Professional Gardener - Visitor reviews, staffing levels and first aid

Garden development programmes can benefit from thorough visitor assessments, says Sally Drury.

Visitor assessments

Complete a thorough review of the Easter/royal wedding period, asking staff for feedback and input. Write notes on car parking, visitor numbers, flow patterns and congestion points around the estate for use in garden development programmes.

How well did staff levels work during the bank holidays? Address any problems and note suggestions for how they can be avoided in future. Look at what worked well and whether there are ideas that can be developed to encourage new visitors and maintain repeat-visitor numbers.

Staffing levels

Ensure sufficient man hours are available for grass cutting, weeding and watering duties. Consider hiring part-time hands if necessary.

Personal protective equipment and first aid

Make sure that sufficient suncream is available for staff use. Check first aid provision and replenish as necessary.

Glasshouses and conservatories

Check that shading is ready for use. Damp down regularly to increase humidity levels but as watering increases, pay attention to weather forecasts so that ventilators can be left open when appropriate in order to increase air circulation and lower the risk of Botrytis where that is likely to be a threat.

Keep paths and benches clean and tidy to reduce opportunities for the spread of pests and diseases. Pot up seedlings and repotted plants that have flowered as necessary. Continue to remove side shoots from tomatoes in greenhouses and give weekly feeds of a high-potash fertiliser to tomatoes, peppers and aubergines. Watch out for aphids and control.

Kitchen garden

Continue successional sowings of lettuce, peas, broad beans, cabbage, carrots, beetroot, salad onions and radishes. Consider sowing Swiss chard and leaf beet. Transplant Brussels sprouts and other winter brassicas sown earlier.

Use pheromone traps to control codling moths on apples - one trap for every three trees. Place straw or mats around strawberry plants to protect the fruit, limit damage from rain-splashing and prevent rotting. To save the plants' energy, remove runners if they are not required for propagation.

Where the runners are to be used for new plants, reduce the number to five per plant and peg them into small pots sunk into the soil. Prune out unwanted shoots on raspberries. Mulch all fruit bushes to retrain soil moisture.

Lawns and grass paths

The cutting height deemed normal for this time of year may need reviewing depending on the amount of rainfall received. Leaving a little extra length may keep it greener for longer.

Newly-sown lawns can benefit from a light roll once the seed has germinated and the grass is about an inch high. A first cut of new lawns can be given when around 2in high. Continue edging work.

Tulips and bedding

Lift tulips from beds needed for summer bedding and heel them in on spare ground to allow foliage to die naturally. Prepare soil to receive annuals when the risk of frost is past. Consider next year's annuals and make sowings of wall flowers, sweet Williams and winter-flowering pansies.

Shrubs

Lightly trim box hedging and edging.


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