Spring is bursting through in the garden
Spring has arrived in the Hardwick garden. 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 sounds of nature rings through the garden, as early bumblebees look for nectar-laden ivy in the mature sycamore and beech towering over head. Owls have been hooting in late afternoon for several weeks from the same bare perches and lambs call out in the distant landscaped fields, which surround the garden walls.
The winter border transforms in spring, as uplifting daffodils overtake multi-coloured drooping heads of winter-flowering Hellebores. Similarly, they fill the wild border, planted there by many primary schools visitors over the years. Nursery grown bulbs are on sale in the Outdoor Plant Shop, for visitors to re-create this magic at home.
Elephant garlic is a new addition to the vegetable plot; it’s quite unlike the traditional variety emerging in the Herb Garden alongside its various cousins of allium row. Cabbages and cauliflower have hearted-up in the nursery greenhouse - protected from frosts and pests and are bound for the kitchen in the Great Barn Restaurant.
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. They were cut back in the autumn to avoid breakage by wind and snow and have now been pruned again to promote their characteristically long stems, which bear repeating fruity, tea-fragranced blooms from June until the first frosts.
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.