Lisa, our Craft Gardener, talks about glasshouse activity at Highdown Gardens.
It’s been busy in the glasshouse at Highdown Gardens these past few months, there has been a lot of activity with sowing annuals, thinning out, pricking out seedlings, potting on, hardening off and planting out of young plants.
Beds in the Sensory Garden have been full of Daffodils which are now making way for Purple Sensation Alliums which will flower mid May. Two of the beds in particular are full of Alliums which will be beautiful end of May, however they will leave lots of bare areas when they die down.
This is why it’s important to start sowing seeds early in the year. Annuals were first sown in January and have been successionally sown every month since. Fragrant Sweetpeas, very tall and dark purple Scabious atropurpurea, bright orange Calendula, vivid blue Salvia viridian and various colours of different types of Cosmos and Nicotiana are just some of the seeds sown in our glasshouse.
Interesting named ‘Orange King’ and ‘Jelly Bean’ Californian poppies were directly sown in one of the raised beds in the Sensory Garden earlier this month, as they don’t like to have their roots disturbed.
When the Calendula seedlings were large enough they were planted directly out in the Sensory Garden, also in April. Calendula have readily self seeded in the garden in the past and survived, so it is hoped the rabbits won’t eat these young, delicate seedlings.
With trays of new seeds, growing seedlings and pricked out seedlings taking up lots of space in the glasshouse, we are trying to make space, so plants are planted out as soon as they are ready. Including plants which were overwintered in the glasshouse.
Pelargonium and Salvia cuttings which were taken early November last year are now lush and green. They were hardened off for a few weeks by placing them outside and bringing them back into the glasshouse at the end of the day, they were ready to plant out end of this month.
Dahlia tubers were dug up in the Autumn, dried and stored in the glasshouse over winter in crates loosely packed with shredded newspaper. In February the Dahlia tubers were planted in compost in pots and watered regularly in the glasshouse. It was very joyful to see the fresh green growth from the dry brown tubers. When there was plenty of green growth they were planted out in April, making more room in the glasshouse.
Rabbits are a big problem at Highdown Gardens but especially in the Sensory Garden, they enjoy eating new growth, young plants and the bark on young woody shrubs. This is why you’ll see chicken wire circling many plants around the garden. The small Cosmos plants recently planted out are protected by chicken wire, for example, otherwise they would be eaten by the rabbits. Other small plants planted out in April, Sweetpeas and Scabious atropurpurea, were mostly planted in raised beds, which we fortunately have in the Sensory Garden, so they will be left alone by the rabbits.
The future plan for the Sensory Garden is to determine plants and seedlings which will be left alone by rabbits and focus on propagating these. In the meantime we’re busy preparing annuals to fill beds and gaps ready for the summer.
Established seedlings pricked out from seed trays to pots.
Hardening off young plants just outside the Glasshouse, before planting. Calendula, Cosmos, Sweetpeas, Salvia and Pelargoniums.
Different varieties of Cosmos seedlings pricked out into pots.
A raised bed in the Sensory Garden full of Purple Sensation Alliums ready to open.
Colourful Dahlias and scented Pelargoniums planted in one of the raised beds in the Sensory Garden.