Arundel’s Tulip Festival ushers in a season of colour

In its 149 year history Arundel Cathedral has rarely had to fight for the attention of those in its locale, however the coruscating and intense tulips are an undoubted rival for the famously fair abbey.

Arundel Castle Flower Festival. Pic S Robards SR2204251 SUS-220425-145629001

His Grace the Duke of Norfolk and the Sussex Heritage Trust have been proudly showcasing Arundel Castle’s world famous tulip festival.

Over the last eight years over 1.2 million bulbs have been planted in the magnificent forty acre grounds and were on display during a recent special event hosted by the castle and the trust.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

Attendees took in the stunning displays of narcissus, cammasias and alliums, which have been enjoyed by a large number of visitors so far this year, in the Collector Earl’s Garden – with the magnificent cathedral as the backdrop to the eye catching flora.

Sussex Heritage Trust Award presentation to Arundel Castle, West Sussex, UK. Photograph by Sam Stephenson, 07880 703135, www.samstephenson.co.uk, @sspjpg.

The palatial plot recently won an award for the Earl’s Garden, which as recently as 2008 was a carpark but is now a memorial to the extravagant and eclectic tastes of art enthusiast the 14th Earl Of Arundel and was designed by Julian and Isabel Bannerman.

Since 2014, the horticultural team has endeavoured to created the best tulip festival possible and in doing so head gardener Martin Duncan created the world’s first labyrinth of tulips.

The historic Stew Pond Project, which won a 2020 Sussex Heritage Trust Award, was also showcased at the special event.

The pond which is believed to be of medieval origin, was part of a two-year project to showcase the biodiversity of the natural area into tranquil water gardens. It is a particular favourite of its creator Martin Duncan.

Arundel Castle Flower Festival. Pic S Robards SR2204251 SUS-220425-145655001

Martin said: “The stew pond uses natural elements with the natural landscape and, because its got all the water, when you add all the wildflowers with it, fits into in the landscape,”

“Although it’s not a garden, we’ve already had kingfishers and we have a wide range of birds.

“We had an entomologist visit and he said he couldn’t believe it, but it had one of the biggest counts of insect life he had seen all year.

“I’ve been very fortunate with the Duke and Duchess, if I do a drawing or have an idea they are quite happy for it to go ahead.”

Arundel Castle Flower Festival. Pic S Robards SR2204251 SUS-220425-150255001

Helen Reeve, chief executive officer at the Sussex Heritage Trust, said: “It was awarded for the craftsmanship and the new design of the space, a lot of people wouldn’t invest the money in a stew pond like that and they have created this wonderful family area now.

“[Arundel] is such an interesting garden, it has these formal spaces and then you’ve got the stew pond which is very much designed to get better and better and evolve as time goes on.

“We only celebrate absolute excellence in architecture and landscape and that is what the awards signify.

“If your project is brilliant and is a good example of architecture and landscape in Sussex and using local craftmanship, then it will win awards.

Arundel Castle Flower Festival. Pic S Robards SR2204251 SUS-220425-145955001

“It could be everything from a garden of this scale to a private home garden, to a school, to a statue, it can be anything.

“But it is really designed to get people to raise their game with regards to architecture and design.”

Martin and his team of seven gardeners and six volunteers achieved the remarkable feat in not only keeping the vast grounds immaculate but also making sure there is always a section of flora in bloom.

Martin said: “It takes just a lot of passion and a good team.

“We all work hard to make sure it looks good. Alliums are the big thing coming up now.

“I love Allium Christophii and I’ve got those in the lavender, in a month’s time they will be floating above the lavender like hot air balloons.”

To find out more about the event visit www.arundelcastle.org/event/tulip-festival/