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30 NOV

Nature walks in November

Horse

I honestly cannot figure out what happened to November. I suppose we have been so busy wishing away the time that it has finally happened! December will also fly by and we will shortly be in a new, and hopefully more ‘normal’ year. Fortunately, the gardens do not know anything of the virus or lockdowns. Plants continue to grow and develop with the seasons, and animals follow their usual routines. Simply put, life carries on with or without us. That is why it is good to get outside and connect with nature. It gives good perspective.

This time of year is always hectic here in the gardens. A lot of people think that we slow down in the winter months but, in reality it never does! As the general maintenance jobs like grass cutting ease off, we start our seasonal jobs and new projects. We are well underway with tidying and we are currently cutting back and mulching the herbaceous borders. We had to wait until the overnight frosts came, and plants started to die back. It is a little sad every autumn to see it fade away and it’s hard to imagine that all that lush growth will be back in abundance next year.

Planting season is upon us and we are currently putting in many new Cherry trees. These are particularly special cultivars that have been supplied to us from a specialist nursery in the UK. They are all varieties of Matsumae Cherry’s from Japan and are some of the best flowering specimens to be found. They will form a new Cherry Walk in years to come. I am looking forward to seeing them develop.

A big job for us this time of the year is leaf collection. We compost a lot of our leaf litter, as it’s a free source of extremely good mulch for plants. Let’s face it the natural ways are usually the best! We do not, however, collect up the leaves from our main Lime tree avenue or in the arboretums. These are pushed back under the trees to provide protective mulch and feed for the snowdrop and bluebell bulbs that live there. December is always a month where we aim to finish up projects etc, but I have learnt to be fairly realistic. Life goes on in January!  Other work for the month includes wind lopping roses to prevent wind rock, roughly digging over vegetable beds, tidying up and disinfecting glasshouses, planting or moving bare root trees and shrubs, sorting out compost bins and spreading on the surface of vegetable beds, tree surgery and general housekeeping.

I’m extremely lucky to be working in such beautiful surroundings, and I frequently get stopped by locals who are visiting the gardens to tell me how thankful they are to be able to access the grounds and gardens in these trying times. There are over 5km of tracks and trails to walk, and plenty of points of interest for all the family. If you have not been to visit, then please do come and see us.

All of us here in the castle and gardens would like to wish everybody a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year. We hope to see more of you in the gardens next year. Do make use of the season passes, as they represent excellent value for money. Adam

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