Snow helps keepthose bugs at bay

AT THE castle it feels as though we have been through an ice age already, with snow, ice and the deep frosts. It’s not surprising to learn that December was the coldest one across Britain ever recorded.

Wednesday, 19th January 2011, 9:49 am

On a positive note the freezing weather will have killed off many of our unwanted pests and the snow will have helped to insulate some of our plants from the worst of the frost damage. Unfortunately most of our Echiums perished, although luckily we potted some up in the autumn and had them stored inside just in case – phew!

January is not a time to sit back and relax as there are many jobs to be done in the gardens and grounds.

In the organic kitchen garden Izzy has been busy training the peaches in the Victorian vinery. She has now moved on to winter pruning the apple tunnel and espaliered cooking apples – Peasegood’s Nonsuch, which are our treasured cooking apples as they can grow to the size of a small pumpkins.

Winter pruning is essential as it decides the direction of this years growth.

The garden team are working hard at weeding and top dressing the flower and vegetable beds with our well rotted organic manure full of our favourite friends the earthworms. In the cut flower garden we are lifting and dividing our Rudbekia, Astas, Verbena bonarensus and the self-seeded Euphoria’s which will all then be potted on and reused in other areas of the gardens.

We are working on some additional stone features within the gardens.

Holes are being dug for some new striking Trachycarpus fortunii palms and additional wildflower areas are be prepared over the next few months. We are also developing some new exciting flower beds.

A few plants to look out for in January and February are: Galanthus nivalis (snowdrops); Sarococca hookeriana (Christmas Box) with lovely sweet smelling white flowers; Daphne Adora; Chimonanthus praecox (winter sweet) which have fragrant flowers; and Lonicera fragrantissima heavily scented.

A few tips from the castle garden team:

Buy bluebells and snowdrops in the green, both make a fantastic addition to woodland gardens.

Keep feeding the birds.

Order seeds and summer flowering bulbs.

Prune wisteria.

Continue planting and winter pruning of fruit.

Chit early potatoes.

Warm up some soil with cloches for early seed sowing outside.

Date for your diary we open again on April 1.

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Happy Gardening!