Garden News March
March is the month when things look as if they are “about to happen” in the garden. After last month’s displays of the early flowering bulbs, now is the time when the green shoots of many herbaceous perennials (especially in the Fellows Garden borders) start to appear as well as the early flowering shrubs such as Edgeworthia chrysantha (on the south side of the Library), Chaenomeles sp. (Rad Quad and Masters Garden) and Jasminum nudiflorum (also Rad Quad) in full bloom.
In the greenhouse, many seeds are being sown, especially annual climbers such as Sweet Peas (Lathyrus sp.) and Morning Glory (Ipomoea tricolor) ready for growing up obelisks in the borders for summer display. Other tasks to be completed this month include pruning the Roses in the Masters Garden.
To enable the gardens to be more sustainable all the garden waste (i.e. prunings, weeds and grass cuttings) except where disease is present are composted and the resulting organic matter is used on the beds and borders throughout the College sites either as a mulch or where new planting is made as part of the in-fill of soil for the hole! When planting trees and shrubs when you have dug the hole if you fill it with water, wait for it to drain and then refill it and once that has drained away then put the plant in, that action means that you do not need to water it again (except for large specimens and in real drought conditions!) for the rest of that growing season, thus reducing water use.
Where possible, we try to propagate our own plants, either by seed or cuttings thus reducing the need for buying in all our plants. For these we cannot use compost from our garden and have to buy it in. Most commercial compost still contain a high percentage of peat, we are about to carry out trails with both peat-free and peat-reduced composts. We will let you know the results of these trails and our (hopeful!) move over to these growing mediums at a later date.
You may have noticed that in the border in the courtyard in front of the library there is a Herb Garden, herbs are cut from here for use in the Colleges kitchens… from bed to plate in a couple of metres
Plant of the Month
If you go into the Bob Thomas Garden this month on a sunny day you will see three different specimens of Cornus alba, the caned Dogwood, when the early spring sunshine is on them the coloured stems show off to a wonderful effect. The stems will be cut down almost to the base at the end of March, this will improve the display for the following year as it is best on year old stems.
Bruce Taylor, Head Gardener