Girl guides plant more than 1,600 tulip bulbs at castle

Girl Guides at Arundel Castle with Martin Duncan.
Girl Guides at Arundel Castle with Martin Duncan.

The garden team at Arundel Castle are in full swing planting 33,000 more bulbs and are now half way there – phew!

This year we have had some enthusiastic and welcomed help from the local Girl Guides, aged 13+ they spent a day and night at Arundel Castle as part of their Baden Powell Adventure, the final part for them to work towards achieving a Baden Powell Award. The Award consists of 5 sections which includes Healthy lifestyles, Global awareness, and celebrating diversity and requires the girls to plan and carry out many activities in their Guide units and community.

Gillian Almond, West Sussex Guide Advisor, said: “The Castle made a fantastic location for their final section, which the girls will remember for years to come”.

It was really great to see the Girl Guides work so hard at planting over 1,600 of our tulip bulbs in the huge terracotta pots within the Collector Earl’s Garden, I set this task knowing that they will learn how to plant bulbs, find out a little about gardening and that they would work together to achieve their goals as Girl Guides, who knows this may even inspire some of them into the field of horticulture! They will be able to return in spring to see what they have achieved, when the tulips will be in full bloom, we are very grateful for their enthusiasm and help!

Each pot was planted up using a combination of 40 x Purple Flags Tulips, which reach a height of 40cm, 40 x Lilac Time, a great favourite which reach 55cm tall and for the centre piece of the pots they planted 3 Fritillaria Imperialis – Aurora which have large orange bell-like flower heads and will reach a height of 90 cm. It is always worth using combinations of bulbs to give structure height and interest to pots. These will flower; weather permitting, from mid- April well into May.

Using a turf cutter the castle garden team have rolled up the turf and scattered 10,000 fritillaria Meleagris - Snakeheads (mixed) these have been planted in the shady area leading into The Collector Earl’s Garden and will give a lovely natural welcome to our visitors next spring.

Within the walled garden we have filled the formal parterre beds with 3,000 Lily Flowered mixed tulips; which will give a riot of colour in time for the Tulip Extravaganza next spring.

A few tips from the castle garden team:

l This can be a good time to plant garlic; alternatively you can leave it until spring.

l Remove fallen leaves on your lawn to avoid risk of fungal disease and bare patches on your grass.

l Leaf mould or mulch is a good way of protecting slightly tender plants if spread lightly over the top during winter.

l Continue to plant winter and spring bedding, before the frost arrives!

This year has flown by, I can hardly believe we are about to close the castle gates on Sunday 4th November, but not without two key events, Normans in the Castle Keep, today 31st October and 1st November.

This shows the Castle during the reign of King Stephen – Norman Knights, weapons, combat and crafts, with the Raven Tor Living History Group, a must to entertain the children at half term!

And the annual Arundel Fair Trade and Ethical Fair, 25th November (10am to 4.30pm), with around 50 stalls it should help you to find the more unusual Christmas presents, for more information about the event, contact The Arundel Fair Trade Group via Pip Young on 07761 564154.

For full details on Arundel Castle visit

Although the gardens will be closed I will continue to write about what the castle garden team are doing throughout the winter months and look forward to our opening in spring 2013.

Martin Duncan - Arundel Castle Head Gardener