THE MILL GARDENS IN SPRING
Spring has arrived! March not only means that the clocks go forward, but also that the days finally are longer than the nights again. Temperatures are on the increase, although one might not always think so. Most importantly this all means that the first signs of growth are apparent in the Mill Gardens and that seed sowing now can start in earnest.
The spring bulbs are definitely the stars of the show in the Mill Gardens during spring. Crocus ‘Dorothy’ has performed brilliantly again this year and provided the long awaited splash of colour to our gardens. It is now giving way to Muscari ‘Cupido’ (grape hyacinth) in our wildflower verge, which should soon be joined by the lovely Narcissus ‘Hawera’ and later on Tulipa ‘Cynthia’. At the river edge, which is nicely viewed from the terrace of the Riverside Cafe, thousands of Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’ are providing a spectacular display, while around the garden Chionodoxa ‘Pink Giant’ is coming into its own (it is not really that gigantic, but rather cute and definitely pink!).
We are also looking forward for our tulips, alliums and camassias to come into flower later in the spring. We expect these to make quite and impact, having planted additional bulbs of Tulipa ‘Black Parrot’ and ‘Apricot Beauty’. New additions to the garden this year will be Tulipa ‘Spring Green’ and Camassia leichtlinii, which have been planted near the bridge and are showing first signs of growth.
The cereal crops have come through the winter nicely and should soon start to grow again and we expect these to flower around May time.
Our spring cabbages will be the first crop to find its way into our kitchen this year. Spring Greens in April will be followed by fully hearted cabbages in May.
Early spring is also the time to plant potatoes, onions and shallots and soon we will be sowing turnips and beetroots, which form part of the crop rotation of our Norfolk Four Course System.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
During winter we planned the layout of our allotment, discussed what we wanted to grow this year and ordered all our seeds. We are now ready to start sowing in earnest! The first salad and herb seedlings are already sitting nicely in the glasshouse next to our broad beans and peas. It won’t be before long that the nursery will be full of little plants to be grown on and waiting to be planted out. Exciting times!
New additions to our allotment this year will be a hazel tunnel over which we will train trailing squashes in the summer and we have also decided to allocate some space to cut flower production. This year will also be growing some new and unusual vegetable, alongside old favourites.
Our soft and top fruit all were pruned during the winter and are now getting their annual feed to provide us with loads of berries, apples and pears during the summer and autumn.
JOBS FOR SPRING
This is a busy time in a gardener’s calendar and the list could be endless, but here are some important things we will be doing in the Mill Gardens this spring:
- Planting potatoes, onions and shallots in early spring.
- Sow, sow, sow! Hardy vegetable and annuals during early spring followed by more tender varieties in late spring. Successional sowing will continue all summer for lettuces, beetroot, kohlrabi and many other vegetables.
- Feeding and mulching our soft and top fruit.
- Starting to mow our grass paths and oversowing bare patches.
- Sowing our annual Pictorial Meadow in the orchard.
- And most importantly – keeping on top of these pesky weeds!