Head Gardener’s Notes: April

Welcome back to the garden.

It’s been such lovely warm weather so a great time for seedling growth.

I always grow plants from seed for the museum’s garden, but last year we also held plant sales to raise money to help buy resources for the garden. I also worked with my sister and raised plants for plant sales to raise money for The Connected Hub, a school in Brighton that specialises in helping young people who, for many reasons, find they can’t attend a normal mainstream school, to achieve GCSEs and work out where they can progress to. I had a number of old packets of seed inherited from my family, and other seed I got from a lovely friend, so at the beginning of the year I planned for this year’s sales and started growing all the seed. I have at least 500 young plants I am caring for, and then the virus changes everything.

I am hoping there will still be a way of using the plants to raise money, otherwise my garden will look amazing!

My green house (below) showing some of my seedlings. Seedlings for the dye garden that are doing well are safflower, tagetes and dahlias, cosmos and rudbeckia and sunflowers (pictured below).


In the garden things are growing well. The woad is about to flower, and the dyers chamomile cuttings I took last year are growing well. I have pinched them out to help form an attractive bushy growth. The weld is a beautiful bright green and the roses are starting to bloom.

Roses are not dye plants, but I am allowing them in because they are good for use in a technique called hapa-zome, which is a technique for imprinting the shape and some colour of the plant material by placing the leaves, flowers etc between two layers of material and then tapping all over with a hammer or stone.

There is one bed in the garden that faces north and this is not so easy to use as most dye plants love sun. At one end, in the corner, we have a mahonia with golden rod growing around its base. These both tolerate more shady conditions.

The golden rod is just coming through a mulch of beach leaves. At the other end is the ornamental rhubarb. The pink buds of the ornamental rhubarb have produced it’s striking first leaves.

The rest of the bed still need a plan, but through my research I have found out that meadowsweet ( Filipendula), tolerates shade. It is a very attractive wild plant so that’s part of the developing plan.

Jobs I will be concentrating on in the coming month are, seedling care, more mowing, and continuing to prepare the beds ready for planting out in May.

Best wishes for a wonderful and productive month ahead.