Grass Clippings

As we bask in this week’s glorious sunshine, it is hard to believe that just over a week ago we were dealing with consequences of flash flooding which dumped 2.5’’ (75mm) of rain over this side of the Capital in less than 90 minutes. Or, as several newspapers reported ‘a month’s rain in one evening’. This is the same weather system that crossed the English Channel later in the week and caused devastation to central Europe, picking up warm moist air along the way.

At the Club, the golf course absorbed the water well, with little damage and the Lady Golf Captain’s Day went ahead the next day, without issue apart from superficial damage to bunkers which took longer to drain.  The grass courts also coped well and opened a day later and the croquet lawns which like the golf, were in good condition the next day. This has been a turbulent summer, with May, June and July being some of the wettest we retain records for.

This July is the second wettest month this year (97.5mm), only being beaten by January, our ‘normal’ wet period which had 130 mmm. Climate change and human intervention are cited for the issues that we are seeing on a local and global scale. The weather of the British Isles is very much influenced by the Jet Stream and how these fast-moving winds will evolve in decades to come will influence our weather immensely. But it is not predictable how this will manifest itself, not even the Met Office’s super computers can anticipate the long-term future. The only sure thing is that our weather is going to become less predictable than we hope for or imagine. The one thing we can do at the Club is to be as prepared in all aspects of the changes and the old edict of plan for the worst and hope for the best is modus operandi which we should consider as best practice.

I think most gardeners would agree that they have been plagued by slug and snails this year. Otherwise known as ‘Gastropods’, the Latin term for slug quite literally translates to ‘stomach foot’ these hungry foot soldiers have gone in to overdrive this year as temperature have rose in spring and the weather became warm and wet. Due to the withdraw of chemical-based formulations using metaldehyde, many succulent leafy plants are at the peril of this plague of silent munchers which strike in the night.

The one method I am a little sceptical about is the laying of materials on the soil surface which are supposed to deter gastropods from getting close the vulnerable plants. Egg shells, wool, fine grit and the like have all been cited to keep them at bay, but I have found that even if one of these items may work for a short time, they are not the best solution and eventually a canny invader gets through the barrier.

Coffee grounds may be a solution and offer a better protection, if you can find a helpful coffee house which wishes to get rid of its by-product of spent coffee. I do feel that beer traps do have some credence and the evidence of drowned snails wearing smiles does bear the proof. But having multiple plastic tubs buried around the garden and having to top up the traps with ‘good’ beer may well bring a tear to the faces of some.

Copper and ferrous materials do strange things to these particular pests and so they do avoid crossing copper tape and granular ferrous sulphate. Most of the pelletized products on the market these days are made of latter product and although good, will need to be re-applied every few weeks. There are nematode products that are a biological control of slugs and snails is effective in small gardens if carried out with care early in the season. Basically, you water on a solution of nematodes, which are a microscopic parasitic worm which penetrate the slug, infect it and kill it: not a pleasant thought but organic and effective. You usually buy from mail order and storage and usage instructions must be followed to the letter to ensure they work. Encouraging more wildlife into the garden, and allowing hosts to pick of choice morsels may well be the best solution, I tend to go hunt for the offenders in the evening and early morning with a container and ‘deport’ offenders to elsewhere.

Wimbledon Park Project

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) says it will be London’s first new public park since the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park which opened in 2012. The Wimbledon Park Project proposals will see the 23-acre site at Wimbledon Park Golf Club, which is private land, turned into a 23-acre year-round public park. Plans for the park include the protection of veteran trees and planting of 1,500 British grown new trees, as well as the restoration of the Wimbledon Park Lake with a public boardwalk. The AELTC bought the Capabilty Brown-designed landscape in 2018 for £65m and plans to make it into tennis courts, including for qualifying for the annual championships. The 73 acres of golf course adds to Wimbledon’s 42 acres and will have 38 grass courts around the trees, without permanent seats. The Parkland show court will have an 8,000 seat capacity and retractable roof. Qualification for the championships will be held on the new courts with 10,000 allowed in. Current championship day capacity is 42,000. Meanwhile, the AELTC has bought a 15-year lease on the Bank of England’s Sports Centre in Roehampton. It will be known as the AELTC Community Sports Ground, Roehampton. ‘This lease agreement will enable us to have direct control over the land where our Qualifying Competition takes place until such time that the tournament can be moved to the AELTC Grounds as part of the AELTC Wimbledon Park Project. It will also enable us to improve the Qualifying Competition and practice experience in the interim period.’


Around your garden

Our Gardens Team; Steve Hutchens and Ian Vass have your weekly ‘to do’ list of work in the garden for the end of July:-

◊ Cut lavender for drying, choosing newly opened flowers for the best fragrance, then hang up in a cool, dark place
◊ Give dahlias a liquid feed, keep them well watered and tie the shoots of tall varieties to sturdy stakes as they grow
◊ Hoe and hand-weed borders often, so weeds don’t have time to set seed
◊ Water and feed sweet peas regularly, pick the flowers every few days, and remove seed pods to prolong flowering
◊ Plan to order autumn bulbs now so your ahead of the game.
◊ Feed, water and deadhead summer bedding regularly, in pots, borders and hanging baskets
◊ Cut back early summer perennials, such as hardy geraniums and delphiniums, after flowering for a second flush
◊ Take softwood cuttings from shrubs such as pyracantha, cotinus, hydrangeas and spiraea
◊ Feed and deadhead roses to keep them flowering strongly
◊ Keep watch for pests, as mentioned above
◊ Pick off flowers on coleus plants to maintain their colourful leaves
◊ Sow biennials, such as foxgloves, honesty, forget-me-nots and wallflowers, for blooms next year

Peter Bradburn, Course and Grounds Manager