This Week in the Garden… 1st April 2022

12 April 2022

This week in the garden, we have been doing our best to make repairs to the grassy areas along the Wisteria Path which suffer from heavy footfall and shade. Where we can we have cordoned off newly sown areas of seed, which has germinated well, but there are other parts of the path that cannot be cordoned off, and here we have used some turf (a few strips left over from a newly laid lawn in the Master’s Lodge) and patched it in, to carefully get the correct level. We hope that over the next few weeks, even with people walking on it, the roots will get down into the base soil and it should be growing strongly by summer.

Another maintenance job has been to renovate, where possible, the wooden disc plant labels. These have proven to be very popular with our visitors and we are currently seasoning suitably sized cut branches to make more. They are eco-friendly, all coming from wood cut within the gardens as part of our tree maintenance, and although prone to wear and tear in the weather they have generally lasted quite well. By summer we aim to have many more plants labelled, particularly along the Lovelace Wall and Riverside borders.

The lovely, loamy, well-drained soil across the Franciscans Gardens means we are well ahead with preparing the soil for sowing seeds. It is a real pleasure to be able to lightly turn the soil at this time of year to create a fine tilth for seed sowing. (In our own garden, only 7 miles away, the soil is still far too wet and heavy to begin this task.) The unusually sunny, warm weather in March means that we have been hoeing out annual weed seedlings regularly as well and starting to mow the grass, on the highest cut, avoiding the foliage of the daffodils and snowdrops which we want to die back naturally to feed the bulbs for next year.

One very satisfying task this week has been to dig out all the compost from one of our bays, and use this, mixed with some 18 month old leafmould, to lay a thick mulch along the riverside border. This is one of the hottest and driest parts of the garden in high summer and so the mulch will not only supress weeds and gradually feed the soil, it will also retain more moisture in the soil for the plants to use when they most need it. It shows off the plants beautifully as their new leaves emerge from the carpet of rich, dark brown. And all for free!

We spotted two infrequent visitors this week: a white egret, fishing in the Little Stour by the Chapel for a few days in a row, and the kingfisher, a flash of brilliant azure, zipping along just above the water’s surface before disappearing under the arches of the Chapel.

Other jewelled delights to spot in the gardens right now: The

  • glorious pulsatilla vulgaris (Pasque Flowers) in beneath the espalier pears against the brick wall in the Cloister Garth. Their perfect flowers open in the sunshine above small, delicate rosettes of fluffy silvery foliage.
  • Primula veris (cowslips) and primula vulgaris (native primrose) in the meadow. Pale yellow flowers and lime green foliage singing of spring.

Tracey and Robert… the gardeners.

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