December has passed in a blur, and I find myself looking into the new year with a renewed sense of hope. Spring is just around the corner and new life is already emerging around the gardens. The snowdrops on the front avenue are starting to wake up, and a couple of early varieties are in flower in the new winter borders. It’s always one of the first real signs of spring for me. Our famous early daffodil avenue is a little late this year, but there are a few already out and I expect it will be in full flower by February. It’s always nice to get the unexpected sight of more than 40,000 daffodils in full bloom so early in the year. I’m looking forward to seeing all our newly planted bulbs emerging over the coming months and watching the gardens wake up from their Winter slumber.
We have a lot of jobs lined up for January. It’s seen by many as a quiet time of year in the garden, but for us it’s a chance to get ahead with the mulching, edging and general housekeeping before the real madness! It’s also now time for pruning and tidying the grape vines, fruit trees and bushes as well as ornamentals. Our new cider apple orchard will be getting some formative pruning next week. While doing this we will be firming up the roots of young trees and plants that may have been loosened by the high winds and wet conditions. It is extremely important, and you should check your own gardens for this too.
Our tree surgeons will be busy in the coming weeks as they do their annual checks of the mature trees around the estate. This involves climbing to examine the canopies for cavities or dead wood and in some unfortunate cases even felling a tree for safety reasons. Our arboretums have really benefitted from professional regular care over the years, and because of this we are seeing healthier trees that are better prepared to withstand the more extreme weather that we are seeing.
It has been a very mild winter so far but I’m always aware of the chance of a sudden change. I believe we could still be in for a cold snap at some point and we have the fleece and straw ready to protect the less hardy plants should this happen. Regardless of the weather, the grounds and gardens really look beautiful at this time of year, especially the lake walk. There is something here for all the family, and let’s face it, anything that gets us outside and into nature, especially the children, must be a good thing. We are very lucky to have such a diverse estate on our doorstep, and the season tickets are a bargain for locals who wish to make it a regular visit.
I hope to see you in the gardens in the coming weeks. Adam