Gardening Club notes for April
April, the month of showers, but the bonus is that the garden starts to wake up, shrubs & border plants are now in full growth, leaves fresh and green, a time when you just want to get out there and get on with some gardening. Rapid plant growth this month, it must be all those showers, plenty to keep us busy , if growing your own bedding plants, these may now need watering every day, and feeding while they are still in their pots and trays. Many established plants in borders also require attention, staking & tying in, sowing vegetable seeds is at it’s peak. The lawn will probably need more frequent mowing as the grass is now growing strongly, especially if you applied a weed and feed dressing last month. Get the runner bean canes out of the shed and check them over, discard any that the ends have deteriorated, due to being in the ground last year, nothing is worse than having you beans blow down due to the canes breaking, better still buy new canes from our Club shop at trade prices. Jobs for this month; prick out and pot up your seedlings before they become overcrowded , remember any surplus you have pot these up to help with the Club’s plant sale in May. Make start hardening off some of your bedding plants, always keeping an eye on the weather, if frost threatens , get them back under glass. As always keep up the war against slugs and snails, with all this new growth around us they will be at their worst, I like the idea of beer traps, at least they die happy. When the opportunity presents itself, ventilate greenhouses & cold frames as often as possible, this will encourage sturdy plant growth. Plant up hanging baskets and keep them protected while they establish themselves, until all danger of frost has passed. Apply a general slow release fertiliser to containers , if applied now as a surface dressing it should last all the growing season. Earth up early potatoes, protecting them from light and frost, so plenty to get on with this month.
Club news; on Monday the 20th of February , our speaker for the evening , was Philip Osman, head gardener at the National Trust Helix House, in Swindon. Philip told us how his career had progressed from car body repairer, via Swindon college ,show garden at Hampton Court & eventually becoming head gardener at Helix. As with many things, finding sponsors is the hardest part, having won the support of Homebase for a charity garden , this progressed to designing and building a garden for them at Malvern, from this an invitation was received to produce a show garden at the prestigious Hampton court RHS flower show, winning a silver gilt medal, which we were all privileged to closely inspect. From these commissions a request was received from the National Trust to join them as head gardener , the first task being to plant up the two massive flowerbeds along the front and side of the main building if you have ever visited Helix you will know how large these are , the brief was to plant them up to have all year round interest with low maintenance, Philip & his team of volunteers, I think you will agree, had achieved this and done a splendid job. Following the outside flowerbeds , Philip and his team moved onto re-vamping two inner courtyard gardens within the building, removing & replacing the contaminated soil with thirty tons of fresh soil, all wheel barrowed through the main building! These courtyard gardens not only provide a calm oasis for the staff but homes for bee colonies & providing 25 percent of the fresh vegetables used in the restaurant during the season. At the end of the evening Philip generously donated his fee to the National Trust. The monthly member’s competition, “best Spring flower” was won by Molly Western. Our speaker this month will be Richard Cripps with a talk entitled “Basics of vegetable growing”, something to learn for all of us I expect, the member’s monthly competition will again be “best Spring flower”. A reminder , we will be holding our Spring show on Saturday the 22nd of April, please try and bring something along, it only with your support that we can make this a successful show, if you cannot enter please come along to view the entries , have a cup of tea a slice of cake and a chat. As we had last year, we will have the welcome support of the Wroughton floral art group, who will be holding a “have a go” workshop all welcome children & adults, your chance to get advice from the experts. Show schedules still available from Julie Dowsett. I will close this article with an amusing quote I read recently, “one of the most pleasing sounds of Springtime, to be heard all over the country, is the contented cooing of osteopaths as Man picks up his garden spade”.