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28 APR

An Exceptional April

Fagus in the bluebells

April has been an absolute joy here in the gardens. The colours throughout the borders are exceptional this year. The relatively settled and warmer weather has meant an extended flowering time for our cherries, magnolias, camellias, and early rhododendrons. I hope you have managed to get in to see them. As they now begin to fade, they are being replaced by azaleas and rhododendrons, as well as large drifts of bluebells and wild garlic through the woods. There is literally something new around every corner!

The wildlife on the estate continues to go from strength to strength. We have recently confirmed the presence of woodpeckers in the arboretums, with a lovely video taken on one of our camera traps. We also captured a huge variety of other birds, as well as plenty of mischievous red squirrels. A cuckoo was heard in the last few days and the herons are nesting in the trees along the riverside. I am delighted to see so much of our native fauna around. It really underlines the importance of having a management plan that prioritises the biodiversity.

We are a little late this year with moving out all our tender plants and are only really getting to it now. I always wait for the overnight temperatures to come up before risking putting them out. Hopefully, there will be very few late frosts this year. It is always nice to see them back as they form an integral part of the tropical borders and fern garden.

Another area we will shortly be planting up is the Vietnamese woodland. Seeds collected in 2018 and 2019 have been germinated and grown on in the glasshouses and are now big enough to plant out. It will be exciting to see how they do in their new home. This is an ex-situ conservation project, and we hope to establish many rare and endangered species over the coming years.

We are really into the hectic season now and there is certainly no shortage of work! Jobs for the next few weeks: Plant indoor tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers if you haven’t already, start to tie in and pinch out growth on the grape vine, thin indoor peaches to ensure a good quality crop, sow herbs in six packs and then plant out when they reach a manageable size, this also works well for lettuce. Watch out for slug damage and check for greenfly both indoors and out. A good tip for dealing with greenfly is mix some washing up liquid and water in a jug to make a lot of foam, then apply this foam directly to the infested areas to completely cover the aphids. It is very effective! Now is the time to start thinking about staking herbaceous plants before they become too established. Dahlias can be planted out in the beds now and we will shortly be planting out our bedding plants. There is still a risk of frost though so be on standby with horticultural fleece.

Getting outdoors is vital for both physical and mental wellbeing. We love to see so many of you enjoying the grounds and gardens. Over the coming weeks look out for our rhododendrons and azaleas. They will be stealing the show! I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam

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