Bedford Estates Head Gardener Tom Abbott gives news of spring work in Bedford Square and some recommendations for your city window boxes.
With the warmer weather and therefore increased soil temperatures comes the opportunity to undertake the long awaited over-seeding of the main lawn at Bedford Square.
Martin Towsey, overall Gardens Manager for the Bedford Estates drove down from Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire (not on the tractor) to perform this work for us. The machine he’s using in the picture agitates the soil just under the surface, spreads grass seed and then with a large roller mounted on the rear of the unit firms the seed into the prepared ground. We’re using a mix of seed comprised principally of varieties Lolium perenne (Perennial Ryegrass) and Festuca rubra (Creeping Red Fescue), the idea being that their different growth habits – tillering and creeping respectively – will stand up to the varied rigours of a space used by both keyholders and event companies. I hope to see strong germination over the next few weeks and a stronger performance over the busy summer months.
Also in Bedford Square we have planted screening around the old compost heap – thankfully removed last year – and will continue to plant woody perennials over the next month. I intend to develop the herbaceous planting of the north and south island beds in time for summer soon. Planting here will have to take into consideration the compromised light levels at ground level being under the canopy of our mature Platanus x hispanica (London Plane) trees. Recent work in Bedford Square has also included much clearing up of twigs after “Storm Katie”. We were lucky to have suffered only a blown down fence in my yard on Montague Street and several upturned pots.
If you are wondering what to be getting on with in your city window boxes this month now is a good time to sow some herbs – chives, dill, marjoram, parsley, fennel and thyme will all begin to germinate once soil temperatures are over 6°C and if you have a space under glass basil can be started off. It’s also time to begin to gently increase watering of houseplants, cacti can also be given their first watering of the year. Hardy annuals can be sown outdoors in pots and tubs now but be cautious of putting tender plants outdoors as there is still a significant risk of overnight frost for the next month. This caution can be relaxed in a fortnight or so in very sheltered spots and particularly in the polluted sub-tropical microclimate of central London. The following list is a suggestion of some flowering hardy annuals to have a go at sowing now in pots: Centaurea (cornflower), Cosmos, Eschscholzia (California Orange Poppy) and Delphinium (larkspur). Two fantastic South American climbing annuals to frame a window or run up a bare, sunny wall are Cobaea scandens and Rhodochiton. They both produce tons of colour and with some mild attention and plenty of sun will keep flowering right into autumn.
Enjoy the spring!