The Original Garden Visitor's Guide

Sue's Garden - April & May 2017

Hello everyone, how are you?   How did you get on in March?

Well, again, we have had that mixed bag of weather haven’t we? Some gloriously warm days and evenings and some cold wintry days and nights.  I hope you haven’t lost any of your tender plants through the cold weather.  I must admit, I keep an eye on the weather forecast every day, as you never know what our weather is going to do.

So, now on to some jobs to do in our gardens and there are plenty to do at this time of year!  Keep feeding those shrubs and roses which are hungry plants. Mulch rose and shrub beds with a layer of organic matter.  This helps to keep the moisture in during dry spells and helps to keep weeds at bay and will help to improve the soil structure.  It is also a good idea to mulch around Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Camellias, as the flowering can be impaired if allowed to dry out during the summer. Feed your trees, shrubs and hedges with a fertiliser, such as Growmore, or blood, fish and bone (check out your local garden centre) and sprinkle around the root area and lightly dig into the surface of the soil.  This will certainly help those shrubs which may be young, or have been heavily pruned or damaged through the winter.

It is still not too late to cut back your winter stemmed shrubs, such as Salix and Cornus, if you have not managed to get around to them as yet.

Also, once the threat of cold nights is over, you can cut out any frost damage which may have occurred to evergreens in your garden.

Now is also a good time to cut out any reverted green shoots from your variegated evergreens, for example variegated Euonymus which commonly has  a tendency to revert back to green. Trim Lavenders into a neat shape.  You can also do this with Helichrysum (curry plant) and Santolina (cotton Lavender).

Also tie in your climbing roses and ramblers horizontally if you can as this restricts the flow of sap which will then force sideshoots to grow along the length of the stem and consequently produces more flowers – result!

Clematis and Honeysuckle will be starting to put out new growth by now, so tie in the new stems to their support/trellis.

Arundel & Pashley Manor Tulips

Sow new lawns or repair any bare patches.  Bumps or hollows in your lawn can be made good by cutting a cross in the turf and peeling back each piece so that you can remove or add soil.  You can then peel forward those pieces of turf and gently firm in and water.

If you have bamboos in the garden, now is the perfect time to divide them. Firstly, water the area around the bamboo to saturate the root system (called a rhizome).  Then dig a hole around and as deep as the rhizome.  Cut off two thirds of the plant...this will make it easier for you to move. Using a spade, cut the rhizomes into pieces ensuring each piece has a culm (growing stem) on top.  Use a saw to cut through really tough parts of those rhizomes.  Cut as many pieces as you need, just ensure you have a rhizome and a culm so that it grows well.

Next, plant your division into the ground ensuring that if your bamboo is one that spreads easily, you consider using a barrier (you can buy these from your garden centre or buy a cheap round garden trug and cut off the base).  Fill in the planting hole with compost and your new transplant. Alternatively, plant into a pot which has good drainage.

Now on to my Plant of the Month – this time it has to be Tulipa or Tulip as I have seen some amazing ones during my two recent garden visits to Tulip Festivals (see below).

I visited Arundel Castle and gardens in Arundel, West Sussex, primarily to visit the Tulip Festival.  I love them...their form, their colour and their beauty.  There is so much to love about them...even though they are not in flower for very long.

On the day I visited, it was bright and sunny with crisp cool air...perfect for walking around and admiring the gardens.

Sunlight makes a huge difference to how you perceive a garden and its plants. The tulips were looking fantastic and I have included some photographs for you to see.

These gardens are very popular to not only British visitors, but also to people visiting from overseas who were on garden tours around the UK.  I thought the tulips were tastefully planted and looked stunning.

The gardens at Arundel Castle are stunning at any time of the year, and it is lovely to be able to view the seasons through the various plantings and at this time of the year so delightful to drink in all those wonderful colours of the tulips.

I have also been fortunate to have managed time to visit Pashley Manor in Ticehurst, Wadhurst, East Sussex to see their Tulip Festival.  These gardens, I felt, were on another level of beauty...don’t get me wrong, I loved the tulips at Arundel, but I was blown away by the attention to exact placement of the tulips at Pashley.  So beautiful and the colours so rich and vibrant to the other extreme of pale and interesting.  There was a tulip to suit every taste.  So, for two to three weeks there is this wonderment of colour to excite your senses and to feast the eyes.

Pashley Manor also had an exhibition marquee with cut stems of tulips so that visitors could not only examine and admire these beauties ‘up close and personal’ but then even place an order through the company who has provided the bulbs to Pashley Manor. That was a real treat I must admit, I was very tempted to order some of these lovely bulbs, but, I have a very small garden which is already bursting with plants, so I resisted (very hard to do!).  I thoroughly recommend including a visit to a Tulip festival in your round of garden visits next year.

Pashley Manor also has some amazing statues dotted around the grounds.  These are tastefully placed to fit in with their surroundings and the plantings. I did look at other plants whilst I was there and the Rhododendrons were just beautiful.  On some of the plants you had buds fully open with some buds barely breaking through.  A sign of the very strange weather patterns we have been experiencing perhaps?

Well I think I should wrap up for this month.  Thank you for reading my ‘big up’ to Tulips this time round.  I hope you have a great gardening month ahead and I look forward to telling you all about mine in May including any garden visits.

I do hope you find the time to go and visit some fine gardens to give you some inspiration for your own gardens.

Happy Gardening, Sue