Around the grounds
It was nice to see so many Members enjoying the golf course last week … before the rain. Winter has become an unpredictable time of mild and wet or cold and wet weather these days. Current temperatures mean that we are having to cut and maintain roughs, which is unheard of at this time of the year as we would usually have experienced daily ground frosts which slow growth down to a full stop.
On the course we are ploughing on with the task of re-building the 18th tee, with progress being dictated by the number of showers as the weather comes in from the west. A day’s rain can stop work for several days, until the soil has drained, as to track heavy machinery over the saturated working area will make the area into a quagmire and so we play the waiting game between the showers.
The tree works along the 1st tee, bag and trolley sheds has been completed and is the first time in 14 years that these London Planes have been taken to the pollard points. Although this looks severe, the pruning is needed to be done as the branches can over extend and become vulnerable to wind damage and splitting. There is also evidence that the London Planes are affected with Massaria, which is a fungal disease that appears to take advantage of branches predisposed by drought stress, leading to larger branches being affected and are then shed. Massaria has only been recorded in London since 2007, another side effect of global weather changes which is bringing to the UK pests and diseases previously not disposed to our colder winter weather cycles. Our tree surgeon has said that the Planes have a good few years left in them yet and will shoot new branches from the pollard points and lush green foliage once more.
On the course, we have now planted up the landscape beds on the 2nd, 15th, 13th and 16th holes. With just the mulch materials to place on these areas when time allows, this project will be put to bed soon and we can look forward to the plants growing in spring time and brightening up the golf course with colour. The new UV grow light has been used on the croquet lawns assisting in keeping the turf in good condition so far this winter. This week the light rig will be used on the tennis lawns near to the ITC to keep the shadow line in good condition also.
In the gardens, the team have several projects on the go including removing the children’s garden near to the pavilion as our contractors will be mobilizing in January to start the padel court construction.
Get creative this Christmas
Visiting the New Covent Garden Market for the Club in the last week, I can report that Christmas is well and truly on the way. Sales of fir trees and greenery were well up on the average and there was a real buzz around the market as it was evident that people wanted to make an effort this year to celebrate Christmas and see out 2020 well and truly. But making your own wreath is fun, and you can use materials collected from your garden, such as holly, ivy and crab apples and kids love to help out and get the festive mood started. For a DIY wreath use plenty of variegated materials to give the appearance of frosted foliage. To make this wreath, you’ll also need a floral foam ‘oasis’ ring. They’re widely available online and from good florists. Using a floral foam ring will help to keep the foliage fresh for weeks. Take the ring down once a week to re-soak the foam from below. Alternatively the traditional method is to use willow or cornus whip material (from winter pruning)or any other woody shoots that are pliable to shape a ring on to which you can wire on additional materials. Again florist wire is a valuable assist to have a hand which can be found from good stockists. Cut the plant material into short lengths. Aim for a range of leaf sizes and textures, from neat and spiky, to broad and floppy. Insert the sprigs all around the foam oasis, making sure that no foam is showing. Get an attractive mixed effect by varying the foliage and berries used each time you insert a new sprig, to avoid groupings of the same plant material. Plants with evergreen foliage to use:-
- Euonymus ‘Silver Queen’
- Ilex aquifolium ‘Argentea Marginata’
- Pittosporum ‘Irene Paterson’
- Viburnum tinus
There are plenty of instructional videos on YouTube for all those who wish to give this seasonal decoration a go and give instructional step by step demonstrations to give you helpful hints and tips for the best methods to make your front door sing this year. Please also remember to abide with countryside rules on foraging for material, if not from your own backyard.
Christmas gift plant ideas
If you are struggling for a Christmas gift for someone special then a house plant can bring years of joy for a home, as long as the recipient has the know how to keep house plants in good order. Here is a list of the most indestructible house plants that have been tested to destruction in many homes.
- The Peace Lilies (Spathiphyllum Torelli) are by far one of the easiest plants to look after. The good thing with Peace Lilies is that they will tell you when they need more water. Their leaves will droop down when they’re thirsty and lift back up when they’re happy. Water your Peace Lily at least once a week, they are naturally found on the forest floor so are inclined to like dappled shade rather than full sun positions. Making sure the top of the soil doesn’t dry out completely.
- The Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata ‘Compacta’) are one of the easiest house plants to care for. Water once a week when the top of the soil starts to become slightly dry. If you notice brown spots on your leaves if or your leaves start to drop, then this is a sign that it is being over watered. Remember to rotate your Fiddle Leaf Fig otherwise it might start to lean towards the sun.
- Monstera, also known as The Swiss Cheese plant is an easy house plant to care for, as long as it is kept moist and placed in a warm position. Again the rule of thumb is when the top inch of soil dries completely, it’s time to top up the pot. To keep your Monstera happy, keep it in a warm position with bright indirect light and wipe the leaves occasionally to remove dust.
- String of Hearts not only look beautiful but they are also very easy to care for. String of Hearts (Ceropegia linearis subsp. woodii) is a type of succulent, which means it stores water in its leaves, so if you’re not sure if you should water it, it’s best to let it dry out between watering. They prefer bright indirect light, so place near to a window but not directly in front of it. Like most house plants, keep (rain collected) water in a misting spray to spray the leaves once per day.
- Prayer Plants (Maranta Leuconeuraare) another easy house plant to look after. Prayer Plants prefer to be kept in bright indirect sunlight, a shelf near a bright window. To keep it looking healthy, you should also wipe the leaves occasionally to remove any dust.
- The Pilea plant (Pilea Peperomioides), also known as the Chinese Money Plant or Pass-It-On-Plant is another easy house plant to look after. Similar to a Peace lily, the Pilea’s leaves will droop if the plant needs to be watered. The Spider Plants (Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’) are another easy house plant to care for. Make sure you keep them well watered, possibly a couple of times a week, and less than this in winter. They prefer bright indirect light but can tolerate some shade, however this will slow it’s growth rate. They will make branching regeneration stems with small baby plants that grow from the tips. Have been known to be used as bedding plant edging in summer bedding schemes also.
- Alternatively, a book on gardening from the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) or Kew Gardens (https://shop.kew.org/kewbooksonline) is a great way to introduce a family member or friend to the world of plant life. It is also a great way to support these institutions that have seen funds depleted this year as visitors numbers have been hit hard by the Covid pandemic and the subsequent lockdown closures.
Peter Bradburn | Course and Grounds Manager