By Nick Condron
As fresh spring leaves and beautiful blossoms unfurl all around, it’s such a joy to be in the garden on a bright April day. This year’s crocuses, daffodils and primroses have been especially magnificent in amongst our woodland ferns. Now, the ever brilliantly colourful tulips are coming to the fore once again. With so much growth and colour to enjoy, the garden feels more than ever a most welcome refuge and salve to the spirits.
The newly woven willow hurdles, which were artfully made from our repurposed tree prunings at the start of the year, have added an additional sculpted layer around the base of some of our trees and bedded in really well. Along the back of our herb garden we now have the welcome addition of some hop plants in place of several of the fruit trees that have been moved further back towards our outer wall, against which we’ve also planted some pink flowering Japanese quince. With the as yet unplanted vegetable beds now freshly cultivated, the overall structure of the garden is looking well set for a strong season of growth ahead.
Our polytunnels are brimming with an array of trays filled with tiny green vegetable and ornamental seedlings, from the freshly germinated to those ready to be pricked out and grown on in a bit more space. Already some of the larger plants, such as the sweet peas which have now had their tips pinched out, are being hardened off in the cold frames and soon they’ll be planted out in their final positions.
This year we’ve additionally prepared some no-dig vegetable beds that have been covered up over winter to suppress weeds, and it will be interesting to see if the undisturbed and supposedly healthier soil structure gives rise to stronger plants and heavier crops when we grow tomatoes and courgettes in them.
Looking ahead, we’ve also started off our begonia tubers and potted up our canna lilies and dahlias under cover, ahead of planting them out again in May once it’s warmer and the frosts have passed. This year we’re experimenting with growing Dahlia imperialis for the first time. It’s an enormous species which grows up to three metres tall, has beautiful pale pink flowers, thick, bamboo-like stems and large, elder-like leaves.
In the meantime, we do hope you can join us for our Spring Open Day from 2pm-5pm on Saturday 23rd April, when we’ll be serving teas and cakes and cooking up some delicious pizzas.