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Bulb Planting

100’s of spring bulbs have been planted. Tulip varieties such as Tulip ‘Red Shine’, ‘Yokohama’(yellow), ‘Merlot’ (pink/red) and ‘Pretty Princess’ (pink), have been planted in the herbaceous borders in Lydia’s Garden and in the large herbaceous borders leading up to the Shell House, with the promise of a wonderful display next Spring in time for the 2016 LitFest. 

As the mild weather continues with no sign of a really cold spell yet, the gardeners are continuing to clear the large herbaceous borders, the beds in the Ornamental Fruit Garden and the vegetable beds in the Kitchen Garden; the soil throughout will receive a generous mulch of our own homemade nutritious compost, which will keep them protected from frost, and from drying out. Unused Vegetable beds will be covered with black polythene to prevent soil loss and to hold moisture in.

Also in the Soft Fruit Area, all fruit bushes have been mulched with the garden compost. This helps to lock nutrients in the soil over winter and keep pests and diseases at bay.

Apples from the numerous orchards have been picked by now; most of the fruit has been labelled and stored in our cool and dry ‘purpose-built’ apple store. Varieties such as ‘Beauty of Bath’, ‘Charles Ross’ and ‘Ardcairn Russet’ cropped well this year.

In the Glasshouses, Plum ‘Lizzie’ provided a bountiful crop this month, so too have the kiwis and figs and there are a few pomegranates to be enjoyed also. Bays are filled with delicious kale, Romanesco, spinach and chard, peppers and salad greens such as; Tatsoi, Mizuna, Mibuna, Green Frills, Red Frills, Turnip Tops. Herbs such as Coriander, Chervil, Dill and Parsley fill a separate bay.

There is ongoing harvesting in the Vegetable Field of, winter cabbage, red cabbage, sprouts, beetroot, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, leeks, parsnips, turnips and spring onions. Over in the Kitchen Garden, there are still lots of leeks, celeriac, beetroot, and herbs, such as chervil and parsley.

Colour displays

Against the wall of the Cookery School, the beautiful yellow winter flowering jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) is in full bloom, and beneath it, Mahonia (Mahonia japonica) is displaying its architectural yellow blooms. In Lydia’s Garden, the fragrant Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ is in flower, against the backdrop of the 150 year old beech hedge.

In the Old Pleasure Garden, the remaining autumnal leaves and the brown peeling tree trunk of the Paper Bark Maple (Acer griseum) provides wonderful winter colour. The birds are enjoying the amazing strawberry-like fruit of the Cornus capitata (Evergreen Dogwood). They match in colour the enormous and exotic looking red seedpods on the magnolia trees. Down near the pond, a Eupatorium Shrub continues to attract all sorts of insects. It’s renowned for attracting butterflies. Here too, the daffodil and Snowflake (Leucojum vernum) foliage is above ground already. 

In the Ornamental Fruit garden, the leaves have been cleared and composted. This is worthwhile work so as to enhance the display of early bulbs; some are already showing their foliage above ground. The birds continue to enjoy the red and yellow fruit on both crab apple trees. Red Rose hips, Myrtle berries and Holly berries are in abundance in the gardens, they are welcome seasonal colour at this time of year.