March Garden Update
In keeping with the weather we experienced so far in spring this March garden update is suitably late. The tolls of what has been a long and cold winter are summed up by the two pictures below. Both containers contain tulips & forget me nots and the photo of each was taken on the same date a year apart. This delay in plant growth is reflected throughout the garden from the cherry blossoms which are only now slowly starting to blossom, to purple sprouting broccoli which is almost a month behind in its production of tender florets for Overends Kitchen. Some plants succumbed to the cold snap altogether. Tender prennials such as, Echium candicans and Cobea scandens which had happily overwintered the mild winters up until now have been reduced to a rotting mess. Many other borderline hardly plants such as Euphorbia mellifera, Pseudopanax lessonii ‘Purpurea’ all look a little worse for wear but should pull through. Even early growth of hardy plants like roses, clematis succumbed to frost bite.
Thankfully there is an upside to this endless winter. It is a common misconception that gardeners have very little to do during winter months. This in fact could not be further from the truth. The majority of our planting, pruning and planning takes place during the winter. So the cold March has handed the garden team extra time to redesign and replant areas in the garden. The farm cottage borders, potting shed border and perennial vegetable beds are just some areas that have undergone significant redesign over the last month. Much of this work is still in progress but come the summer the fruits of the hard labour should be evident for all to see.
The glasshouse and tunnel areas of the gardens of course were relatively untroubled by the adverse weather. The garden team continued to harvest fresh oriental salad leaf, kale and purple sprouting broccoli from the tunnels delivering the produce straight to Overends Kitchen three times a week right throughout the winter months. Our peach and apricot trees have blossomed and with the added help of some hand pollination should provide a heavy crop of fruit over the coming months.
March is one of the busiest months of the season when it comes to seed sowing and thousands of seeds have already germinated this month. The controlled environment of the heated propagators enables us to continue to germinate seeds regardless of external weather conditions. These plants will bring colour and productivity to all areas of the gardens over the coming season. Each season we like to try out new varieties of vegetables and flowers and this year is no exception. Cosmos ‘Xsenia’ described as terracotta-orange with rose edges sounds like it will be a great addition to the walled garden borders. While I am particularly looking forward to seeing how Radish ‘Watermelon’ tastes. It is a Chinese heirloom variety that has is white in colour with a watermelon coloured centre. Although it does not quite taste like a watermelon it is apparently sweeter than most radishes. Of course seed companies are notorious for preying on frustrated gardeners during the dark months of winter promising the moon with their newest seed varieties. Time will tell if we sold a pup or have a winner on our hands.
One variety we can be certain about is that of our first early potatoes, “Orla” which we planted during a brief window of opportunity on the 20th of March. Ground conditions have not been favourable for planting potatoes but thankfully we got the first of our planned potato crop in the ground shortly after the traditional planting date of St Patrick’s days. Hopefully as the ground conditions slowly improve our second early variety ‘Charlotte’ will keep “Orla” company in the ground.
April promises to be an exciting and colourful time in the garden as many blooms traditionally associated with March roll over into April. With March and April’s flowers producing blooms at the same time there should be no shortage plants to admire in the gardens over the coming month. We are eagerly anticipating the splash of colour in the walled garden which will hopefully live to the expectations set last year.
Did you know?
Airfield Estate’s gardening team have created a new 10 part gardening series which will run one Saturday each month from January to October 2018.
Set in the beautiful surrounds of Airfield Estate, this course will guide you through the gardening season, teaching you how to make the most of your garden by growing your own vegetables, flowers and fruits. Each month we will focus part of the class on a particular garden task that the tutor deems to be key to a successful month.