The unfurling spring garden
After the pale days of winter, it’s a relief to welcome the longer days of spring, with blue skies and groups of brightly coloured flowers blooming everywhere you look. The sense of a hibernating garden is gradually diminishing as more foliage emerges and bare branches are laden with buds, the grass is lush, green and getting long and birdsong floats through the air.
As soon as you arrive you’ll be greeted by the sight of sunny yellow daffodils densely planted throughout the apple orchards, along the avenue and in the garden. The delights continue as you wander through, with wallflowers in jewel bright colours massed along the borders and violas and pansies turn their jolly faces towards the sun. Primroses, snowdrops, crocuses, tulips, scillas, aconites, quince blossom and the giant fritillaria imperialis are just a few of the many plants that will be coming in to flower during March and April.
Each area of the garden is carefully tended by our skilled team of staff and volunteers, and with restoration and conservation always paramount there are plenty of interesting projects going on. The rose bushes in the rose and iris garden were over twenty years old and have recently been replanted with fresh stock. To minimise the possibility of rose replant virus taking hold, the team have used the box planting method, which has been shown to be an effective precaution. This will mean that the roses in this part of the garden will be taking an understudy role when June comes.
Inspired by the notion of the medieval model farm estate and seeking to be self-sufficient to provide his household with fresh home grown produce, Colonel Lyle developed the walled kitchen garden in the 1920s. The earth is enriched with organic matter every year, as this is a hard working garden, having been in constant production since its creation.
March and April are an exciting and busy time, the soil has been tilled and prepared ready for the season’s crops to be planted, crops such as onion sets, potatoes, parsnips, carrots and turnips. The garden team are also sowing seeds for broad beans, brassicas and tomatoes in the green house, to be planted out later. This is the best time for the dark green leaves and bright pink stems of the rhubarb plants, which almost fill a whole border. The rhubarb is harvested daily for the restaurant and surplus, when available, is sold through the shop.
As well as being a practical working space, the kitchen garden is aesthetically pleasing and its design owes a huge influence to the arts and crafts movement. Decorative carvings appear on the stone and woodwork and glorious statues draw the eye.
In the surrounding fields sheep and lambs graze and the birds are noticeably busy gathering twigs and moss to make nests ready for their young. The swallows, swifts and house martins must now be on their epic journey, making their way to us as they do every year. It’s a wonderful time full of anticipation, renewal and hope.
" Infinite numbers, delicacies, smells with hues on hue expression cannot paint, the breath of nature and her endless bloom. "