Winter in the garden and grounds

Volunteers changing over the bedding plants

Although it’s winter, there's still plenty going on in our outdoor spaces and lots happening behind the scenes.

Winter is a great time to visit and see our outdoor spaces from a different perspective. With bare leaves, fewer flowering plants and a quieter garden, you're able to appreciate the special effect of winter's touch. From the clean crisp lines of the formal 18th century garden and topiary, to the sharply cut bedding shapes and the distant countryside views.

Our garden and grounds provide plenty of space to escape the busy hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas, or whatever else you need a break from. Wrap up warm and enjoy a a little calm in the fresh air.

Fancy more than just a gentle stroll? Why not stretch your legs with one of our walks in the wider grounds and local area, picking up instructions from visitor reception or online.
 

Get out and burn off some energy with the family
A family playing on the lawn

For the family

For younger visitors collect a spotting sheet from Visitor Reception and see how many of the items you can spy as you explore the gardens. Most people can’t find the chickens, can you?

In the corner of the paddock you'll find a little spinney. It has bug hotels made of recycled materials for our insect friends to hide in. Why not see what you can find?

From 2 December to 5 January have fun on the Silver Bells Trail. For just £2 per trail, pick up a sheet in reception, find the musical items around the paddock, answer the questions and return to reception to collect a prize and sticker.

There is plenty to prepare for the new year
A volunteer preparing the vegetable garden for the new season

Behind the scenes

This is one of the busiest times for our gardening team. They're stripping out old bedding and replacing it with planting for the coming year, digging and planting the vegetable patch, laying hedges, pruning trees and plenty more besides. 

The winter bedding going into 2018 will create beautiful colouring of green, purples, pinks and whites, to coincide with our national theme of women and suffrage, celebrating 100 years since women first gained the vote in the UK. The beds will include bellis and siberian wallflowers coming into bloom early next year, although a little colour may appear in December.  

At this time of year the trees need a bit of care. The garden team will be pruning fruit trees, doing plenty of maintenance in the parkland, removing tree guards from younger trees who are now big and healthy and laying hedges where needed.

And very importantly, it’s time to plant and sow the vegetables ready for next year. Onions, shallots, beans and plenty more have already been sown and are overwintering in the soil. Our vegetable patch may look bare but it's ready and prepared to spring into life soon.

A nuthatch in the garden
A Nuthatch at Canons Ashby

Looking after our wildlife

As part of looking after the wildlife at Canons Ashby, apples and pears are left on trees, or on the ground. This fruit provides food for lots of creatures in the coldest months, particularly birds like fieldfares or waxwings.

Our team also check the nest boxes in the garden and parkland. If needed the boxes are given a clean and prepared for future lodgers. This allows us to monitor which boxes are being used, and sometimes get a bit more information about what types of birds are living here.

Whilst exploring the garden and grounds you may find habitat piles or bug hotels in certain places, where leaves, wood and other garden debris has been collected and left in a safe place. This provides great protection for creatures like hedgehogs, small mammals and insect life in the cold winter months.