The Garden Diaries

By Belvoir Head Gardener – Tom Webster

17th March 2022

Suddenly Spring is well and truly upon us.  Birds are singing a different song and things are poking through the soil that you’d forgotten planting. Even the roses I’d intended to replace are shooting with a vengeance as though someone has tipped them off. Last minute pruning; all these roses have different habits and I tend to prune by instinct rather than by the book.

Snowdrops are over now but the thousands of daffodils we planted a couple of years ago are blindingly apparent; I have to wear sunglasses driving through the estate.  Next up will be the tulips. Some very nice varieties. We plant them every year in the rose garden but we never seem to have more. We don’t lift them, of course, it’s just too time-consuming to dig them up from between the roses and it seems a shame that you generally only get one good display from tulips and then have to plant another lot. But I have read, in an old book from our archives, by a previous head gardener here, that he would dig them up immediately after flowering, put them in a trench until the foliage had died back, then lift them and dry them and store as usual until October, and then plant them in some good soil, out of the way, for the next season, to build up their strength, then they would be replanted where you wanted them. In the meantime, new bulbs would have been planted thus creating a two year cycle.  If only I had the staff. But I may try it, thus prompting the demise of the Dutch bulb industry.

 In spite of mulching the roses with chicken manure last year (I know; It was all I could get hold of), much to the distress of some visitors, who were obliged to wear gas masks, I still need to build up the consistency of the soil in the rose garden.  At last, I am being supplied with regular loads of horse muck from a local stable and in a year’s time will have a succession of good manure. Hold your noses.

I said previously that I intend to talk at length about soil……… and I will.  But, in the meantime, lots to do.