Jim’s Jotting for April


It can be hard to fathom which are the climatic factors which make the nursery busy in March. After the winter customer drought, I am always relieved when the thermometer climbs above 10°. Whilst I don’t regard this March as particularly warm, sunshine levels have been higher than normal and there has been no night frost. As sunshine is my power source, growth results and this year plenty of it. That all makes for good sized and healthy plants. Sunny weather results in low humidity and that results in low incidence of fungal disorders. But above all, the greatest impact of this frost free March has been in the preservation and longevity of that glorious feast of spring: the rich and exuberant blossom of magnolias, Rhododendrons, Corylopsis, Camellias and Cherries. On a difficult day, I had the privilege of walking a garden full of these plants, and it took just an hour there to restore my spirits and fire my enthusiasm for what can be and should be achieved. There is work to done!

It is many years since I was foreman at Knaphill Nursery near Woking. Founded in 1795, it was full of wonderful plants acquired over many generations by the Waterer family. In the long walk through the nursery was a small tree: Aesulus neglecta ‘Erythroblastos’. The name is much more than an internet password. This Chestnut tree variant has a superb eruption of pink shoots in the spring. There is one on the north edge of the car park though in rather too much shade. On the same theme, we have plants of Toona sinensis ‘Flamingo’. Originally named Cedrella, this small tree has a similarly striking display of pink foliage.