Has this been the driest and hottest April on record? It certainly seems so! Despite trying to be a month ahead, it now feels like we are a month behind, with everything romping ahead full-kilter. I’m sure everyone remembers frost or snow in April’s gone by, but this year we seem to have thrown the rule-book completely out of the window. So much for not planting out until after the first of May….
As predicted, the ‘Dutch Master’ Daffodils went into overdrive mid-April, with almost two thousand blooming simultaneously along the length of the drive. A marvellous sight! Some of the ‘White Folly’ held on to provide a nice counterpoint to the yellow – and by the end of the month, this counterpoint was achieved by the naturalised bluebells.
The Wisteria on the potting shed also erupted into cascades of lilac bloom, and is already sending out lots of new whippy growth that will need to be tamed in Autumn – I’m happy that the plant has responded well to the formative spur pruning and new framework. We will continue to build up the spur network over the next few years to ensure more prolific flowering each spring.
In addition to the fruit trees that arrived at the end of March, April saw us take delivery of around three thousand box plants (Buxus sempervirens – Buxaceae) which will be planted around the edge of the four central beds of the kitchen garden – these, in combination with the alpine strawberries and chives, will form the core structure of the garden in winter. We also took delivery of over thirty 2m high Yew trees (Taxus baccata – Taxaceae) that will form the ‘butresses’ on the outside of the kitchen garden walls.
On the infrastructure front, April saw a radical new element introduced to the design of the walled garden – two paved areas either side of the Glasshouse, which will be used as an outdoor kitchen, dining and seating spaces. Additionally, all of the walls were bedecked in their frame of supporting wires, which will allow us to train the fruit trees and grow climbers.
April will also be remembered for the back-breaking job of improving the soil in the kitchen garden. Compaction over winter made the soil very hard to work, so we have incorporated around forty tonnes of sharp sand and thirty cubic meters of composted green waste (organically produced of course!) Thankfully this should not have to be repeated next year!
Seed sowing and pricking out continues apace, and the gardening team hopes to be planting out a wider range of plant material after the Easter break. Check in again next month to see how we did!