On Saturday 4th March the Castle reopens to the public – considerably earlier than in previous years. In celebration of this event we thought you might like to learn a little about what has been going on in the Gardens and Grounds over the Winter months while the rest of us have been desperately trying to keep out of the wind and rain (and avoiding the chaos caused by Doris), although Gardener Supervisor Jackie does assure us that we had a mild, dry Fall – too long ago to remember!
You may have noticed that, despite this latest spell of rain, things in the borders have definitely shifted into Spring mode, with many of the herbaceous perennials already daring to show their green. This bravery is in part spurred on by the two truck-loads (18 tonnes) of compost that Jackie and her team have spread over the borders during the Winter.
Jackie, Tom, Fiona and George have also between them planted 3,000 bulbs, which should put on a fantastic display of colour soon. You probably will have also seen the Gardening team hard at work scarifying, pruning, dividing and generally renovating all round. This will have a huge visual impact as the plants are rejuvenated and reinvigorated, plus will provide sale items for the plant stall. No garden has been left untouched, with the Azalea, Elizabethan, Shakespeare, Butterfly and Folly gardens all undergoing some form of renovation. The Herb garden is next on the team’s hit list.
In the Grounds, Guy, Adam and Kallum have been keeping warm by renewing the chestnut fencing, using in part chestnut coppiced from the estate. Over the coming year they will be tackling the invasive and potentially disease-spreading Rhododendron ponticum, eradicating it from the estate. So much of the clearing work that the team has undertaken has opened up new vistas not seen for many years. For our younger visitors (and maybe the not so young too!) the Estate team will be devising a tree trail and an ‘I spy’ trail. We are sure they would welcome all who wish to trial the trails!
So, if you enjoy fresh air, tranquillity and a chance to escape your office once in a while, the fantastic gardens and grounds are there for you. And if you enjoy them, do spread the word – encourage your family and friends to visit too! As a member of staff or faculty you can bring up to four family members or friends into the gardens free of charge. You will also be able to take advantage of our complimentary tickets for friends and family, which means they can enjoy the Gardens and Grounds even when you are unable to be with them. And all we ask in return, is that you take with you on your travels a handful of our leaflets and leave them wherever they are likely to encourage others to visit the Castle!
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