Daffodils provide a welcome as castle opens for season

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IT WAS wonderful to open the castle gates for Easter to record numbers of visitors. On arrival they were welcomed by thousands of daffodils in swathes throughout the landscape, including February Gold, which is normally only in flower before opening, but as this year has been so cold they are in full bloom with lots more to come!

The garden team worked frantically to get the gardens and grounds ready for the Easter Weekend by completing numerous new exciting projects. This included changing the herbaceous borders, in the walled gardens, mainly by removing formal Buxus hedging (Box) to create natural flowing borders. These have been re-planted with Delphiniums, Lupins, Fox Gloves, Roses, Nepta, Tulips, perennial Geraniums and a stunning collection of Alliums to name but a few!

Last year a small ‘Stumpery’ was created in a sheltered area of the walled gardens and as this proved so popular we have developed it beyond belief! We were thankful to the estate foresters, who searched out the most wonderful and exciting old weathered stumps, more striking and larger than before. With Her Grace, I strategically placed the stumps with the help of Tim and George in an artist way to give the whole area a unique look and feel. Nathan and I have just planted it up with a wide range of woodland plants such as Hellebores, Euphorbia’s, Hostas, Digitallis, Primula veris, Primula vulgaris, Pulmonarias and English Bluebells. Unusual Ferns will be planted up in May to complete the overall effect; we have had some fantastic comments already.

In the organic Kitchen Garden Izzy is getting ready to plant out our wide range of Brassicas when the weather warms up. In the Tropical House it is exciting to see the Hibiscus in flower, which reminds me so much of my time working in the Bermuda Botanical Gardens where we had a large collection, Whilst here in the Vine House it is lovely to see the Peaches beginning to form.

A few tips from the castle garden team:

As the weather has been cold and dry, it’s important that you water newly planted shrubs and trees.

Continue to divide your perennials and stake tall growing ones, ideally with pea sticks.

Plant your summer flowering bulbs before the end of the month.

Prepare trenches for Runner Beans.

Watch out for snail and slugs!

Let’s hope the weather warms up!

Happy Gardening!

The Castle is open to visitors until 3 November 2013, Tuesday to Sunday. Tickets for the gardens and grounds start from £8. Further information on Arundel Castle and its 2013 event calendar can be found at www.arudelcastle.org.

Martin Duncan - Arundel Castle Head Gardener