Getting Ready for Spring at Markshall Estate

The days are getting longer, daffodils are blooming and buds are emerging, these all mean one thing… spring is here! The Walled Garden and Flower Garden are both perfect spots onsite to see some of the estate’s best blooms and spring colours. But, what do the team do in preparation for the spring months? Emma, Horticulturalist, gives a little look behind the walls as we prepare to open for the main season.

Writing this piece as snow gently falls across the estate, you would struggle to believe that spring was on its way. However, the signs are already evident as buds appear and life begins to stir in the Walled Garden.

The gentle move from winter to spring sees the Horticulture Team busily preparing for the new year ahead. Over the last few weeks, Sara, Senior Horticulturalist, and I, along with our hard-working volunteers, have been mulching the beds, pruning back shrubs, cutting back the previous years spent stems and preparing the polytunnel and greenhouse for a busy season of seed sowing, plant cuttings and potting up. Over 60 different types of seed will be sown this year; a mixture of vegetables, annuals and perennials. Sowing seeds is a relatively inexpensive way to grow new plants; but requires a lot of attention once they germinate and grow on to become adult plants. However, it is always exciting to see the first set of leaves burst through the compost, and this magical feeling never leaves you.

Amelanchier x grandiflora blossom in the Walled Garden at Markshall Estate

Another favourite spring job is pruning the roses. All 80 roses have now been pruned and mulched with a rich blend of compost and manure. We had wonderful displays last year, especially so in our wedding garden. With a few new rose editions to the collection, we are looking forward to another blooming lovely display again. Roses are such good ‘doers’, come rain, shine or snow!

Sadly, we have been hit badly by the frost, and there have been a few casualties. Of the 10 or more gloriously towering Echiums, a plant loved by visitors and bees alike, we fear none have survived. The Euphorbia mellifera has taken a big hit, all growth badly frost-damaged. We have cut them right down to ground in the hope that the deep root system beneath is established enough to recover once temperatures improve.

But with the warming temperatures and longer days comes hope. The gaps created in the borders from the loss of plants offers fresh space for ideas and a chance to review the planting. A good time to look at how the changing climate impacts the garden and necessitates change to the types of plants we grow. The markers for ‘right plant, right place’, as pioneered by the renowned gardener Beth Chatto, are changing, and so must our plants.

Emma, Horticulturalist

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