Garden Blog | April 2020
So here we are in April, an April quite unlike any other. What with ‘lockdown’ and ‘self-isolation’ it’s quite easy to imagine that the world is grinding inexorably almost to a standstill. The seasons, however, roll on as normal, and our gardens are places of peace, quiet, and relaxation, away from the noise and chatter of 24 hour news coverage. Our gardens are more valuable to our wellness than ever before.
The Romans gave this month the name Aprilis. One story goes that the name was derived from the verb, aperire, meaning to open, alluding to the unfurling and opening of flowers and leaves. Another version of events suggests that the name was derived form that of the Greek Goddess, Aphrodite, who’s day of veneration was the first of the month. Aphrodite, was of course goddess of love, beauty, and pleasure. All very fitting as our gardens unfurl and we fall hopelessly in love with their spring beauty.
Gardens don’t tend themselves, and gardening is a great way to keep fit and enjoy the great outdoors. Here at Deene Park, those of us that maintain the gardens are continuing to do so. As we live on site and therefore are not travelling to get here, are out in the fresh air, and able to keep a considerable distance apart, we are ensuring that the gardens are properly looked after.
Recent essential tasks where the wellbeing of the gardens are concerned have included shading our glasshouse. As the sun climbs higher in the sky for longer each day, the glasshouse is prone to getting exceptionally hot inside. Plants exposed to these conditions dry out very quickly, and can wilt and scorch as a result. Our glasshouse shading is bought in bulk from a horticultural supplier, but the same product in smaller containers is available in good garden centres. Following instructions on the packaging, the shading concentrate is simply mixed with water in a bucket, and applied to the exterior of the glasshouse with a mop. The results are rapid indeed, as within a few minutes of completing the task the glasshouse temperature had dropped from 23c to 14c.
Seed sowing is another high priority job right now, and so eager are the seeds to get going that germination seems to occur within the blink of an eye. It is best to use a specific seed and cutting compost, as these have been developed to give the best results. Half fill a seed tray with compost, level it out and tamp down gently, then water. Watering before sowing ensured that your seed are not washed away from where you sowed them. Seed should be sown evenly and sparingly to allow each new seedling that grows its own space. Some seed will need covering with a fine layer of sieved compost, whereas others need to remain exposed, the seed packet will tell you what do on that front. Cover your seed trays with a sheet of glass of transparent plastic to maintain humidity, and place in a bright and warm location. Within a matter of days your seed will begin to germinate, at this point remove the glass and ensure that the compost doesn’t dry out at all. When your seedlings have produced their second set of leaves they are ready to be pricked out and potted up.
Looking back a while, we had an excellent attendance for our Snowdrop Sunday, back in February. With higher numbers of visitors, one consequence is that ‘pinch points’ such as the entrances to our Four Seasons garden suffer excessive wear and tear. To alleviate the situation, we had these areas paved early in March. A great improvement.
Until May, happy gardening!