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May's mixed messages...

Beligian Beds Azaleas

May was a difficult month in the gardens. With heavy rainfall and low temperatures, it has been a challenge. On the plus side, the gardens are an absolute sea of colour at present. Our rhododendron and azalea beds have been amazing so far this year. There is still good colour there and it is well worth popping in to see them. We have planted huge numbers throughout the grounds over the last few years and it is very satisfying to see them starting to develop. The herbaceous borders are also starting to flower, as are the Seven Sisters, Fairy Glade, and the Himalayan Valley. In fact, there is something new around every corner.

The poor weather meant that we delayed planting out a lot of our tender tropical plants and bedding. Things seemed to be settling down now, and we are in the process of playing catch up. We are planting up all our display beds with mixed bedding and will put up our hanging baskets this week. In the beds we generally use a mix of begonias, petunias, lobelia, and geraniums. The secret to a good display is regular watering and feeding. We use phostrogen plant food every second week through the growing season. We also use the largest baskets possible as they are so prone to drying out. The promise of more settled weather on the horizon gives us all hope. Here’s hoping for a good summer.

The regular maintenance work of grass cutting, strimming, edging and weed control is now taking up a large portion of our available time and it really is a question of juggling jobs to try and keep things tidy. Although it is hectic, it is also the time of year when you start to see a lot of results from your winter and spring projects.

The glasshouses are looking full, and we have peaches, nectarines, apricots, grapes, strawberries, and assorted vegetables all coming along nicely. There was good bloom in our new heritage apple orchard this year, so we are hoping to improve on last year’s crop. Our bee observatory is open and is proving extremely popular with local visitors. They are able to observe the bees coming and going from their hives and there are several information panels in the building. We have also added a screen which will be showing video of inside one of the hives. We produced a small amount of honey last year, and we hope to get a lot more this time around. Keep your eyes open in the shop later in the year.

Jobs for June will include sowing outdoor vegetables, pruning grape vines and pinching out tomatoes and cucumbers side shoots and start to feed with seaweed feed or similar. Spray the potatoes for blight if necessary. Keep an eye out for pests as the weather warms up. We introduce biological controls for aphids and mealybug in our glasshouses. Spray roses for blackspot and aphids or use soap suds if it is a small infestation. Plant out bedding if not already done; keep up to speed with watering both in and outside. Newly planted or potted plants are especially prone to stress from drying out.

I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam