This time of year is always hectic here in the gardens. A lot of people think that we slow down in the winter months but in reality it never does! As our tourist season dies down and the general maintenance jobs like grass cutting ease off we start our seasonal jobs and new projects. We are well underway with tidying and we are currently cutting back and mulching the herbaceous borders. We had to wait until the overnight frosts came, and plants started to die back. It’s a little sad every autumn to see it fade away and it’s hard to imagine that all that lush growth will be back in abundance next year. The laying of reclaimed cobble edging on the herbaceous border is an ongoing job. We are taking the opportunity to also revamp the entrance area and widen the beds to make it a higher impact area that hopefully draws people in. The old timber edging was always a stop-gap solution and these new cobbles really give the borders an air of permanence. Another current project is the tidying up and expanding of our Irish Garden. This is a collection of Irish native plant species with information signs that discuss conservation and biodiversity but also tell of particular myths and legends associated with the plant. It’s been ticking over for the last few years, but one of our gardeners has taken the project under his wing and I’m delighted to see it progressing. Next time you’re in the gardens make sure to pop in for a look. It’s situated off the path between the poison garden and woodland walk. We are also in the middle of replacing rotten timber posts on some of our board walk areas. This is a particularly messy job as the boardwalk crosses our bog garden. Once this is complete we will be replanting the whole bog garden, which is a project I’m particularly excited about. Planting season is upon us and we are currently putting in a large number of trees and shrubs throughout the estate. A lot of the more rare and unusual varieties were grown ourselves from wild collected seed. We are also expecting delivery of a number of root-balled trees to replace lost or storm damaged specimens or simply to add to the diversity of our collections. 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 have bought a new leaf mulcher this year and it’s proving extremely popular. We do not, however, collect up the leaves from our main Lime tree avenue or in the arboretums. These are pushed back under the trees to provide protective mulch and feed for the snowdrop and bluebell bulbs that live there.
All of us here in the castle and gardens 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. Adam