RHS Chelsea 2023 - Update No.5

RHS Chelsea 2023 - Update No.5

Is Spring just around the corner? 

Our last post ended by saying that ''it might be premature to think that winter is nearly over''. Well, it certainly is not! Despite a brief milder interlude earlier in February it has continued to be uncomfortably cold, especially at night with frequent frosts. Whilst there are visible signs of shoots breaking into growth, most plants are still sitting tightly dormant and refusing to budge. On a positive note, it has not rained for a couple of weeks and so at least the ground is drying out. 

An early Spring generally makes it difficult to hold back early flowering plants like Fritillaria, Angelica, Polemonium and Aquilegia, and it means that we empty our warm polytunnels much earlier, moving our plants for the Chelsea Flower Show into cooler shadier places. 2022 was a very early spring and considerably stretched our resources and magic tricks! 

With foliage plants, in particular Matteuccia, the shuttlecock fern was highly demanding, the warm weather making some of the tight shuttlecocks of foliage want to open out and flatten thus ruining their signature look. Adoxa, also called Town Hall Clock, a diminutive cutie was hanging on to every last petal of its tiny flowers when it reached the famous showground.

Adoxa moschatellina

A late Spring causes the opposite set of challenges. Whilst great for the early flowering plants, it means that we need to keep all the later flowering ones tucked up in the warm for much longer. Some of these particular flowering plants include, Verbascum, Campanula and the later flowering foxgloves.

Verbascum clementine

Some of the foliage plants such as ferns and aralias may also need a warm kick before their leaves will be impressive enough to deserve the 150-mile journey to take their place in a Chelsea Flower Show Garden.

Dryopteris filix-mas

In many ways though it is easier to warm plants up and make them grow faster than it is to reduce temperatures and slow them down. So, whilst we are feeling challenged, we are not yet out of our comfort zone. Our team of experienced growers know exactly which plants need special care and our warmest tunnels to coax them into leaf and flower.

Saxifraga Kinki Purple

Vents remain closed apart from opening them up once a day to change the air. Some of our polytunnels are fully open around the sides throughout the year. These have now been covered over with plastic to seal them and increase the daytime temperature by 10-15 degrees which makes a substantial difference. In a few weeks the sides will be removed again once everything is a little more on course.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Posted by Liam Murphy
7th March 2023

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