Grass Clippings

Course and Grounds

It’s been a long spring. For some of us it has felt like an eternity but finally we are getting back to some form of ‘normality’ at the Club and we welcome back Members to outdoor sports. As the government instruction on relaxation of social distancing and lifting of the lockdown came with little pre-warning we have had to bring forward the return-to-work programme for most of the course and grounds team and work out how we restore the surfaces back to our playing standards.

Few of you outside of the sport management circles will be aware that during the ‘lockdown’ period the governing bodies for the sports industry; the R&A, England Golf, Croquet Association and the LTA had given clear instructions on how courses and sports facilities were to be managed during the last few months. We had effectively mothballed all sports surfaces and were advised to keep all works to the bare minimum. Richard Harrison, in his videos, has been very complimentary regarding the condition of the course and it is true, we owe a great debt to the few who have done so much in keeping the course and grounds in good condition. Nevertheless, this week we have had to manage the conditioning of the greens and ramp up the speed of returning them to the Club’s standards and work on the trueness of the putting surfaces. The grass tennis courts were over-seeded in April, when the temperatures were right for the process of replacing worn areas lost in the previous season. The seed is now germinating, and we are conditioning the courts ready for a late May/early June opening.

Due to the demand expected for tee times, please be aware of a few changes around the course. All golf furniture, bins, ball washers etc. have been removed or covered for the time being, Please do not attend the flag pin, a cup cover that allows the ball to drop into the hole has been installed and each player will be able to retrieve the ball without removing the flag. All rakes have been removed so please smooth out ball marks and footprints after your shot. The greenkeeping crew will only prepare the bunkers at the start of the day before play. As ever, there is also a plea to replace divots and repair pitch marks on the greens. The greens will be soft for a while because they have had no foot traffic so repairing your ball mark will be essential to keep the surfaces in good condition.

The Gardener’s Plight

In response to the Government allowing the reopening of garden centres, the RHS will be reopening RHS Plant Centres at all four RHS Gardens on Wednesday 13th May, 2020. External plant centre areas will be open and trading while gift shops and catering outlets will remain closed. There is no update on gardens reopening from the RHS or Kew yet following easing of lockdown measures by the Government this week. The National Trust is opening car parks at its English free-entry sites from 13th May.

RHS Plant Centres will open from 10am to 4pm seven days a week. RHS Gardens, Gift Shops and all catering outlets will remain closed until further notice.

BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today understands that 50% of annual plant sales have been lost. The chair of the Horticultural Trade Association (HTA) explained on the programme that ‘our best estimate is that we will still have lost 50% of our annual budgeted sales and further industry support is still required’. HTA is campaigning for £250m grower compensation for plants that have been thrown away during the lockdown.

Gardeners’ World expert Monty Don has revealed his golden retriever Nigel has died this week after being ‘suddenly taken ill’. Nigel was frequently seen following Don around the garden with the presenter’s other dog Nellie. The retriever had a canny knack of understanding when filming was taking place and would often position himself centre stage of the action. Speaking in 2016, Don revealed that Nigel had helped him through ‘dark periods’ of depression. As a TV presenter and writer, Monty Don has been very open about his struggle with mental health and how gardening, his family and his love of dogs had helped in through many tough times.

Tips for the Outdoor Kind

With the lifting of restrictions, don’t neglect all the hard work which has been done in the garden. Here are a few tips to keep your green fingers occupied

♣ Prune spring shrubs, such as forsythia and chaenomeles, after flowering to keep them compact
♣ Plant out dahlia tubers and cannas after all risk of frost has passed
♣ Tie in the new shoots of climbing plants, including clematis, wisteria and honeysuckle, to their supports
♣ Continue sowing annuals, such as California poppies, into gaps in borders for colour from August into autumn
♣ Plant up hanging baskets, but keep in a greenhouse or porch for a few weeks to establish, before putting outside
♣ Apply liquid feed to tulips, daffodils and other spring bulbs to encourage a good display next year
♣ Plant out summer bedding and tender annuals, including sunflowers, cosmos and nasturtiums, after the last frost
♣ Remove faded spring bedding, such as wallflowers and forget-me-nots, once faded and add to your compost bin
♣ Check lilies and fritillaries for scarlet lily beetles and their larvae, as they can rapidly strip plants of all foliage
♣ Harden off tender plants raised indoors, but bring them back in at night to protect from late frosts
♣ Pinch out the shoot tips of bedding plants and young annuals to encourage bushier growth
♣ Add interest to shady borders by planting a selection of hostas and ferns

Peter Bradburn | Course and Grounds Manager