Behind Castle Walls with Adam Whitbourne

November in Nam Christmas is approaching fast and the hustle and bustle and general madness is definitely upon us. Work in the gardens has become very typical for the season, with emphasis on tidying, cutting back and mulching. We have also started several new projects including two new garden areas and a new fruit cage in our walled garden. I have just finished putting together a large fruit order which will ensure a plentiful supply of ice cream in the coming years. I was lucky enough to spend the first half of November in Northern Vietnam, for the second year in a row. I was leading a 4 person expedition, studying and collecting native plants. We were working with botanists from the Institute of Ecology in Vietnam. It was wonderful and hugely informative and we collected seed from many endangered plant species. We will be growing a large range of this collection in the grounds and are in the process of creating a Vietnamese woodland garden. With the habitat loss that is occurring in their native country, it is important that large gardens like ourselves practice what is known as ex-situ conservation. We retain stock of plants that may one day be needed to re-establish wild populations. A big job for us this time of the year is leaf collection. We compost a lot of our leaf litter, as it’s a free source of extremely good mulch for plants. Let’s face it the natural ways are usually the best! We do not however collect up the leaves from our main Lime tree avenue. These are pushed back under the trees to provide a protective mulch and feed for the snowdrops and bluebells that live there. December is always a month where we aim to finish up projects etc, but I have learnt to be fairly realistic. Life goes on in January! Other work for the month includes wind lopping roses to prevent wind rock, roughly digging over vegetable beds, tidying up and disinfecting glasshouses, planting or moving bare root trees and shrubs, sorting out compost bins and spreading on the surface of vegetable beds, tree surgery and general housekeeping. We have had a great year here in the gardens and I feel that things have progressed very well. It’s very exciting to be part of this historic site. We have a progressive and energetic team here and I would like to express my gratitude to everyone involved in the grounds and gardens. It really is a wonderful place to be! All of us here would like to wish everybody a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year. We hope to see more of you in the gardens next year. Do make use of the season passes, as they represent excellent value for money. I look forward to seeing you in the gardens in 2017. Adam