Rain helps castle gardens to flourish

Vinery at Arundel Castle
Vinery at Arundel Castle

It has been great to get some long awaited rain for the castle gardens, especially with the hosepipe ban in effect.

One of the busiest areas of the gardens is this organic kitchen garden as Izzy McKinley, with the help of the garden team, are planting out the potatoes, onion sets, broad beans, peas, Brussels sprouts etc., while the carrots and parsnips have been direct sown.

The chilies in the Tropical House have been potted on ready for a stunning display later in the season.

Some of our star plants out at the moment are the magnificent collection of Tulips (15,000), Euphorbia Wulfenii, Camassia cusickii and Fritillaria meleagris – The Snakeshead fritillary, these are naturalised in the grass.

If you want to shelter from the April showers our stunning restored iron-framed Victorian Greenhouse is the place to be, you may even find Izzy and Kate pruning back the grape vines, we grow Buckland Sweetwater, Lady Downe’s, Black Hamburg and Muscat of Alexandra.

The greenhouses were designed by Jones & Clark, later Clark & Hope of Birmingham (who also supplied greenhouses to Windsor in 1849, Royal Gardens at Osborne and Frogmore).

The Vinery is a traditional lean-to design, built in 1854; the frame being made of wrought iron and most of the original glass panes remain, it underwent restoration in 1998.

The vines and peaches are the same varieties as those originally grown; we know this from looking in the Victorian garden accounts records stored in the Arundel Castle archives.

Grape vines were introduced to Great Britain by the Romans and most vineyards existed right through to the middle ages, principally grown within monasteries for wine production.

After the dissolution of the monasteries vineyards ceased to exist on a commercial scale.

But over the last 40 years in Britain they have become a very popular crop, and here in the south we have some of the most successful vineyards, winning many worldwide wine awards.

The success in this region is down to the excellent soil conditions, climate and careful attention that goes into wine production by vineyards, such as Nytimber and Nutbourne at Pulborough, Highdown at Ferring and Upperton near Petworth all producing excellent sparkling wines that rival our neighbors across the channel, interestingly this is partly due to the same geographical landscape originating from before the English Channel was formed, millions of years ago and when we were all still part of the one continent!

A few tips from the castle garden team:

Try to capture the rainwater as much as possible

Mow your lawns regularly, when it’s dry!

Sow hardy annuals outside

Last chance to directly sow your sweet peas

Plant out summer flowering bulbs

Prune your Forsythias and Chaenomeles after flowering

Happy Gardening!

For full ticket; booking and garden tour details visit our castle website at www.arundelcastle.org.uk

Martin Duncan - Arundel Castle head gardener