March is one of the busiest months in the Gardener's year. By the end of this month the first round of the garden should have been made.
Beds are cleared of spent vegetation, weed free and mulched. Pruning and tying in of roses, trees and shrubs. The golden rule is - if you are able to start April with well maintained beds, you have a chance of keeping on top of the garden for the year to come.
Spring foliage and flowers that are brightening up our days in the Sunken Garden are; Hellebores in subtle shades of mauve, yellow primroses and dainty snowdrops clustered together in groups. Vibrant ground cover of Euphorbia 'Ruby Glow' with Dryopteris erythrosora, a perfect under planting for the Contorted Hazel.
Bergenia cordifolia falls beautifully over the walls of raised beds. It is a favoured border filler, often overlooked by more showy neighbours, really performing well at this time of year with their large oval leaves and clusters of bright pink flowers.
Whilst there is still a chill in the air, blue skies and a gentle breeze beckon the daffodils from slumber.
Walking in the garden in April I can see the subtle changes brought about by the increased light levels. The yellows and variegated plants are striking in the winter months, but now take on a softness in the spring light along with a backdrop of green instead of soil and bare branches.
Plants of interest in April continue to be Cornus, Silver Birch and Ornamental Grasses offering colour and graceful shapes. The wildlife pond is so full of lush growth for most of the year, it is only now that you can see the pond! The shoots of Artemisia 'Oriental Limelight', Hellebore foetidus, Cornus stolonifera 'Flaviramea' and wild salvias are starting to grow.
This area is a true insect haven. For most of the year, fit to burst with shelter, cover and flowers for all manner of our essential pollinators
At last we can enjoy a greater variety of flowers and foliage when May arrives. Two flowering shrubs of particular interest in the garden at the moment are Sophora microphylla 'Sun King' and Genista 'Porlock.' There are wonderful displays of Tulips, in Spring, planted en masse; 'Queen of the Night', 'Uncle Tom' and 'Allegretto.' It is lovely to be bringing out the deep purple coloured Aeoniums from their winter habitat, and seeing them planted once more amongst the rocks in the gravel garden.
Down in the Lower Garden a new lighting system can be set up for special occasions to enhance the pond, perfect for a summer's evening and a magical ending for a Stoberry wedding reception. Did you know that you can arrange to visit the Garden and enjoy a variety of refreshments including Traditional Cream Teas, Chocolate Heaven and Champagne and Strawberries?