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30 MAR

Magnificent Magnolias in March

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March has been another busy month in the gardens and I’m enjoying viewing the stunning colours around every corner. With displays from the Rhododendrons, Magnolias, Camellias and Cherries, as well as an array of bulb varieties, it is certainly a feast for the eyes. Some of our Magnolias are magnificent and our huge Rhododendron arboreum ‘Cornish Red’ on the Himalayan Walk is an amazing site. The Japanese Cherry at our main entrance has been the star of the show for March though. Its profusion of snowy white flower clusters greets every new arrival to the gardens. My only regret is how short lived the flowers are, but perhaps that is what makes them so extra special.

The unpredictable weather has delayed us planting out a lot of our more tender plants in the tropical and jungle borders. We normally have them out for the Easter weekend, but as things stand, it was just too risky, so they will stay indoors for another week or two.

Our bee observation house which offers visitors an opportunity to look into our kitchen garden and see working beehives, is finally open after its Winter rest. There is information here on bee keeping, as well as on conservation and biodiversity. It provides visitors with another area of interest and adds to our growing wildlife friendly projects.

There have been a lot of ‘housekeeping’ jobs to do this month, including mulching beds, resurfacing paths, feeding, and scarifying lawns, pruning, and tidying shrubs and when possible a little bit of weed killing on the hard surfaces. I find if you get on top of things early, it makes it a lot easier later.

April is usually a very active month in the gardens. Everything is coming into growth and the regular maintenance work starts to come online and eat into our available time. Jobs for the next few weeks include sowing sweet corn, runner beans and outdoor salad crops, carrots, parsnips and beetroot. Plant out onions, shallots and potatoes if you haven’t already. Plant indoor tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and tie in and pinch out new growth on the grape vines, hand pollinate indoor peaches to ensure a good quality crop, sow herbs, check for greenfly both indoors and out. A good tip for dealing with greenfly is mix some washing up liquid and water vigorously in a jug to make a lot of foam, then apply this directly to the infested areas to completely cover the aphids. It works very well!

Our plant sales area has been a huge success, and many visitors are delighted to be able to take a small piece of the gardens home with them. Hopefully, we will continue to grow our range as the year progresses. We will be adding young vegetable plants in the coming weeks and bedding soon after that.

We are extremely grateful to have so many locals supporting the gardens, and I hope that our visitor numbers will grow as the lockdown restrictions are eased. The gardens have been a sanctuary for many, including myself at times, and we take great pleasure in sharing them with you all.

I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam

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