March- An ode to the unexplored

Chris Flynn, Head Gardener Chris Flynn Head Gardener
Bluebells in the arboretum at Dyffryn Gardens

The sun is shining and the birds are singing, with the arboretum spanning 22 acres it’s easy to find a quiet space or relatively unexplored path among the trees, even on a busy day it’s not hard to lose yourself.

Walking through the arboretum doing post high winds safety checks, the sun was indeed shining and a whole host of different birds including wrens, nuthatches, blackbirds, blue tits and pheasants were bustling around singing (I use the term loosely for pheasants) as they went. It’s a stunning place to be, with freedom to wander, just let yourself drink it all in. The song, the scent, the vibrant, fresh green of the very earliest buds just starting to break. At this time of year the Rhododendron falconeri is in full flower, camellias laden with red, pink and white blooms line hidden avenues and more and more daffodils are coming into flower each day. There are a surprising number of highly scented daffs in the arboretum so well worth getting up close for a sniff. Though do always check for early bees, safety first and all that.

From unexplored pathways to a wonderful hidden world; the produce of this hidden kingdom can be seen everywhere in the garden, from the planted beds to the pot displays and possibly even in your own gardens via the shop. This magical place that exists beyond the gates at the north end of the site is of course our nursery. Not reliant on magic at all, but driven by hard work and nth degree organisation, the nursery is filled with pots and specimen plants just waiting for their starring moment in the displays around the site. New material is being grown on for the glasshouse, herbaceous borders, annual bedding displays and more. The polytunnels are filled with plants from all over the world, benches covered with pelargoniums, chilli seedlings, orchids, begonias and sweet peas. The bowls for the perpetually popular cacti and succulent border are currently being composed indoors, whilst vast numbers of tulips are racing for the light after their winter slumber. It is the hope that one day we can share a little more of what goes on behind the scenes, as there is so much to a garden like this that happens almost without anyone ever knowing.

One of the big highlights that come from the nursery team each year has to be the bulb displays in the glasshouse. Pots filled to the brim with weird and wonderful crocus, daffodils and tulips. My absolute favourite of these are the tiny Iris reticulata. Perfect miniatures of their summer cousins, these stunning, dainty bulbs come in a variety of shades of purple, blue and white.

In perfect order come rain or shine, these pot displays seem to change daily, so do make sure to squeeze in a visit next time you’re passing. The birds might be singing too if you’re lucky.

Chris Flynn

Head Gardener, Dyffryn Gardens