Exciting time in garden

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WITH the arrival of April on Friday spring is truly here. This is such an exciting time for the castle garden team as we open the castle gates on April 1 and reveal all the vibrant colours that spring has to offer.

Our daffodils and primroses throughout the castle landscape are in full bloom due to the wonderful weather we’re having,

In the Collector Earl’s Garden there’s now an arresting green oasis of Trachycarpus Fortuni palms (native to central China and Burma), recently planted within our grass labyrinth, giving it a subtropical feel even in springtime, one can be fooled into believing that summer is here, but from a gardening point of view it would be great to have some rain!

Within the walled gardens we planted stunning Crown imperial’s or Kaiser’s Crown (Fritillaria imperialis) bulbs which are now in flower. These are appropriately named as they look both regal and dramatic, with massive orange heads, raised far above a sea of green foliage on stout stems. They are one of the earliest plants to be cultivated and recorded in The British Herbal of 1769 by John Edwards. They would have been brought back from the east, anywhere between Turkey and foothills of the Himalayas.

The original variety is usually orange-red. There are various colours found in cultivars, ranging from nearly a true scarlet through oranges to yellow and the more unusual Fritillia persica with its purple black conical flowers, now currently flowering in the English borders.

In the organic kitchen garden Izzy McKinley, our kitchen garden horticulturalist, has been busy sowing more vegetables for the castle. This is a good time to look out for the unwelcome pests that come out when the weather warms up, being an organic garden we control these through a number of ways, our companion planting methods work well, whereby planting various herbs and flowers alongside our vegetables helps to deter the unwanted insects.

Here is a helpful guide of plants to help rid you of unwanted pests:

Basil -repels flies and mosquitoes.

Catnip -deters flea beetle.

Dill - deters black bean beetles.

Garlic - deters Japanese beetle.

Horseradish - deters potato bugs and phytopthora

Marigold - the workhorse of pest deterrents. Discourages Mexican bean beetles, nematodes and others.

Mint - deters white cabbage moth, ants.

Nasturtium - deters aphids, squash bugs and striped pumpkin beetles.

Pot Marigold - deters asparagus beetle, Manduca quinquemaculata (tomato horn worm), and general garden pests.

Peppermint -repels the white cabbage butterfly.

Rosemary - deters cabbage moth, bean beetles and carrot fly.

Sage - deters cabbage moth and carrot fly.

Southernwood - deters cabbage moth.

Summer Savory - deters bean beetles.

Tansy - deters flying insects, Japanese beetles, striped cucumber beetle, squash bugs and ants.

Thyme - deters cabbage worm.

Wormwood - deters animals from garden – except for my Patterdale Terrier!

A few tips from the castle garden team:

Feed your lawns.

It is a good time to plant and divide your perennials, if you have any additional divisions give them to a friend.

Plant pot grown evergreens.

Feed roses, herbaceous borders, hedges, trees and shrubs with a good general purpose organic fertilizer. Roses love bone meal – as do most plants!

New Season Entry Ticket

The Castle has introduced a New Season Entry Ticket: the ticket costs £30 for one adult or £50 for two adults and gives unlimited entry into the Castle Gardens, Fitzalan Chapel, Restaurant, Coffee and Castle Shop (valid from April 1 until October 30 2011) Tuesday – Sunday inclusive, Bank Holiday Mondays and August Mondays (not valid during Joust week July 27 – August 1). For those garden enthusiasts this is a wonderful opportunity to see the gardens through the spring, summer and autumn months.

For further information visit our website at www.arundelcastle.org