Behind Castle walls with Adam

Flowers in February Spring is definitely in the air! The bulbs around the estate are creating some great displays at the moment and there are little splashes of colour around every corner. We have been adding more bulbs every year with the emphasis on increasing the impact and lengthening flowering times. I like to use varieties that will naturalise in the gardens as this is a much better investment in the long run. Some of our early Rhododendrons are already out too and I am looking forward to the flowering Cherries next, as they are usually out by the end of March. We are in the process of setting up a new plant sales area at the turnstiles and hope to offer a range of plants that come from the gardens. We are often asked by visitors where they can source something that they have seen here in the gardens, so it made sense to start to produce our own stock. We will start off small but will increase the range as the season progresses. Please do keep an eye open for it. We are continuing with our tidying and mulching jobs around the borders, cutting back and getting everything ship shape. All the shrub beds, especially the azaleas and rhododendrons, are a priority now as they will be the focus for visitors in the coming weeks. We are using composted bark as a mulch on the beds and around young trees. 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. We try to get ahead with the housekeeping jobs this month as the pressure will be on once the growth starts. There are many seedlings in the glass house now and at this time of year it is one of my favourite areas. I always get huge satisfaction from watching the seedlings emerging, especially if it’s something rare or unusual. I’m quickly becoming a bit of an obsessive collector of rare trees, and there’s nothing more satisfying than having grown it yourself from seed. The problem is finding space in the gardens for them all! Jobs for the next few weeks include, pruning your bush roses, dead heading and tidying hydrangeas, cutting back grasses, general tidying up and re-edging of beds and 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. We have seen a surge in numbers of season pass holders over the last few weeks. I think that the improving weather and rising temperatures are not just helping the plants to emerge! It’s great to see the gardens being appreciated by so many. The work which has gone into the gardens over the last few years is really paying off now as the areas begin to mature. We have built a fantastic team here and it is being reflected in the quality of the grounds and gardens.

I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam

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