Enjoy the Garden as it Bursts into Life

Birmingham Botanical Gardens in Edgbaston looks forward to spring, when the borders start to wake up from their winter slumber. We catch up with their gardening team to find out why…

Just like any gardener does, we enjoy seeing the garden transforming itself every spring. We love seeing lovingly tended seedlings for summer displays start to peek through, while the early blooms of tulips, daffodils and bluebells
provide a burst of welcome colour in the borders.

We’ll be keeping an eye on our newly planted herbaceous border, making sure that the tallest plants can reach their fullest height by supporting them with temporary hazel structures that have been coppiced from our nature reserve.

It’s this time of year that our events calendar also starts to look busy: we’ve got guided tours, events for the school holidays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and demonstrations, so do look at the website to see what we’ll be hosting.

The Daffodil Society Annual Show is being welcomed back on April 18 and 19 and it promises to be a must for lovers of these beautiful bulbs. We were the original home of the show, hosting the first formal event in 1900 – a year after the Society was formed – and held it every year for more than 50 years. We’re delighted it’s returning.

And on May 25, the Butterfly House will re-open. It’s always a sign that summer is on its way!

We’ve also launched a very special fundraising appeal that we hope you can support. We want to raise £75,000 towards the restoration of our historic bandstand. Taking A Stand! aims to return the bandstand to its original 1874 glory so that it can be used as an all-weather outdoor space for school groups and be a platform for music and other events.

The grade II listed bandstand is where Neville Chamberlain gave his first public speech as Prime Minister in 1937, and despite several repairs over the years, it is now in a poor state and requires extensive restoration work, including roof repairs and the reinstatement of some original features.

We’ve set up a JustGiving page, which can be accessed via our website – birminghambotanicalgardens.org.uk. Anyone wanting to donate can also make a cash or cheque donation at the Gardens or via post. Cheques should be made payable to “Birmingham Botanical Gardens” but please attach a covering letter with your contact details. Cheques should be sent to Finance Manager, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Bandstand Appeal, Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, B15 3TR.

This Season’s Tips

Spending time in the garden this spring? As well as mowing your lawn
regularly and keeping on top of the weeds, here are some tasks to do:

MARCH:

• If your soil isn’t frozen, add a 5cm layer of well-rotted manure or compost
to prepare for the coming growing season. It’s also a good idea to add a
general-purpose fertiliser.
• Lift and split herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses. Not only
does it increase your stock, it also allows you to fill up any bare areas in your
garden.
• Start planting summer flowering bulbs such as lillies and gladioli for a
summer display.
• Prune your roses to an outward facing bud.
• If you didn’t get round to sowing hardy annuals, such as sweet peas, in the
autumn, do it now as April will be too late.

APRIL:

• Continue to sow all hardy and tender seeds under cover – take care not to
expose them to frost.
• Keep an eye on your seedlings. As soon as they have their first ‘true’ or
adult leaves (the pair after the cotyledons or ‘seed leaves’) put them in pots
or modules of their own.
• If your greenhouse is heated, plant your summer hanging baskets with
plug plants, and keep them under cover until all risk of frost has passed.
• Pinch out the tips of fuchsia shoots and sweet pea plants to encourage
bushy plants this summer.
• Start to apply slow release fertiliser around beds and borders.

MAY:

• Apply a summer lawn feed that contains plenty of nitrogen to prevent
weeds.
• Ventilate greenhouses during the day to avoid overheating.
• Watch out for lily beetles on fritillaries and lilies. Check your plants regularly
and remove the red beetles and their larvae.
• Feed daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs with a high potash feed
and leave the foliage to completely die down before removing it.
• Prune early flowering shrubs by removing a third of the old wood from the
base, to encourage new growth.

JUNE:

• Plant out your summer bedding now that the threat of frost is over.
• Prune deciduous magnolias if they are in full leaf.
• Start thinking about sowing your winter bedding plants, such as
ornamental kale and winter pansies.
• Add shading to your greenhouse to prevent soaring temperatures and
open windows to increase ventilation.

For more tips, follow Birmingham Botanical Gardens on Twitter @ BhamBotanicalGd or visit www. birminghambotanicalgardens.org.uk

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