Wild times in the Plant Centre

A few weeks of warm weather and we’re watering, pruning and welcoming new staff and friends both feathered and furry

We’ve been rushed off our feet in the Plant Centre over the last few weeks, with the lovely warm weather bringing a rush of visitors. Whilst we all love working outside in our sunglasses and shorts, the warm weather has meant one thing - watering! With the driest April and May for years and the mysterious disappearance of one of our hosepipes, our new team members Ben and Marie have had plenty of practice mastering the art of watering.

Blackbird nesting in the Plant CentreAnd they’re not the only new residents of the Plant Centre. Yet again we have a blackbird nesting on the staging in our yard area and this year she’s chosen a very modern design using plastic shrink wrap. We’ll be making sure to be extra quiet over the next few weeks so we don’t disturb her.

The wildlife in the Plant Centre is always a hit with our visitors, whether it’s the frogs and newts hiding under plant pots, the family of blue tits using the nest box in our insect hotel or our resident squirrel inventing ever more ingenious ways to eat from the bird feeders.

Oscar the cat settles into his new homeOne of our most memorable characters was Oscar. Almost a year ago now I found Oscar the tabby cat in the Plant Centre looking lost and very thin; he’d been missing from the local cattery for almost three months. I fell in love instantly with his wonky ear and gorgeous green eyes and am happy to report that after years without a proper home, he moved in with me just a couple of weeks ago and is settling in well.

Tying in climbers in the Plant CentreThis week our team has been busy catching up on some tidying and plant care.

As well as tying-in our range of climbers, which have put on a growth spurt in the warm weather, I’ve been pruning deciduous early flowering shrubs like Viburnum × bodnantense ‘Dawn’ and Lonicera × purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’, as well as removing any frost-damaged leaves from our more tender shrubs. We’ve also been ‘pinching out’ bedding plants like fuchsias to encourage more flowers and bushier growth and been topdressing plants in pots to keep them looking fresh.

In the gift shop, Pete and his team have had a redesign of the accessories department and created some lovely summer-inspired displays. Meanwhile in the bookshop, the team are celebrating the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll by handing out free activity sheets to children. With the RHS Chelsea Flower Show winners announced earlier this week and our Harlow Car hybrid primulas not long off making an appearance, it’s set to be a busy few weeks.

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