‘All the wet weather we’ve been having has been a real nuisance but we’re still very much on track for 14th March, the day the Garden opens to the public for the 2020 season. That’s a full two weeks earlier than usual – because of the mild winters and early springs we’ve been having in recent years, our fabulous magnolias are now in flower much earlier than they used to be and we want to make sure our visitors get to see them in all their glory.
‘I’m really looking forward to doing tours of the magnolia collection for visitors on 23rd March and 3rd April – warmth and rain last year came at just the right time for them, so the trees are loaded with buds and they’re set to put on an amazing display. It will be wonderful to see the great reaction they get.
‘But the gardening team and I can’t spend too much time sitting back and admiring them ourselves as there’s still lots to do at this time of year. One of the biggest jobs is mulching all the borders with composted woodchip to keep weeds down and help keep moisture in over the summer. We’re also lifting and dividing groups of perennials like sanguisorbas, rudbeckias and phlomis in the Paradise Walk and the Blue Border, and checking all our trees and shrubs for broken branches and loosened stakes caused by the recent high winds. There are lots of narcissus to deadhead too, and we’ll soon be planting summer-flowering bulbs, including lilies, in the Italian Garden and pruning summer-flowering Hydrangea paniculata, perovskia, buddlejas, caryopteris and ceratostigma.
‘Now’s also the time, as perennials like delphiniums, aconites and thalictrums, start to emerge in the Blue Border, that we start putting in hazel and birch plant supports for them. It’s so much easier to do it now so that the foliage grows up through the supports, rather than waiting until the plants start to flop over – it’s impossible to prop them back up again neatly.
‘Over in the Italian Garden, we’re getting ready for a redesign (more news about that soon!) and the first step is to move some of the evergreen shrubs like sarcococcas and box there. And, at last, we can start to remove winter coverings from tender perennials like tree ferns and bananas in the Round Dell. Spring is only just around the corner, hopefully!’
The Garden opens to the public on 14th March. Andy’s Magnolia Tours costs £12 per person (including entry to the rest of the garden). Here’s what’s likely to be in flower this month:
* Magnolias (80 old ones and 100 young ones)
* Chaenomeles (Japanese quince)
* Anemone blanda