Late spring in the garden at Croft Castle

The holiday cottage in late-spring at Croft Castle in Herefordshire

As the days get slightly longer and warmer, our gardener-in-charge, Jonathan Kellett, looks forward to late-spring in the garden.

Although everything seems really late in the garden this spring, it may be that due to the long cold, snowy winter, normal factory settings have been restored. We have been so used to mild springs over the last five years or so that we have got used to plants flowering early and we have come to expect it. A proper cold winter like we have experienced should be beneficial in the long run in getting rid of a few nasty bugs and viruses.

Late spring blooms at Croft Castle
The gardens at Croft Castle in full bloom
Late spring blooms at Croft Castle

There are signs of life in the garden; buds are swelling, especially on some of our old apple trees such as Downton Pippin and Laxton’s Superb. Spring bulbs such as Scilla and Puschkinia are flowering along with some Narcissi and a few hardy perennials are sticking their heads over the parapet.

" The sublime Cherokee Purple...wouldn’t win any prizes for its looks but has the most wonderful flavour. In my humble opinion it is the tastiest of all the tomatoes. "
- Jonathan Kellett

We are busy at the moment with a variety of jobs – repairing damaged turf, pruning roses, and sowing seeds in our home made propagating bed in the glasshouse. We have sown some interesting, old tomato varieties again this year such as Halliday’s Mortgage Lifter and the sublime Cherokee Purple which wouldn’t win any prizes for its looks but has the most wonderful flavour. In my humble opinion it is the tastiest of all the tomatoes.

The garden is lovingly managed by two gardeners and a team of volunteers
The garden team pose for a photo at Croft Castle and Parkland in Herefordshire
The garden is lovingly managed by two gardeners and a team of volunteers

The wildlife in the garden is getting slowly more active. The frogs are croaking away in the pond, especially on sunny days and there is a fair amount of spawn already. Newts have been seen and the first bumblebees and one or two peacock butterflies have been recorded. No sign of any incoming migrant birds as yet – we haven’t heard any chiff-chaffs and definitely no swallows or martins. I wouldn’t really blame them if they stayed in Africa this year and if the weather doesn’t improve I might join them.

Busy bees at work in the Walled Garden at Croft
Bees at work in the shurbs at Croft Castle and Parkland in Herefordshire
Busy bees at work in the Walled Garden at Croft