February Fun

February Fun

February has been an extremely busy month for us here in the gardens. There has been a sudden explosion of colour, as spring bulbs and spring flowering trees and shrubs all burst into life. Our magnolias, rhododendrons and azaleas are all beginning to flower, and there’s something to see around every corner. The cherries will soon be joining in the show too! I really love this time of year.

The new tourist season is fast approaching, and we have many projects still to finish, including a new playground, which is a major upgrade from our old one. We have added several new pieces including a climbing frame, see-saw, and obstacle course. All of the equipment is made of Robinia wood, so fits very well into its surroundings. I’m excited to see it completed.

We are continuing with our tidying and mulching jobs around the borders and getting everything ship shape. A couple of trees came down in the woods and have provided a lot of fresh chippings for the paths in the fern garden and woodland areas. Other jobs for the next few weeks include, pruning your bush roses and feeding, general tidying up and re-edging of beds, 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.

There are many seedlings in the glass house now and at this time of year it’s 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!

The wildlife in the gardens is getting more active as the temperatures warm up and spring is in the air. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen red squirrels, kingfishers, buzzards, foxes, badgers and of course our resident swans will be nesting again shortly. The estate really is a fantastic haven for wildlife, and we are lucky to be able to share it with so many species. We try to manage the estate in the most environmentally friendly way possible and have a biodiversity plan and wildlife management plan that ensures that we always consider the potential impacts and ways to benefit all our wildlife. I see a lot of regular season ticket holders in the gardens who particularly enjoy the wilder parts of the estate and often update me on what they have seen.

The gardens are looking fantastic at the moment, and I hope some of you will take the time to make a visit over the next few weeks. Adam