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2 JAN

The end of another year

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December flew by in the usual blur of Christmas madness and I find myself reflecting on the past year’s events. 2018 was a challenge here in the gardens. We faced extremes of weather, which I’m starting to think will become the norm rather than infrequent. This created a lot of problems in the grounds and gardens and I believe we managed extremely well under difficult conditions. We have a great team here, and we can be proud of how the gardens have performed this year.

With the new year comes new arrivals. The snowdrops on the front avenue are starting to emerge 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. The 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.

Jobs for January include planting quite a lot of trees. We are replacing some of the casualties of last year’s storms with some larger semi-mature trees to fill gaps in sensitive areas such as the front avenue. In other areas around the arboretums we are planting smaller specimens which will grow on at their own pace. We are also planting bare root hedging and fruit as well. 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. We also recently checked up on our slow fermenting cider batch and it’s looking good. This is the experimental batch that will help us to decide whether to commit to a larger scale production in the future so fingers crossed.

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. 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. Adam

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