April in the garden May 10, 2024

April only seemed to last a fortnight this year and suddenly it’s May.

As well as the days speeding by, the variability of the weather is causing a certain amount of confusion when it comes to the development of the garden. One day it’s beautifully warm and I worry that we haven’t got all our veg out into the plots. Next day, the temperature drops through the floor, we’re all wearing extra layers and I’m worrying about the seedlings in the greenhouses… 

No Mowing in May 

That said, the gardens are coming to life as spring moves on. Despite the lawns being consistently wet (distinctly underwater in some areas) our volunteers bravely managed a couple of cuts on the lawn before No-Mow May arrived. We’ll now allow the grass to grow undisturbed for at least a month to let the insects and wildflowers thrive. 

Celebrating Spring 

A big part of our work in April was taken up with preparations for our spring event – which included spending nearly a day and a half erecting our new marquee. The event went extremely well -we were lucky enough to have a day of lovely sunny weather which encouraged well over 600 people to come to the gardens to appreciate the hard work our lovely volunteers have been putting in. The plants we’ve been carefully propagating sold well and we had lots of positive compliments on how the gardens are looking.  

Wildflower power 

Now is the perfect time for sowing wildflower seeds outside so, in preparation for reseeding, the wildflower circle has had a good weeding out. Last year’s sowing appears to have returned well with Red Campion, Yarrow and Forget-me-nots providing nice early colour. We were less happy to see Nettles, Dock and Blood Veined Sorrell coming back strongly but we have removed those to make room for the new seeding, which took place at the end of April. One side of the wildflower circle didn’t perform too well last year due to a mixture of shade and a tree falling on it. The darker side of the circle has been sown with a shade tolerant mix this year and we’re hopeful that the trees will do their part by remaining upright.   

In the orchard 

Another of the tasks which has been keeping us busy has been the renovation of the orchard. The old wooden posts supporting the trained trees on the borders had come to the end of their useful lives, so while we were removing those, we also created a new entrance path and carried out a good weed and prune. We have discovered that the geraniums which form a carpet underneath the espaliers are suffering with geranium blight, a disease which has no effective organic treatment. Removing the roots will be hard work but it does provide us with another opportunity to improve the biodiversity of the gardens by planting in a broader range of native wildflowers and plants which will support pollinating insects.  

Summer will arrive in the garden soon so we’re looking forward to being able to put our tomatoes, sweetcorn and other sun loving veg out and seeing lots more colour splashed around the garden. Lots more to do! Fingers crossed with the weather… 

Matt Young
Therapeutic Horticulture Lead