Kew Gardens tree expert shares benefits of mulching trees – ‘can cook jacket potatoes!’

Kew Gardens: Staff outline their work on tourist attraction

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This week, viewers gained insight into what Kew Gardens was like in March after “one of the warmest winters on record”. The plants in the gardens were bursting back into life with spring being one of the busiest seasons in the gardening year. The Kew Gardens team raced to be ready, tackling everything from acres of planting to dealing with the arrival of spring’s unwanted pests.

The team will also begin preparations for its giant waterlily display in the small glasshouse.

In the Rock Garden, supervisor Tom will discuss the work of a botanical horticulturist.

With the spring days slowly getting longer, the to-do list for the 150-strong horticulture team at Kew Gardens also became more lengthy.

The workers who look after the trees at Kew Gardens were up bright and early in mid-March.

By the middle of March, the 14,000 trees in the arboretum are “very hungry”.

Kevin, the manager of Arboriculture at Kew Gardens explained why they mulch the trees now.

He said: “As things are starting to come into bud, as the trees are starting to wake-up, just trying to help the tree have enough fuel to go through spring and to go and produce lots of yeast that it needs to then turn into food and energy and sugars, and also for fruit and flowers.”

The team have to shift a nutritious mix of wood chips and manure which is both heavy-going and smelly.

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A member of the tree gang said: “It’s definitely stronger in the yard when it comes in – it stinks!

“But this is very nice, it’s very mushroom-y, a little bit more earthy.”

The heat from the mulch naturally kills off any seeds and pests.

Kevin also shared how the mulch can be useful for the workers too.

He said: “If you go into the centre of the piles, you can cook jacket potatoes if you leave them in there long enough.

“It will produce enough heat.”

Over the coming months, the team’s task is to spread the steamy mulch from one end of the 320-acre site to the other.

Tonight’s episode will also see viewers transported to Wakehurst in Sussex, where the team are creating a six-acre “American prairie”.

This is also where the millennium seed bank is kept – behind an actual bank vault door.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew has around 2.5 million annual visitors and is located in southwest London.

Kew Gardens has over 8.5 million preserved plant and fungal specimens and is one of London’s top tourist attractions.

Kew Gardens: A Year In Bloom: Spring airs tonight at 8pm on Channel 5

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