Grass Clippings

After the December floods, the statistics captured on site have proven that 2019 has been one of the wettest years in the last decade, despite having record high temperatures recorded in the London area that year. Last month, well over 106mm (four inches) of rain fell over the site and was only beaten by the rains of 2014 as the wettest December in the last decade. I must point out that this information is from our own site data collection and not from a national weather agency. As many of you will have observed and can understand, under such circumstances the need to allow the playing surfaces to drain naturally and the soil to absorb such amounts of rain were important so not to compromise the croquet lawns, golf greens and fairways. Over use during wet conditions drives out the air spaces in the soil and leads to quagmire conditions. The 33% rule rattles in my brain at this time of the year – ‘good soils contain 33% soil particles, 33% air spaces and 33% water particles; upset the balance at your own peril!’. We were also concerned for Members’ safety with so much surface water increasing the likelihood of slipping and taking a tumble. Fortunately, the intervening period between Christmas and New Year has been dry and allowed play to resume. We have also been able to get the heavier grass cutting machinery out onto the course and grounds to smarten the place up, always a nice way to start the year with some good definition on the course and the thought that we are moving towards spring.

The latest trend 

Houseplants are predicted to maintain their allure in the new year while a greater appreciation of the role plants play in supporting the environment and local wildlife sees renewed interest in soil, the ‘naturalising’ of plots and food growing. In a recent article, the Royal Horticulture Society (RHS) chief horticulturist Guy Barter has reported that the new decade means that gardening shall take on increased importance in helping us to create healthy and happy places to live. Some of the trends to hit the nurseries and high street this year will be that houseplants get supersized. In vogue are plants taking centre stage in the house with varieties such as Alocasia with its giant leaves (you may know as Kris or Elephant Ears) will wow guests with contrasting stems and colouring while the Monstera (Swiss Cheese Plant) gets a makeover with its deep green, patterned foliage. The soils we use in house plants will become a target for careful consideration, turning to more sustainable growing media such as wood fibre and green waste compost will be marketed across the board. Outdoors the ‘no dig’ philosophy to limit damage to soil structure and wildlife has gained attention over the last few years and is set to become the buzz word on the allotment. Nemesia and diascias: eighties favourites will see a resurgence on the shelves owing to their flexibility as a bedding, basket or container plant, compact size, long summer flowering period. New breeding programmes that have resulted in a wider range of sensational colours. 

Grow your own

Food growing becomes an obvious route for many in helping to support the environment, by reducing plastic use and countering food miles, as well as building connections in more communal settings. Chillies remain the number one choice owing to their ease of growing, colour and varieties. Beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, soya and other legumes also become a staple of the vegetable plot, pushing out more traditional choices such as parsnips and calabrese. Now is the time to start to plan a veg plot for the season and the rotation of crops for the area. Always try to rotate planting so the same crop isn’t situated in the same area each year, reducing pest and disease issues. This is the busy time for seed suppliers and whether to direct sow, in spring, or use pre-grown plants is one issue to consider. Herb gardens are also on the rise and from March is the optimum sowing time to get plants established well before you start to harvest leaves for the kitchen. Now is also the perfect time to plant bare root roses and get them off to a good start before spring creeps up on us. Direct delivery from the nursery is a safe bet these days, due to fast short delivery times from field to garden. Use reputable nurseries that have a specialism for rose growing rather than special offers from non- descript suppliers. Unpack deliveries as soon as they arrive and soak in a bucket of water overnight before planting the next day. Add well-rotted compost to the planting pit and mix well in with a garden fork. For the plant itself, inspect the roots and ensure there is a good ratio of older tap roots to fibrous roots that will ensure good growth in spring. Trim roots which are over 6 inches in length back to this point and then dust the roots with mycorrhizal powder, to stimulate growth. Firm well on planting and ensure the planting mark, the point of the above ground / below ground parts of the shrub are slightly buried lower than this mark. Finally, prune bush roses once planted to around 4 inches from the base and for shrub and climbers 12 inches from the soil level. Enjoy a summer full of colour and fragrance by adding roses to any boarder.

Preserving Polo

Earlier last year, we were alerted by one of our Members that the last relic of the forgotten polo fields was entangled in a mass of tree suckers by the 10th tees on the course. This winter we have cleaned out the area to reveal, what I am reliably told, was part of the outfield posts for the sport. Ian, our longest member of staff at the Club, remembers a gantry and possibly part of the score board frame in this area. We have since commissioned a plaque to commemorate this long lost part of the Club’s heritage and smartened up the area for all to see. If any Members have any photographs of the polo fields and in particular the structure in question, we would be very interested to look at these and ensure Steve, the Club’s archivist, documents the information.

Peter Bradburn | Course and Grounds Manager |