A Floriferous February
February has brought the promise of spring, and there are signs of it all through the gardens. Pockets of multicoloured flowers sparkle in the wet grass wherever you turn. Crocus, Daffodils, Snowdrops, Iris, and cyclamen to name a few, along with a stunning collection of flowering shrubs to accompany them, such as Camellia, Rhododendron and Magnolias. Our Rhododendron arboreum in the Himalayan Valley is already starting to flower and will soon be a mass of red blossoms. It is a tree-sized specimen estimated at around 150 years old and it alone is worth a trip to see. I love this time of the year in the gardens!
We had a bit of storm damage over the last couple of weeks and unfortunately lost a couple of our old Lime trees. There was a bit of work required to make everything safe before we could open up the areas again, and we will be clearing timber for quite some time. I’m always sad to see veteran trees go, but we usually have a new young tree waiting in the wings to take their place.
We are very busy at the moment with all the usual seasonal garden work. 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 and mixed conifer species. 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 as they come into flower. Ours are just starting now. Let’s hope they survive.
The pruning of apples and pears should be finished in the next week or two. We are also in the process of planting out the last of our bare root fruit trees and ornamentals. We are starting off our begonia tubers in the polytunnel. 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.
Our Winter borders have been a huge success and we have decided to add 2 more to further improve the display. We will shortly be laying out the design before we mulch the new beds with old carpet and chipped bark. This is a way of killing off the grass without having to resort to using chemicals. We then plan to plant them up later in the year.
March came around very quickly and the traditional start to our tourist season, St. Patricks day, is just around the corner. The pressure is on to get the grounds and gardens looking their best, and we hope that 2022 will be the start of a return to a more normal routine. It’s been a tough two years and we are so grateful for all the positive feedback and support we have received from the season ticket holders and visitors in general.
I’m hoping the next few weeks will bring some warm and settled weather, 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.