Behind Castle walls with Adam Whitbourne

February Fun

The unseasonal weather is continuing and whether we like it or not we are in for an early spring. There are already magnolias, rhododendrons and cherry trees in flower throughout the gardens, which is wonderful to see, but leaves me somewhat unsettled. This time last year we were under snow and there is no guarantee that we are not going to see a late return to the wintery weather. I just hope our poor plants can cope with the mixed messages. That being said; the gardens are looking fabulous at the moment, and I’m delighted to see so many of our younger shrubs starting to flower for the first time.

The Himalayan walk is beautiful, as are the mansion beds and the cherries at the entrance are just starting their show. The mild weather has allowed us to get ahead with quite a few of our tidying up jobs around the estate and I’m starting to believe that we will actually be looking quite respectable for St. Patricks day. There has been so much construction and infrastructure work over the winter that it will be a little strange to see the place looking tidy and clean once again.

We are currently renovating our bog garden and will start planting the new beds in the next few weeks. We had to replace all of the boardwalk timbers as they were starting to rot in the damp conditions, so it was the ideal time to revamp the planting too. We are planning large drifts of colour and good structural plants to complement the existing areas.

We have also started work on another exciting project, ‘The Carnivorous Courtyard’ a garden of carnivorous plants that will be situated alongside our Poison Garden. The boundary hedge of yew has just gone in, and we are working on the design of the garden. Watch this space….

With all the projects and building and tidying work going on it’s easy to forget that the usual seasonal gardens work is also required. We are moving shrubs, mulching beds and paths, pruning roses, undertaking assorted tree work and planting up new saplings in our woodlands using native home-grown oaks. In the kitchen garden we are planting 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. Let’s hope they survive.  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. This year we will have even more tubs and baskets to plant up and keep watered and fed, but I’m sure it will be worth the effort. I’m hoping the next few weeks will continue to be warm and settled, but I won’t be surprised if this winter still has a sting in its tail!

Come and enjoy the wonderful spring colours in the gardens and let’s hope for a calm and settled spring. Adam