Grass Clippings

Growing greener

In the last week, the Club’s Environmental Committee gave an update on the measures proposed to ensure that the Club is forward-facing on this issue. The committee includes Members and staff who are stake holders or represent a specialist area related to the issues of making buildings or infrastructure ‘greener’.

For five years, the Course and Grounds Department has been striving to make easy gains by adopting measures to improve our green credentials. The bore hole and reconfiguration of the irrigation system was one of the larger projects that we have tackled in the last decade. By being less dependent on what is basically the city’s drinking water supply, we are now making use of the aquafer below us to irrigate turfed areas. The irrigation computer and pump management system were also updated to make the process more streamlined and energy saving for the Club.

Reduce, recycle and reuse is a mantra we must become accustomed to, and it is something we have taken on board within the department. I have mentioned several times before in Grass Clippings that we are fully converted to recycling all our green waste from all three sections. This includes grass clippings, tree mulch discarded turf and leaf material. In the future, we shall also take vegetable waste from the kitchens to further reduce transporting waste to landfill from the Club. The composted product we make is the basis the landscaping beds we are adding to the course and estate. By adding additional planting, we are increasing the CO2 up take and capturing this as well as increasing the possibility of providing food for pollinating insects and habitat opportunities for birds and mammals. Currently, the Committee are discussing the feasibility of putting solar panels on the grounds building to help offset the energy consumption of the department.

We already have motion sensors on all internal areas and low-usage LED lighting. As of next spring, we are replacing 70% of our fleet of transport vehicles and some cutting units with new battery-powered models. This will reduce our petroleum-based fuel usage and the aim is to continue this trend as the technology improves. We hope that even the larger cutting units will, in the future, be electric or have a hybrid engine which can reduce the size of the diesel requirement used.

Recently we have restructured the logistics of how our main orders, of fertilizers and turf products are brought to site. We now make efforts to bring all materials in one bulk order, so to reduce the shipping footprint of deliveries. This helps reduce congestion in the area and Co2 emissions also. We already have recycling units for cardboard and glass and when we can, we reuse as much of the generated packaging from fertilizer and bulk materials that are delivered to site. Resource management is a key element of the task of running the department, but it is also a process which involves all the staff and we do share ideas and are keen to do what is possible to improve our green credentials as a department and Club.

2022 RHS Chelsea Flower Show insider info

For the stalwarts and the fresher’s who attended the autumn outing of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year, here is your opportunity to have a sneak peek at what is up and coming for the first spring show in over three years. Currently there are 33 gardens planned plus new features from new sponsor The Newt country garden and estate in Somerset. Current forecasts are that many of the sponsors who shied away from this year’s late-season show will return in 2022. There has been a cash injection from two anonymous donors who are funding eight gardens at RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2022 as well as a new six-plot category, All About Plants.

After just six show gardens at the autumn event, the donors mean Chelsea 2022 will be better populated. The Newt is to have a Main Avenue Somerset Experience exhibit and a Newt Cyder Activator on the Rock Bank, as well as sponsoring the Hospitality Space on Main Avenue, though it will not have the Crocus-built show garden M&G always had. There is space set aside for seven show gardens on Main Avenue, plus the triangle and rock bank sites, as well as six larger Project Giving Back gardens and five more gardens alongside them on Royal Hospital Way. A Herb Garden is planned opposite. There’s space for five gardens in Ranelagh Gardens, plus four houseplant studios. Some nurseries who usually would supply the designer with plants for the show gardens have decided not to commit to producing plants for the event. A source has told me that the main issue is with winters becoming less dependable, in terms of the weather consistency, contract growing plants for a deadline such as Chelsea has become more problematic than ever. Although plants will be available, the fear of not having plants primed and pristine so early in the season is putting nurserymen off.

No excuses

It has been exceedingly dry for the several weeks now and to any gardener, it’s a blessing to have such a window of opportunity to clear and tidy the garden before the festive period. If you have some spare time you may consider the following as part of your autumn routine while its cold and sunny:-

♣ Plant tulip bulbs in pots and borders, covering them with at least twice their depth of soil or compost, beware of incontrollable grey squirrels try and protect bulbs freshly planting by dusting them with chilli powder.

♣ Lift dahlia tubers after the first frost, clean them off and store in dry compost in a cool, frost-proof place

♣ Send off for seed catalogues and start planning what to grow next year

♣ Plant bare-root hedging, roses, trees and shrubs, before the weather turns really cold

♣ Cut down faded perennials that are looking tatty, then mulch the surrounding soil with garden compost

♣ Plant a Japanese maple in a pot and place in a sheltered spot in semi-shade

♣ Gather up and bin the fallen leaves of roses affected by blackspot, so they don’t carry the disease over to next year

♣ Move containers of alpine plants under cover to shelter them from winter rain

♣ Protect plants that are borderline hardy, such as agapanthus, with a thick mulch of straw or garden compost

♣ Replenish gravel mulch around alpines to keep the foliage clear of damp soil, which can cause rotting

♣ Put stem protection guards around young trees and shrubs, if rabbits are a problem

Peter Bradburn, Course and Grounds Manager –