Behind Castle Walls with Adam

February fun Spring is definitely in the air! There are little splashes of colour around every corner as the bulbs start to wake up from their winter slumbers. Buds are bursting here and there, and the frogs have been busy in our pond. I find this time of year is very good for the soul. It definitely is a fun time of year. As usual, February was extremely busy. We like to try and have the big jobs completed in time for the St Patricks weekend, which is traditionally the start of our season. Locals will have noticed that one side of the castle has been covered in plastic for the last few months for a major renovation project. This should be completed in the coming weeks. Another project we have been on with is the maintenance and replacement of sections of our boardwalks, the damp conditions in the bog garden take their toll, and we have to replace rotting joists before they collapse. We will shortly be starting construction of a bamboo hut in our new Jungle which will provide a welcome focal point. We recently took delivery of a new batch of hardy exotic plants which will add structure to what is promising to be an extremely interesting area. We are continuing with our tidying and mulching jobs around the borders and getting everything ship shape. All of the azalea and rhododendron beds are a priority at the moment as they will be the focus for visitors in the coming months. Fresh bark chippings are being put down on the paths in the fern garden and woodland areas. This is all produced ‘in house’ from fallen or pruned trees. There are many seedlings in the glass house now from last Novembers Vietnam trip. I always get huge satisfaction from watching the seedlings emerging, especially if it’s something rare or unusual. The new seedlings will be grown on and eventually incorporated into the gardens or used to trade with other gardens both here and in the UK. Some of the species that we are growing are highly endangered in their native habitat, and we have the chance to help save these species through ex-situ conservation. Some plant species that are extinct in the wild only exist in botanic gardens because of plant hunters that took the trouble to collect them. Jobs for the next few weeks include, pruning your bush roses and feeding, general tidying up and re-edging of beds, moving and dividing herbaceous plants, plant potatoes as the soil dries out, sow seeds of bedding plants, tomatoes and peppers and plant out onions, garlic and shallots if not already done. Pollinate peach, nectarine and apricot trees with a small paint brush. Ours are just coming into flower now.  Pruning of apples and pears should be finished now. We are starting off our begonia tubers in the poly tunnel. They provide a mass of summer colour to our tubs and baskets around the entrance, and are remarked on every year. I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam