Bulbs popping up as the seasons change

Getting ready for spring.
Getting ready for spring.

March is a hectic but exciting month for the castle garden team, as each time you look at different areas of the gardens and landscape it’s bursting into life.

Spring bulbs are popping up everywhere, lawns beginning to grow and within our borders our herbaceous perennials are showing signs of growth.

Strangely enough our “February Gold” narcissi are only just beginning to flower in March, must have been the recent cold snap!

The narcissi (daffodil) is always associated with the Welsh for St David’s Day (1st March) and the symbol for Marie Currie Cancer Care, but recently I learnt that daffodils have become highly significant in aiding scientists to produce a compound useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s, the disease that causes memory loss.

The plants were grown under stressed conditions at altitude, around 1,400 feet on the slopes of the Black Mountains in Wales; this allows the plants to produce more of the plant alkaloid Galanthamine, which in turn is used in the treatment of Alzheimers.

A major breakthrough for the Welsh scientist Professor Walker, whose trials have proven a great success and will ultimately help those suffering with memory loss and the farmers to diversify from sheep farming.

Here in the gardens we have been making some exciting changes of our own; we are planting a number of new roses throughout the gardens.

Holes have been dug out, soil prepared ready for the arrival of bare rooted roses this week. Some of the roses we will be planting are named after famous gardeners such as Geoff Hamilton, Alan Titchmarsh, Graham Thomas and Gertrude Jekyll.

The climbing roses chosen are The Gertrude Jekyll rose, one of England’s favourite, has very pretty pink petals and a wonderful old rose scent, it will go very well alongside The Generous Gardener with its pale white to pink petals and musk/myrrh fragrance and St Swithun, a very beautiful large fragrant pink rose which does very well in most gardens.

A new rose hedge will lead visitors into the Rose Garden, we have chosen to use Harlow Carr roses, these are ideal for creating a shorter, bushier rose hedge with perfectly formed pure rose pink rosettes when in flower.

In our organic kitchen garden the vegetable beds and fruit trees are all being mulched, Izzy has been busy planting purple asparagus and our extra early potatoes - Swift and Rocket, as well as sowing and pricking out vast quantities of seeds and seedlings with one of our volunteers Sue.

The team have also been potting on the cuttings taken in the autumn which will be planted in the late spring.

Tips from the castle garden team:

Don’t manure the area you’re going to sow your carrots, it is best to leave this area for at least a year before sowing carrots.

Plants with new growth may require new supports/stakes.

Prune back any shrubs with colourful winter stems.

Prune bush and shrub roses.

Sow hardy annuals in their flowering positions.

Continue to mulch bare soil.

Happy Gardening!

The Castle will be open to visitors from 29 March to 3 November 2013, Tuesday to Sunday.

Tickets for the gardens and grounds start from £8. Further information on Arundel Castle and its 2013 even calendar can be found at www.arudelcastle.org

Martin Duncan

Head gardener Arundel Castle