March 2019 at Colby Woodland Garden

A view of the cherry plum

Discover what’s been happening at Colby Woodland Garden this March as gardener Christine Bevan shares an insight into the work in the walled garden.

Year-round interest

The walled garden dates back over 200 years. Initially it was believed to have been a fruit and vegetable garden serving Colby Lodge for many years and then some time later it was turned into an ornamental garden.

The design you see today was created in 1986 by the then occupiers of Colby Lodge. It’s a well-designed garden with trees, shrubs and perennials in bloom throughout most of the year, thereby ensuring something of interest during most months. As one plant starts to go past its best, another takes your eye as it comes into flower!

Spring sights

The plants starting our season off are our large bed of helleborus (hellebore), with all of the leaves being cut completely off after our Christmas break, this allows the flowers to be seen and plenty of room for the fresh new leaf growth in mid spring. 

It’s then the turn of the Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’ (cherry plum), with our eight beds of chionodoxa (glory of the snow) bursting through and just waiting to take centre stage alongside our magnificent Magnolia soulangiana (which this year is at least three weeks early).


This month we have cut off last year’s flower heads of the hydrangeas back to the two healthiest buds. We also take a third of the oldest growth back to the ground. This allows for open plants, with plenty of room for new growth.

With the fresh new growth of perennials coming through, we have been splitting our later flowering plants like Chelone lyonie ‘Hot Lips’ (Turtlehead) and Astilbes. We usually try to split our perennials approximately once every three to five years. This stops them getting congested and keeps them producing a good number of flowers. Our propagated plants are either planted on the Colby Estate or sold to our customers.

We have also been feeding and cutting our hardy fuchsias to their base, these are in the same eight beds which our chionodoxa are in, so by cutting them back at this time, it tidies the bed up ready for the starry blue flowers to shine.

April is set to be another busy month with lots more propagating to do, from seeds which we have gathered in the autumn to soft wood cuttings. Come in and enjoy.

Cutting back and feeding our hardy fuchsias
A gardener working in the walled garden
Cutting back and feeding our hardy fuchsias