The garden in April

Here's a note from Karl, Killerton's Head Gardener, about the garden in April.

Hello everyone,

A cold and wet March has put many shrubs behind their normal cycle and damaged others with hard frosts and snow. Spring bulbs have taken a battering this year but are starting to come into their own. Many daffodils are still to open as are the bluebells, camassias, anemones and fritillaries. An array of native wildflowers will soon start to emerge. A cloak of verdant new growth will soon cover the garden as leaf buds burst and early flowering shrubs such as Rhododendron and Magnolia start to present their magnificent floral displays.

Although work has started on cutting back herbaceous borders, the recent wet weather means that the team is behind schedule. However, cold weather has meant that new growth has been slow to emerge. The new growth that has emerged has been protected from the frost and snow by last year's growth that hadn't been cut back.

Cutting back the herbaceous border
Gardeners in the borders
Cutting back the herbaceous border

The team have carried out other tasks such as removing the stumps of the old hedge that flanked the eastern boundary of the Chapel. Mattocks and a winch were used to get over 20 stumps out the ground. An area like this can have remedial work carried out on the soil later in the year to undo the damage caused from working on it in wet conditions.

Removing old stumps
Gardener digging
Removing old stumps

Elsewhere around the garden and estate

Gravel paths look smart and offer a firm footing for people to explore the garden year round, whatever the weather. But, as anyone with a gravel drive will know, gravel moves. Vehicles, feet, rain, all cause movement. The only way to get it back to how it ought to be is by raking. The team invest a good amount of time in maintaining the path network at Killerton. They carefully use leaf-blowers to remove gravel from drainage gullies and to remove debris from paths.

Raking the gravel over
Gardener on the front turning circle
Raking the gravel over

This helps control the spread of any unwanted pests on peoples' footwear. On top of this, all gravel paths in the Garden and Chapel Ground are raked once a month; some areas once a week. This task helps to improve presentation of the garden but also helps to keep the structure of the path intact by preventing wear on the sub-structure. It is also an effective way of controlling weed growth by disrupting germinating seeds.

In March, the team carried on clearing sections of old windbreak. The most notable area is behind the memorial cross where yew (Taxus bacata), hawthorn (Cratagus monogyna) and limes (Tillia) were thinned to improve airflow and also to open up viewlines. The view through to the Cross from Rustic Bridge is particularly tantalising and reflects those found in historical pictures. Dogwoods and willow at Budlake have also been stool pruned.

Thinning to improve the garden
Gardeners working
Thinning to improve the garden

We hope you enjoy your visit, and if you have any questions for the team please do stop us and ask.

Karl, Head Gardener