Gearing up for busy season

It’s amazing that we’re only two days from opening the castle gates to our visitors!

It’s been a busy winter of planning, developing and redesigning areas of the garden for everyone to enjoy and the castle garden team are looking forward to showing off our tulip extravaganza.

We planted over 33,000 types of bulbs last autumn and with the mild winter they are already beginning to show with tulips actually flowering, which is even earlier than last years!

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Tulips came to Europe from Turkey and were prized by the sultans, especially Suleyman the Magnificent, who had tulips embroidered on his robes and featured as part of his emblem. It was no coincidence that his head gardener was also the executioner-in-chief!

By the 18th century they were literally worth their weight in gold, being traded as a high earning commodity in the inns of Holland.

Nowadays we’re spoilt for choice with all sorts of shapes, colours and varieties at reasonable prices.

In the organic kitchen garden Issy McKinley, our kitchen garden horticulturalist, has been busy with some of our volunteers (Susan, Ann and Alex) who have been very helpful with pricking out and potting on a wide range of plants, they’re really appreciated.

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Stuart Whitson and Nathan Tredwell have sown our annual wildflower garden; this was a very popular part of the walled garden with all our visitors last year, including the bumble bees and butterflies, this year we have chosen lovely soft pastel shades that will complement the newly designed stumpery, which is being planted up with a wide range of hardy ferns, including some stunning Dicksonia antarctica (Tasmanian tree ferns) along with Helleborus and Euphorbia, which will give a luscious green effect to this sheltered part of the garden.

The living willow arch is festooned with yellow catkins whilst our striking fritillaria Imperialis (Crown Imperials) have clusters of bell-like flowers on their regal tall stems.

The lawns are being mowed into shape by Stuart Scutt and Chris Barrett, especially the grass labyrinth whilst Kate Pheasant has been busy mulching and planting up the magnificent Collector Earl’s Garden.

A few tips from the castle garden team:

Continue to mulch your beds, especially with the hosepipe ban coming into effect.

Protect fruit blossom against late frost.

Harden off young plants.

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Direct sow vegetables outside, broad beans, early Brussels sprouts, radishes, spinach, spring onions, lettuce, peas etc..

Plant main crop potatoes

Mow your lawns regularly.

Happy Gardening!

We open the Castle gates on Saturday March 31 for the season. For full ticket; booking and garden tour details are available via the castle website at

Martin Duncan - Head gardener Arundel Castle

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