Easter and the Spring Equinox
By Jayne Alcock, Grounds and Gardens Supervisor at The Walled Gardens of Cannington
At this time of year we celebrate Easter and the spring equinox. Easter is very early this year, its date varies, governed by the phases of the moon. As the nights draw out and daffodils greet us from gardens and verges across the region, we are reminded of the symbolism of this time of year - resurrection, renewal and rebirth.
There are many flowers associated with this time of year, such as, ornamental daisies, primroses, wallflowers and thousands of bulbs including the firm favourites of daffodils and tulips as well as naturalised scilla, anemone and chionodoxa. These colourful flowers can also be found in The Walled Gardens of Cannington, which are a delight at this time of year, reminding us and calls us to awaken from the slumber of winter, as a new energy takes hold.
There are many specimens which have biblical references, such as the Judas tree, which Judas Iscariot is said to have hung himself from after betraying Jesus. According to legend, the once white flowers turned red in spring as they blushed with shame at being associated with the crucifixion. The Bishop’s Garden houses two Judas trees and reminds us of the connection to the adjacent mediaeval priory, and also contains many specimens mentioned in the bible or related to Christianity.
The long Easter bank holiday weekend is a busy time of year for gardeners. The garden staff at The Walled Gardens of Cannington affectionately call this time of year ‘silly season’ as everything seems to need attention all at the same time! Here are some of the jobs that are on our list at the moment:
Mowing lawns – don’t wait until it becomes an arduous task. This is a good one if you don’t have a lot of time as it instantly neatens up the look of a garden. If you have a bit more time, putting a neat edge on a lawn will smarten up your garden even more.
Weeding – little and often is the key here, thus stopping them seeding and getting a foothold, like the dreaded dandelion, with one plant having hundreds of seeds and potentially putting down a tap root the size of a parsnip! Weeds are much easier to pull when young and you have a better chance of removing all the root. Our 75 metre long Herbaceous Border gets weeded many times during spring, and eventually the leaves of the plants we want, will suppress further weed growth.
Greenhouse – On sunny days, open up your greenhouse doors and vents, however make sure to close them at night as the temperature still dips low at this time of year.
Seeding – There is still time to sow seeds to add colour to your garden over summer and fill in any gaps that you have. They will grow quickly as light and warmth levels continue to increase. Give your pots a once over too, top dressing them and applying a general fertiliser.
Mulching – place your home-made compost on your most treasured plants, such as roses or those that have been recently planted. This will suppress weed growth, provide nutrients, improve the structure of the soil, increase levels of micro-organisms and hold water at the roots during the long, hot days of summer. Make sure it is at least two inches deep for the plants to gain the most benefit. They will flower better and won’t need constant watering in the summer, so you can kick back and enjoy them!
Whatever you do, don’t forget one of the most important jobs, spending some time with your feet up, enjoying the results of all your hard work, and maybe munching on a chocolate egg or two! Such a wonderful time of year, with everything to come…