Spring outdoors at Standen
The welcome arrival of spring at Standen gives visitors plenty to look forward to as the days get longer and the weather improves. Whether you prefer the peacefulness of the woods with the emerging bluebells and birdsong backdrop, or the formal gardens with bulbs appearing and new buds opening, spring is an exciting season to visit as the garden changes almost daily.
What's in the Garden this spring
Spring has sprung at Standen with some of the established trees, such as Camellia Japonica in full bloom around the Quarry Garden as well as winter flowering heathers on the Top Terrace. Hellebores in the Little Orchard offer a colourful display alongside snowflakes, crocus and daffodils. Many of the 10,000 tulip bulbs the garden team and volunteers planted last autumn will soon start to emerge as we eagerly await their colourful displays for the Standen Tulip Festival from mid-April to mid-May.
Spring is heralded by the emergence of new leaves. Acers are well-known for their autumnal displays but they also produce wonderful colour in the spring too. The most spectacular of these is Acer corralinum with its salmon pink brilliance which can be seen on the Croquet Lawn Border.
On the Acer Bed the vibrant purple of Acer palmatum var dissectum atropurpureum competes with the bright bronze red of its neighbour Acer palmatum var dissectum ornatum. Around the rest of the garden fresh greens from numerous other palmatum acers shine in the sun. Look out for them especially on the Sloping Lawn and Top Path.
All around the garden, shrubs are flowering in the warm spring temperatures. On the Lavender Lawn the Wisteria sinensis clothes the wall. Early flowering Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ and Rosa xanthina ‘Canary Bird’ brighten up the House Terrace with their yellow blooms.
Take a walk to see the stunning views from the Top Terrace summer house which is draped in Wisteria floribunda ‘Multijuga’ and pass camellias, Enkianthus campanulatus and Exochorda x macrantha all in bloom. Along the Farm Track, Pieris taiwanensis has tall clusters of urn-shaped white flowers.
Original plants from Margaret Beale’s collection can be seen all around the garden at Standen. Rhododendron Dell has some mature examples of Rhododendron arboreum and loderi cultivars.
Shades of pinks, purples, reds and whites dazzle down the farm track and around the Croquet Lawn summerhouse. Look out for the exquisite Rhododendron ‘Sappho’ with its purple blotched throated, white blooms. On the drive the electric blue of Rhododendron augustinii augustinii sings in front of the golden sandstone.
This time of year the Quarry Garden really is a special place as it comes alive. Clusters of white snowflakes, Leucojum vernum and yellow Iris reticulata begin flowering in late February. These are joined in March by miniature narcissi and early tulips. Then come drifts of white muscari and wood anemones. Masses of bluebells appear in April and early May.
The Rhododendron lutea covers the slopes with its yellow delicate funnel shaped blooms and fill the air with a beautiful fragrance. April sees the ferns begin to uncurl includine the Royal Fern, Osmunda regalis which are all descendants from original plants introduced by Margaret Beale.
In spring the Sloping Lawn and Little Orchard have a succession of flowering jewels amongst the grass. Early narcissi are followed by camassias, cowslips, fritillaries and species tulips. The plant variety continues with a profusion of native flowers. Keeping the grass in check and enabling this diversity is the semi-parasitic annual, yellow rattle, Rhinanthus minor which flowers in May.
In the Kitchen Garden
Throughout spring the Kitchen Garden also starts to become productive with rhubarb being harvested, asparagus shooting up and blossom appearing on the apple and pear trees. Potatoes, parsnips and carrots will be sown this month and seeds will be planted in the green house ready for potting on and planting out after the last of the frosts around May.