‘Anyone who thinks gardening begins in the spring and ends in the fall, is missing the best part of the whole year: for gardening begins in January with the dream.’
Josephine Nuese

January

Pouring over seed catalogues, planning and ordering has kept head gardener, Ed Bollom, busy, working to create an ambitious planting programme. Something old and something new seasoned with heritage varieties of fruit, vegetables and flowers looking forward to the seasons ahed. Time to watch plans take shape as the gardeners plant, tend and weed!!

Battling against bitter cold, snow, rain and high winds the gardeners have pruned their way round two hundred and fifty fruit trees which grow round the garden walls. The trees, almost 100 years old, have grown to quite a height, but, with the aid of a 4 meter high scaffold the annual task will soon be completed. The remaining job is to prune the Gordon Castle Plum trees, propagated by famous head gardener, John Webster who lived and worked in the garden until his death in 1890. Ed Bollom, the present head gardener, reckons that the trees are between one hundred to one hundred and fifty years old, the trunks hollowed with age, however, they still produce a prolific harvest of rich golden fruit which contributes to the unique flavour of Gordon Castle Plum Gin.

It was decided to dig out the bed growing Jerusalem artichokes, but, easier said than done because this root vegetable is, to say the least, invasive. It took a week for a mechanical digger, excavating to a depth of 1 meter!  Now a new space offers the chance to grow different native flowers – unusual snapdragon, dahlias and summer flowering bulbs such as gladioli, lilies and freesias, joined by some ‘everlasting’ blooms, to use in wreath making courses at the end of the summer.

February

Work beings to move the mountain ash ( rowan trees) to a different area of the garden replacing them with four varieties of cultivated hazels know as filberts and cob nuts. Once the trees are established it is good to anticipate a tempting harvest of fresh hazelnuts.

The main job this month is labelled ‘ The Herb Beds.’ The task to clear the existing area in order to replant with an easily maintained, interesting range of culinary and medicinal herbs. Some, not so well known, like hyssop, loosestrife, feverfew, rare thymes and sages. Mints of which there are many, can be invasive however it is planned to grow in a contained way to prevent a mint ‘ take over!!’

 ‘Fruit tree pruning, and any pruning is less of a science than it is a conversation. You prune, the tree answers, you prune again.’
Ann Ralph

 A fruit tree pruning course led by Ed Bollom the head gardener on 2nd March will offer gardeners the invaluable opportunity to learn more about the importance of pruning skills, and,  how to train apple, apricot , pear and plum trees. It is a half day course from 10am till 12.30pm including refreshments at a price of £59.50 per person. Book here.

The Garden café and gift shop is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11am till 4pm.

At this time of dreary dark days and stormy weather, to lift spirits, let us remember , American author ‘Minnie Aumonier’ who advises – ‘There is always a garden!’

The garden is open seven days a week from 10am till 4 pm. Come visit no matter the weather to find signs of spring, where snowdrops ring their snow bells in welcome and the first cherry blossom braves the cold in defiant beauty.

Kindly written by Liz Ashworth for Gordon Castle Walled Garden.

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