Grass Clippings

A Happy New Year to all and we hope for better times and a resumption of a more typical year sometime soon. Within the course and grounds department it’s very much a time to try and do whatever is possible depending on whatever the weather is thrown our way.

We are currently trying to take advantage of the moderately dry weather and cutting the golf course, courts and lawns as much as possible. The 18th tee project is progressing well and the turf is almost all placed where it should be. It will need to begin to grow in and establish as the weather improves. During this third lockdown the team will continue with winter work projects and keeping the estate in good working order for when Members return as spring arrives to the Club.

With the holidays pretty-much over what do you do with the fading Christmas tree? Many councils in the area have a tree collection service as part of their winter programme but it is worth checking the website of your local authority to ensure you know the correct collection day for your area. Councils prefer nude trees, without decorations, stands or pots attached or soil and plastic trees are a no, no as they will usually chip through a shredder and use this material for horticultural use.

Recycled resource

In the garden, an unwanted Christmas tree can be a valuable resource which can be employed in many ways. Pine needles dry quickly and decompose slowly, making them an excellent moisture and mold-free mulch for ground-covering crops, such as strawberries, to rest on. If you have ericaceous plants, such as heathers or rhododendrons, mulch around the base of the tree with pine needles to add acidity to the ground, which will improve the plants for the future.

You can create a bird sanctuary with the boughs of a Christmas tree by filling bird feeders and hang them from the boughs, or drape the tree with a swag of pinecones coated with peanut butter. At this time of the year, the birds need as much help as possible to get through the lean month and simple steps like this can make all the difference. This time of the year the harsh winds, frost and snow can damage perennial plans no end. Use cut-off boughs and lay them over perennial beds to protect them from snow and reduce frost heaving. Using the branches as natural staking for draping frost protection fabric is a good recycling idea as well. Finally, if you have a lot of woody material that has been pruned during the autumn, then renting a chipper and creating your own mulch, including the Christmas tree, is a good idea.

Extreme weather wending our way?

Meteorologists for the UK’s leading weather service, the Met Office, have said an extreme weather event is ‘not out of the question’ for this January. Experts from the weather central command office are keeping a close eye on an unusual weather pattern in the stratosphere above the North Pole, which as very similar to the one which brought snow and plunged the UK into days of chaos in February and March 2018. John Griffiths, a meteorologist at the Met Office, has commented in the press: ‘We are expecting a Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW) to take place and that does increase the risk of another Beast from the East. A SSW can occur over the North Pole and basically be initiated by a change in the wind direction, which Met Office staff are predicting could happen later this week. It normally flows Westerly, but when it reverses to the East, the winds start to drop to surface level. That causes yet another type of weather phenomenon known as the North Atlantic Oscillation. This then causes fluctuations in the difference of atmospheric pressure at sea level between the Icelandic Low and the Azores High, which usually brings cold weather to Northern Europe but can include the UK. Mr Griffiths continued, ‘A SSW doesn’t always mean cold, although on average it does tend to be, so we have to be cautious’. Like politicians, weathermen try not to give you a straight answer whenever possible. So far the south east of the country has evaded the snows that have hit the Scotland and the north. The Met Office warns that extreme weather events at this time of the year come in ten year cycles so we shall have to see if the predictions do ring true for this season.

Keep warm while we ride out the cold weather period.

Peter Bradburn | Course and Grounds Manager