me, a lifelong gardener, it feels more important now than ever before, and I can’t recommend it highly enough for giving you focus and engaging the mind and body.

Courgette seedlings, growing our own
Courgette seedlings at Broadwell.

At home my own sowed crops are coming along nicely. I have but a single heated propagation unit that suits my needs, and it has been on the go for the last month or so now, starting things like tomato and chilli seedlings to begin with, and Eventually moving on now to ornamentals. Mind you, the temperatures we’re currently enjoying does give sufficient window ledge temperatures to germinate most seeds that need heat, so if you don’t have a heated propagator, don’t let it stop you trying to sow a few seeds – to this end, the easiest way to get hold of a packet is on the front of a garden magazine! (Keep your eyes peeled when next in the supermarket!)

I must finish up now, although I could very easily type away all day. To garden is to fill the memory with sights and sounds, activities and images that flow back as soon as I look at my diary. Looking to the present moment though, the window is open, the early evening is cool now, the nearby roads are silent, and the birds – birdsong fills the air. I must get out there! Stay safe, and if you must; stay home.

Regards, Gary

Do follow me on Twitter or Instagram, where you’ll most often find me #InTheGarden