April Garden Blog
After what seems an age since we closed the gates last autumn, we are delighted to welcome you all back to Grimsthorpe to what we hope will be another enjoyable and floriferous year!
April is a time for new beginnings, holidays, and changeable weather. After the shirt-sleeve warmth of March, April has arrived with a reminder that we are not to take the weather for granted as we have had numerous frosts with beautiful sunny days along with buffeting winds, drenching downpours and even a smattering of snow.
We welcomed our excellent new volunteers to the gardens last month who have made their efforts visible already with lots of hard work being completed to help present the gardens at their best – thank you to all involved. I am sure our volunteers will become an integral part of the Grimsthorpe gardens team and the added help they provide is all the more important this year as we have been nominated for the Historic Houses Garden of the Year competition.
This competition celebrates gardens from around the UK and it is fantastic to be nominated out of so many wonderful gardens and a fantastic opportunity to show Grimsthorpe at its best. If you are interested and would like to find out more, please follow this link https://www.historichouses.org/garden-of-the-year/vote-for-garden-of-the-year/ for more information.
April weather over the castle and kitchen garden ©Jim Handley
Snakes Head Fritillary flowering in April ©Jim Handley
If you are a returning visitor or new to the gardens at Grimsthorpe, I like to introduce the gardens as being informally formal with strong structural elements alongside mixed herbaceous planting and a wilderness of meadows and woodland. Yew topiary and hedges provide structure and interest throughout the year whilst the changing seasons transform the feeling of the gardens around them.
As we welcome you back in April, the spring bulbs are in full force along with primulas, cowslips, and fritillaries, and as the month passes into May these areas will develop with Pheasant Eye narcissi, Camassias and Bluebells until they are overtaken by billowing clouds of Cow Parsley. As June unfolds, roses will add colour and scent and the herbaceous borders will fill out with seasonal colour as we add Dahlias and Salvias to extend summer into autumn.
Our ornamental kitchen garden holds interest throughout the year and each time you visit you will see our no-dig beds establishing with produce and companion planting. We have adopted the no-dig method of soil care to create the best environment for soil organisms to thrive and to improve our soil structure, both of which help to improve our crops whilst ensuring the soil stays healthy for years to come.
Billowing clouds of Cow Parsley ©Jim Handley
Forced Rhubarb is regularly harvested during April ©Jim Handley
Jobs during April are always done at speed as the plants are beginning to grow at a noticeable rate now. The gardens team will be concentrating on mulching to trap moisture, feed the soil and to suppress early weed growth as well as moving and adding new plants to our herbaceous borders. Our dahlias have been started off in the glasshouse, early potatoes planted and sweet peas and early vegetables such as broad beans and peas are being hardened off to plant out when the weather permits. Crops of purple sprouting broccoli and forced rhubarb are also being harvested.
As well as exploring the gardens, there are walks throughout the estate where you can see herds of Red and Fallow deer as well as a variety of birds on and around the lake. Children have expanses of lawns to play on as well as the Oaks adventure playground to release that extra Easter egg energy!
We hope you enjoy the gardens and look forward to meeting you all over the coming year so please be sure to say hello and ask any questions as we will be more than happy to help.
Head of Gardens & Landscape.