Grass Clippings

I am a city boy, born and bred in England’s second city. I hark from the one known as the ‘City of a Thousand Trades’ but at heart I’m a country boy. I was fortunate to continue my sports turf education at Myerscough College in Lancashire, which was established as a centre of agriculture training in 1894 and still provides valuable skills and knowledge to the farming community of the region, as well as a diverse programme of horticultural skills for the sector.

Through my time at college, I was able to assist on sheep and dairy farms and got to understand the mind-set and pattern of the agricultural world through the annual cycle of the year – in this country as well as a year in New Zealand.

August and September is a time I respect and admire farmers for the long hours and effort they endure to get the harvest in before the weather turns. Whenever I escape from the capital and head west to towards the Welsh Marches and see the combos on the move or grain trailers rolling back and forth, I always hope for the best for them. I’m sure sitting behind a 100-horsepower tractor as they meander around the country lanes with a multiplying snake of traffic collecting behind them for most city types is an irritation. But I take the attitude that without them, most of our food wouldn’t reach the table, so cut them a little slack for doing their jobs, day in and day out working long shifts to reap the rewards of the year.

Back at the Club, it’s also the time we reap the rewards of summer, as the Golf Autumn Meetings commence. The work that the team have put into the surfaces is enjoyed at this time of the year, before the weather turns again, and we enter the long nights and short days. There is plenty to do this winter with grass tennis court renovations now gathering pace and there are always works to be planned for the golf course. We have been asked to remodel the 10th tee this winter and alter the line of direction to the fairway for safety reasons. There is also a programme of maintenance works for the tree stock on the estate. All in all, it will be a busy winter this year but being Roehampton Club, this is the routine rather than the exception.

Project Blossom

The National Trust’s ‘Project Blossom’ begins this week with numerous gardens being planted and several new orchards announced to be planted throughout the land. The National Trust and its partners’ ambition are to create hundreds of blossom spaces in urban areas across England, Wales and Northern Ireland over the next five years, to ensure more people have access to nature and green spaces. The charity and its partners also hope to create a UK-equivalent of Japan’s world-famous Hanami (blossom viewing).

Coventry is the latest city to confirm plans for a new blossom garden as part of the initiative. The new blossom garden in Charterhouse Heritage Park will mark Coventry’s tenure as City of Culture.  This week, the locations and plans for blossom plantings in Newcastle, Nottingham and Plymouth, first announced in February, have also been revealed. The National Trust has also confirmed 46 new blossom projects which will be planted on the land in its care across the country over the next few months. All plantings will help towards the Trust’s ambitions to plant and establish 20 million trees by 2030.

To find out more about Project Blossom click here

Around your garden

September is generally a cooler, gustier month than August and the days are noticeably shorter, it’s time to dust off the wellington boots and wrap up when gardening outdoors. While there’s not as much to do in the ornamental garden at this time of the year, if you have a fruit or vegetable patch, you’ll be busy reaping the rewards of harvest. It’s also time to get out and start planting spring-flowering bulbs for next year and you can collect seeds for next summer’s colour too. Make the most of the remaining warmth while you can! Steve’s top pick of jobs for this week are as follows:-

Divide herbaceous perennials
There is plenty of time and we shall be selectively doing parts of the garden well into December but its now safe to start to clear and divide planting which has become overgrown and needs room for expansion.

Collect and sow seed from perennials and hardy annuals
Free plants is always a bonus when you can utilize seed from your own stock. Ensure seeds are collected and kept in a moist free environment and preferable in a dark cupboard.

Dig up remaining potatoes before slug damage spoils them
Store tubers now so you can enjoy the dividends of your work for weeks to come.

Net ponds before leaf fall gets underway
Once in a pond, leaves disintegrate very quickly and the slug deoxygenates the water. Save the back break of raking out leaves by netting the surface to make the task easier.

Start to reduce the frequency of houseplant watering
Plants will need less water as the days get shorter, wean them off feeding and less water to keep them healthy.

Cover leafy vegetable crops with bird-proof netting
It’s not just the humans who live harvest time. Birds will need to stock up now for winter and as we find, our squirrel community are munching through the chestnuts falling at the moment. If you have vegetables which are getting close to being ready, think about netting now so you have something left for the table too.

Plant spring flowering bulbs
One of the pleasures of autumn is looking forward to next year. Go to town and plant bulbs now so you have colour to look forward to in a few months’ time.

Peter Bradburn
Course and Grounds Manager