Our speaker in March was Claire Muckleston from Bourne Garden Centre. Claire talked about how over her many years in the business sales and approaches at Garden Centres have changed greatly. Spurred on by garden makeover programmes people now want it all. Instant gardens containing evergreen plants that flower all year and smell good into the bargain. More experienced gardeners know that this utopia is more challenging. She highlighted that gardening experience handed down from more experienced gardeners like parents and grandparents seems to be lacking and that the garden centre, now in the role of educator must change to fill this gap. For example, what is the point of a sign saying bedding if people don’t understand what this means. Sheets and duvets? Plant displays are moving from an A_Z listing (personally love this as I can find what I want quickly but admittedly does require some knowledge of plant nomenclature) to displaying in groups for location or colour to try and guide shoppers. If you are new to gardening, I would encourage you to come to the gardening club. There are a lot of people there with a wealth of gardening and vegetable growing knowledge and experience who will be more than happy to give you that advice, and who knows maybe even explain what bedding means.
I was so pleased to hear Claire advise against planting an instant bed, but to go to the garden centre every month to buy a plant (or two or three, or even more in my case) in flower, thus ensuring that for years to come you have a succession of flowers across the year, rather than a short-lived flash of colour. I have followed this principle for years (mainly as an excuse to visit garden centres and indulge my love of plants) but now it has official sanction. I admit it I am a plant-aholic. It’s not illegal or immoral so I’m not too worried, only my bank manager.
Our speaker for April will be Geoff Hodge with his talk entitled All Muck and Magic on 13th April at 7.30pm in the Village Hall. It all sounds very intriguing. I have four compost bins in the garden so am hoping he can give me some tips for success.
Claire also talked about the challenges of using peat free compost, which I find just doesn’t hold moisture like peat, so it will be good to see if we can glean some tips on how to enrich our soil with our own muck and magic. If you are interested do come along as visitors are always welcome.
A garden is never static, always changing and evolving. I never really have an overall master plan. Things just tend to happen. Plants get too big or die leaving a gap or necessity requires a change.
I remember that when Christopher Lloyd dug up his rose garden at Great Dixter and planted a tropical garden instead it caused great consternation with traditionalists, but things sometimes have to move on. I am attempting such a controversial change in my own garden by converting a disused swimming pool into a sunken garden. Its not without its challenges. More on this next month.
Jobs in the garden this month
- Before putting out any young plants, check that they are not harbouring any pests and diseases to cause problems later.
- Now is the time to start fertilising your lawn before the grass really gets going. Keep the edges tidy if you want a neat look to your garden. Trimmed edges can make a lot of difference to the overall look.
- Early April is your last opportunity to hard-prune late-flowering shrubs
- Prune your penstemons (if you don’t have any then your job for April is to buy one). In April, new shoots appear at the base. Trim the leggy stems right back to keep them compact and vigorous. It’s also a perfect month to take cuttings, from 3in snippets, and plant new ones.
In the veg patch
Plant second early and main crop potatoes. I’m trying some in bags this year.
Support pea and bean plants now.
Thin carrot seedlings to achieve good-sized carrots; do this in the evening when fewer carrot flies are around.
Protect fruit blossom from late frosts by covering them with horticultural fleece on cold nights and top-dress patio fruit-trees with fresh compost and a slow-release fertiliser.
And lastly; Sorry, but as ever: Keep on top of weeding now that the weather is warming up.