Grass Clippings

The end of March has finally brought a dry spell to SW15 and we are trying to take advantage of the better ground conditions during this period. Unlike some clubs up and down the country who, due to the soil conditions have not been able to manage their courses at all. We have done whatever possible to keep presentation and grass length under control and maintain our standards. I have heard reports that some courses haven’t been able to cut fairways since the end of last year and are resorted to hovver-mowing fairways.

For all those old enough to remember, the advertising tag line ‘it’s a lot less bovver with a hovver’ strains credulity when you have over 13 hectares of grass to cut. It has been the case that our fairways are in such good condition which is part due to the process of top dressing them for the last five years, spring and autumn. The layer of sand that has now been created under the turf acts in a wicking method to reduce surface moisture and drive that down away from the surface. 

We are now starting to work on grass courts maintenance and there is a lot to catch up to do before the start of the season. Due to the unprecedented amount of rain we had last autumn, we still have to top dress the courts and fill in some areas with seed before we start to condition the courts for court opening. It really is a topsy-turvy situation to be in but we shall persevere and do what needs to be done.

Coronavirus cancellations
Chelsea Flower Show has been cancelled for this year. At time of going to press, the RHS Gardens will remain open, with increased precautionary measures in place. Also cancelled are:-

RHS London Spring Launch and Orchid Show, 7-8 April

RHS Botanical Art and Photography Show, 17-18 April

RHS Flower Show Cardiff, 17-19 April

RHS Malvern Spring Festival, 7–10 May

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show,
11–14 June

RHS Garden Harlow Carr Flower Show, 26-28 June, (may be moved to July)

Chelsea Flower Show was cancelled for two years during the First World War (1917-1918) and seven years during the Second World War (1940 – 1946). Everyone due to be a part of Chelsea 2020 will be accepted for Chelsea 2021. Anyone who bought a ticket to any of the cancelled RHS Shows will have the option to get a full refund within 21 days. 

In latest accounts, shows attracted 520,000 visitors (571,000 the previous year) with turnover of £23.4m (£22.7m) and expenditure of £22.6m. Chelsea attracts 168,000 people and makes up to £8m a year profit, though some of the other shows are loss-making. Chelsea has around a £400m economic benefit on the UK economy. The BBC broadcasts around ten hours coverage from Chelsea and more from other shows. Harrogate Spring Garden Show (April 23-26) was the first big consumer show to cancel, also after the Government decided to not support mass gatherings.

Time in the garden
Many Members may now have an idle hour on their hands. As a positive to this situation, the garden give us all an opportunity to get some exercise and full body work out as well as get out in the fresh air and enjoy spring as dormancy breaks ready for Easter. Here are a few jobs that can be considered as part of the joys of gardening.

After shrub beds have taken such a pounding this winter, it is good practice to dig over open parts of the bed to allow air movement into the roots. Incorporating any form of well-rotted mulch into such areas is also going to help your plants no end for summer. 

You can also work in a general-purpose fertiliser, such as pelleted chicken manure, or fish, blood and bone. This will give plants a head start in terms of growth in the next few months and help with flower development later.

If any of your garden plants need supporting this year, put them in now, so plants can grow up through them. Adding supports afterwards is trickier and often looks unattractive. Willow canes make great natural looking supports and blend in well as plants mask over them. Bamboo canes can also work, but whatever you use, try to protect the ends with padding or some form of cover to minimize eye injuries.  

Move deciduous trees or shrubs now while there is still time. We are still in that semi-dormant state that plants can be moved around the garden. If they are not in flower or with buds unfurling and as long as the soil isn’t frozen or waterlogged of course. 

You may have a border which has plants that have grown too big for their position and aspect and are hiding other plants behind them. As long as you’re not craning trees around your plot, it is feasible to change the aspect of many plants as your garden develops. Many professional gardeners will do this regularly and use late winter / early spring as the time to bring a new dimension to a tired border.

Resurface paths before plants start to grow and smother them. As with our Club gardens, we have been renovating the herbaceous border by Lawn No 4 this winter and we will be placing a layer of new gravel on the path. Whether pea gravel, bark or stone chippings. Renewing pathway surfaces really does highlight borders and ensure the garden looks fresh. 


Peter Bradburn  |Course and Grounds Manager |