Hardwick's gardens welcome in the spring
After the foggy mornings and dark evenings of winter, life is returning to the gardens at Hardwick. At every turn you'll see pops of colour as spring arrives. And both the team of gardeners and the garden's inhabitants are busy, busy with important jobs.
In the stumpery, low-growing blue and purple iris quietly thread their way amidst snowdrops clustering around the decaying and mossy oaken tree roots. Croziers of ferns are tempted to unfurl through the leaf mould into the still-cold air, shadowed from spring sunshine by the adjacent stone wall.
The zingy yellow bursts of daffodils, planted by school children on their visits over the years, replace the multi-coloured drooping heads of winter-flowering hellebores, transforming the winter border. You'll also find traditional spring favourites like brightly coloured tulips and, later in the season, the delicately-scented lily of the valley. Nursery-grown bulbs are on sale in the outdoor Plant Shop, so you can re-create this magic at home.
The sounds of nature ring through the garden as early bumblebees look for nectar-laden ivy in the mature sycamore and beech towering overhead.
Getting the veggies ready
At this time of year, seeds and seedlings are planted out for summer growth. The herb garden needs weeding so that traditional garlic, elephant garlic and aliums have room to flourish.It's time to plant leeks and asparugus in the vegetable garden. Cabbages and cauliflower have hearted-up in the nursery greenhouse and are bound for the kitchen in the Great Barn Restaurant.
A good feed
The hybrid musk roses in the borders of the East Court, nestled within yew buttresses, are now soaking-up the rich nutrients from a winter blanket of cow manure. In the autumn they were cut back to avoid breakage by wind and snow; they've now been pruned again to promote their characteristically long stems, which bear repeating fruity, tea-fragranced summer blooms from June until the first frosts.
Freshly cut grass
Mowing is underway; rear rollers smoothing and striping the lush new growth in the East and West Courts. Regular spiking aerates the grass alleys between the Yew and Hornbeam high hedges on the South lawn, with occasional brushing to remove the build-up of dead grass (thatch) and moss.