Winter in the garden at Scotney Castle
Even though the days are shorter and the temperature has dropped, the garden at Scotney Castle still has plenty to offer. Enjoy the frosty mornings or the misty haze around the Old Castle and take in the picturesque views around the whole garden and estate.
Scotney Castle’s garden is like a landscape painting with drama and romance. From the stunning vista of the Old Castle from the Bastion, to the far reaching views across the estate, each season brings its own highlights with bold shape and strong colour running throughout the year.
Only three owners have looked after the garden at Scotney Castle and each have left their mark. From Edward Hussey III who composed the garden, to his son Major William Clive Hussey and finally his nephew, Christopher Hussey, who left the property to the care of the National Trust. The plunging site is a mixture of sheltered quarry and open lawn, with the ragged silhouette of the Old Castle, fulfilling all components of the picturesque style - drama, variety and rough edges.
The garden in winter
Winter brings misty mornings and frosty trees to give the garden a timeless feel that you can imagine all the generations of the Hussey family gazing at each morning. With less leaves on the trees, the sculptural beauty of the garden is exposed and the textures and colours of the barks stand out.
Head Gardener at Scotney Castle, Paul Micklewright, has seen the garden through several year's worth of seasons now. He says 'what I love about the garden at Scotney Castle in winter is that with the leaves off the trees and shrubs, the garden takes on a new lease of life. People often think that winter can be a dull time in the garden with not much to see, but this is far from the case. If you look up at the trees you can appreciate the structure of the branches a lot better, something that is hidden during the summer months.
The crown of the mature Oaks, Lime, and Beech trees always amaze me with how nature can create such intricate structures that can withstand the high winds and the heavy rain that these trees are exposed to. You can see the wounds on these trees from past events such as the 1987 storm and how these have healed over demonstrating how resilient these trees can be. You can appreciate the different textures and colour of the bark, whether it’s the knobbly and rough like you find on an Oak, or smooth and white that you will find on a Birch tree, they are all different and interesting. Next time you're wandering around the garden, have a look at the different trees, see how they differ in shape, size and texture, and appreciate these wonderful structures, because in a few months these will be hidden again by its leaves.'
Barks and trees
Some of the stand out trees in the garden are the acers. Once their autumn leaves have dropped, the textures of the trunks take the limelight. Originating from central China, the acer griseum is a small spreading deciduous tree with attractive peeling, papery chestnut-brown bark. You can find them tucked away in the River Birch Glade by the West Glade.
Also look out for the Betula utilis Jacqumontii. At the opposite end of the spectrum to the acer, the brilliant white bark on the smooth trunk shines out in winter. Originating from the Himalayas, this tree can grow up to 18m tall. The ones at Scotney can be found dotted around the garden, although there is a clump that looks impressive by the Chinese Bridge.
Low level colour
With their low ground cover offering a burst of colour in the winter months, heathers provide a carpet of colour in pinks, purples and creams. We have a variety of plants around the garden that are hard to beat for introducing a burst of colour. Look out for them growing at the edge of the Quarry where we cleared lots of overgrown Rhododendron last year. The bees love them in the summer months too.
For a real shot of colour, the striking red stems of the cornus stand out in the winter garden. This deciduous upright shrub, orginating from Siberia, northern China and Korea, can be found on the right as you approach the bridges to the Old Castle. Look out for the small, creamy-white flowers in May and June.
" People often think that winter can be a dull time in the garden with not much to see, but this is far from the case. If you look up at the trees you can appreciate the structure of the branches a lot better, something that is hidden during the summer months. "
Early signs of spring
From January onwwards, the tentative shoots of bulbs start to emerge from the grassy borders and bursts of colour appear all around. This autumn, we planted lots of historic varieties of daffodils at the front of the house and in various lawns around the garden to improve our spring interest. Look out for them in the garden this coming spring.
Further afield on the estate
If you venture out onto the estate over winter, you'll enjoy the far reaching views and the silhouettes of mighty trees on the horizon. Follow any of the designated walking routes (you can collect a map from visitor reception), or head off on your own to explore. Look out for some of the cattle or sheep grazing in the fields but make sure you wear your wellies or walking boots as it's likely to be muddy underfoot.