Growing green: Gardeners blog

Formal Garden at Cragside

The talented team of gardeners at Cragside look after the Formal Garden, Pinetum and Debdon Valley. Each month, Cragside Gardener Holly will take you behind the scenes and show you what's been happening in the gardens at Cragside. She'll also be sharing top tips for the garden at home and highlighting what you can see in gardens near you.

For me, the spring equinox is a time of excitement. The days are getting longer, the weather is (mostly) getting warmer and the flowers are starting to bud up as the garden starts to reawaken. I have also seen the first of the bees appearing too – some honeybees and a bumble bee. All good things after a long cold winter.  

I also think there is a sense of opportunity at this point in the year. We’re a fairly small team of three and we look after the Formal Gardens and Rock Garden around the House. This year, things will look a little different in the Formal Garden as the lockdowns and closures over the past 12 months paused some of the work we were doing and have meant that we haven’t been able to prepare as we would have normally for spring/summer. So this year, we’ll be concentrating on the fundamentals – making sure the grass is kept mown, the plants are looking their best and weeds are kept on top of. The beds will also look a little different this year, but we’re excited to try out new displays. 

So, to keep us busy during this month, amongst many other tasks, we will be cutting back the last of the previous year’s plant growth which has died off. We will start the weeding as they too burst into new life. And the heathers on the Rock Garden will be clipped.  This helps to promote healthy compact growth and prevents the plants from growing too spindly and losing their neat shape.  

Give your lawn its first cut of the year

Top tips for your garden this month...

Give your lawn the first cut of the year. Only cut one third of the length off the top and gradually lower the height of your mower to the desired height over the next few weeks. This stop the grass from going into shock, especially as there will be frosts still to come. It's good to give your mower a service and check that your blades are sharp.

Keep on top of those pesky annual weeds by regularly going around the borders with a hoe and removing an weed seedlings. Dig out any perennial weeds such as dandelions and thistles.

Flowers and wildlife in the gardens this month

Golden daffodils in full bloom


Daffodils are starting to bloom across the gardens and estate.

A bird gathering nesting materials

Birds collecting nesting materials

Cragside is home to lots of different species of birds. Many of them have started building nests in the trees and they can be seen gathering nesting materials.

Bees collecting nectar from flowers


Keep a look out for the arrival of bees at Cragside and in gardens near you. We've spotted bumble bees and honey bees buzzing from flower to flower in the Formal Garden.

A newt peering through blades of grass

Frogs, newts and toads

The fish in the pond have some seasonal neighbours as frogs, newts and ponds make a return to the Ferneries.