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Jim Gardiner

Jim Gardiner Director of Horticulture RHS Garden Wisley

Jim Gardiner is the recently appointed Director of Horticulture for the Royal Horticultural Society and has previously been Curator and Chief Curator based at Wisley for over twenty years. Before that he was Curator at the Hillier Gardens and Arboretum. His primary interest is in woody plants, in particular Magnolias on which he has written two books, “Magnolias, their Care and Cultivation” and “Magnolias, A Gardener’s Guide”.

  • Date Joined: 12 Jul 2007

Recent Comments

How to mow and how to sow a meadow

Posted by Jim Gardiner on 19 Aug 2009 at 02:26 PM

What a beautiful day it is today.  Glorious sun and blue sky, and Wisley looks fantastic.  I think the sunflowers on the Trials Field would agree, maybe thinking they're in Tuscany... if sunflowers could think! 


We've flowers all over, and the Top Terrace bedding is really tall now, with the cosmos dominating.  And the developments on the Weather Hill Rose Garden are coming on well now.  This morning we took delivery of some gravel for the drainage system.


Last week the Woody and Alpine team worked on mowing the Alpine Meadow.  We cut this every year and remove the plant material because we need to maintain low fertility for the benefit of the flowers.  If we were to let the fertility increase we'd find the grasses outcompeting the flowers, and the display would decline year on year. 


So, we cut the meadow by hand (due to the steep gradient) and leave it for 2 or 3 days for the hay to dry and the seeds to disperse before raking it up.  Then we take the cuttings to the arboretum, where we pile it up high around (but not touching) some of the trees to acts as a mulch.  It breaks down and returns nutrients to the trees, which is fine, as well as helping to control weeds and moisture levels.  An added bonus is that some of the wild flowers of the Alpine Meadow are self seeding in the arboretum too.


Another meadow area we've enjoyed this year has been the prairie meadow on the western side of the Glasshouse, as I featured in an earlier blog.  On Thursday 10th September we're holding a Perennial Seeding day here which will be a unique one day workshop with gardening experts from across the UK.  James Hitchmough, Keith Wiley and Chris Jones will show how perennial seed sowing can be good for the garden and the environment.  You'll have the chance to learn how this new style of planting is being developed, the types of species that can be used, care and management and how it can be incorporated into the most sleek and modern of garden designs.  Tickets are £75 per head and include entry into the garden and lunch.  To purchase tickets please phone 0845 612 1253 or click here for more information.

Meanwhile, let's hope for some more lovely summer days to enjoy in the garden. 



permanent said:

If you do as I do and mow your meadow with a ride on, you can pick up the grass and take it where you want to use it as mulch straight away. This saves a great deal of effort. I have been doing this for 18 years on an ancient meadow and have ever increasing flowers despite not leaving the grass cut for the seeds to shed.Presumably they drop just as they would in the wild, before cutting or during the disturbance of the cut.

on 21 Aug 2009 at 11:32 AM