21 February - Weather response

Has anywhere escaped the heavy rains and gales of January and February?

Much work will be in reaction to the weather, deciding on the day what takes priority but always remembering that safety comes first. Make sure that all insurance policies are up to date and staff have the correct training for any equipment they may need to jump on in a hurry. Flooding and standing water are likely to have caused leaching of nutrients and may be especially noticed later in lawned areas where sickly looking grass will let you know that it is hungry. Moss will also be a problem. Prepare for the spring by taking soil analyses so that the available and lacking nutrition can be assessed and subsequent fertiliser applications better tailored to the situation. Moss should be treated as early as time and conditions allow. Do not let it establish or it will take even more work to deal with it in the future.

Gales Carry out tree inspections but also check structures for damage. Glasshouses and conservatories may be in need of urgent glazing works. Check polytunnels for damage and tension if necessary.

Paperwork & plans For many gardens, but especially those in the South West, gale damage may still need to be cleared. Trees with their roots in waterlogged soils may have toppled and decisions will have to be taken as to how the timber might be used. Update garden records and plans when you get a moment and record areas of the garden/estate where standing water indicates that there might be a requirement for drainage, aeration or a change in visitor flow.

Keeping the public safe If you suffered a lot of damage, visitors may be the last thing on your mind. Nevertheless, they do provide the income. Safety must take priority. If the garden is closed for safety reasons, make sure it is clear that there is "no admittance". Gardens that are open must pay attention to car parks, paths, terraces and walkways — making sure that all surfaces are clean, functional and safe. Bring the events calendar up to date and add in other local events and festivities in case there is an opportunity to link in. Easter (18-21 April) is fast approaching and plans should be in place for visitor attractions, including fun elements to bring children into the garden.

Pests Slugs are a major problem and should be dealt with quickly.

Kitchen garden Where the weather has had little effect, use cloches and polythene to warm up cold soils.

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