Behind Castle Walls with Adam Whitbourn

Not a normal November!

Regular readers of my blog will have missed the October entry. This was due to the aftermath of storm Ophelia, which was consuming a great deal of my time. The estate was hit hard, with a large number of trees being completely demolished as well as hundreds of smaller branch breaks and splits that left dangerous hangers that had to be individually dealt with. We were very lucky that there were no injuries and only had a little structural damage to deal with. The biggest losses for us were the 12 weeping limes on our main avenue. This has left huge gaps and the rest of the avenue is now completely unbalanced. The end result may be a very difficult decision to remove the whole avenue and start again. For the time being though, we are concentrating on tidying up the mess. Getting the estate back up and running was a major achievement and the staff have to be commended for their efforts. We are continuing to clean up and I don’t expect to be back to normal until at least March. The one positive outcome is that it has cleared out some of our less healthy trees and left spaces for new planting. 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 planting some large specimen trees, and are expecting a delivery of fruit for our Kitchen Garden beds. Another big planting job is our new Winter Walk. We have opened up several large beds that will be planted up with shrubs that display winter colour and early spring flowers. It should add a whole new dimension to the walk that links up our herbaceous border and stumpery. I’ll be very impatient to see how this develops. Another newly finished feature is the jetty on our lake. It’s added an opportunity to get out beyond the reeds and get a look at the whole lake, and in addition looks fantastic. Leaf collection is an important task this time of year. 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! If you don’t have a compost heap you can always stack a few bags full of leaves and a little grass clippings behind the shed and leave them there for a few months while they break down. Poke a few holes in the bottom of each bag to help the creepy crawlies find their way in. 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. Winter offers a great opportunity for some fantastic walks around the estate.

I hope to see you in the gardens. Adam