The recent inclement weather has driven me into the tunnel; top of the “to do” list was the pinching back of sweet pea that were sown last month. I’m trying a mixed Spencer variety this year, the “Spencers” are a modern hybrid that combines fragrance with a large flower and come in a range of pastel colours, they are destined for the veranda trellis in the lakeside suites and will give off a lovely scent, they will also be picked on a regular basis through the summer for table top decoration in the restaurant. An early sowing of sweet pea is beneficial as they produce a stronger plant that will flower earlier in the summer and give a longer flowering season.
On a recent visit to a local nursey I spotted a couple of overcrowded pots of river lilies (Hesperantha coccinea “Major”), these were are ideal for dividing and proved to be a wise investment as I potted up a total of 29 plants which should give me a good display next autumn and well into the winter. River lilies make good cut flowers, so hopefully there will be a few to spare for the hotel florists. Earlier this year some Francoa and Crocosmia were divided – again yielding plenty of new plants ; both were used as cut flowers during the summer and proved to be long lasting, so hopefully we will have a plentiful supply next year.
A Sweet William Auricula- eyed mix and Gypsophila elegans “Convent Garden white” were also sown and have now all been pricked out and potted on. Both of these were chosen with a view to being used as cut flowers, the Sweet Williams will be used in various borders and the Gypsophila will be solely used for cut flower production.
All of the spring bulbs have been planted in pots to be planted out next spring wherever a splash of spring colour is required.
Nearly all of the pelargoniums used for bedding and outdoor pots have been lifted and taken into to the tunnel for the winter where they will be cut back, re-potted and overwintered in the tunnel.
Begonias have also been lifted and will be cleaned and stored in the coming weeks, during the good spells the outdoor work continues in cutting back perennials, ivy control is also on the agenda as it must be kept in check on the walls of the building so that it doesn’t encroach on windows and gutters. Ivy is also removed from most of the trees closest to the hotel for safety as well as cosmetic reasons.
Guests frequently stop to chat, sometimes to ask what a particular plant is or sometimes with a particular query, the most common being how to get rid of horsetail ferns (Equisetum arvense ). Horsetails are a particularly troublesome weed and are notoriously difficult to eradicate , I find a strong glyphosate mix with a splash of fairy liquid added works quite well – the fairy liquid in the mix helps the weedkiller stick to the plant so it can be absorbed more easily, bruising the plant slightly also helps with the absorption of weed killer. Another common question relates to the lawns and how do we keep them so green, we use a seaweed based lawn food with added iron, the sea weed provides all the trace elements a healthy lawn needs and the iron helps to keep moss under control.
On the subject of lawns – it is important to remove leaves and twigs from the lawn before the onset of winter, we usually use mowers set on a high cut this time of year to leave the lawns looking good over the winter.
Trees go through a process of self-pruning (cladoptosis) and this process is very noticeable with our birch trees this year as our lawns are littered with twigs, again mowers are used to gather up the twigs ( larger twigs and small branches are picked up by hand).