The Castle’s first daffodil has braved a peek at the world outside, which means that spring is (hopefully) just around the corner. We’ve certainly had our fair share of inclement weather in these parts, and that has presented something of a challenge for Guy Lucas and his Gardens & Grounds Team.
“I suppose there are some that might argue working in the constant pouring rain is character building,” says Guy, “but on the whole it has just presented us with plenty of opportunities to spend some much-needed time in the potting sheds and polytunnels.”
The Castle, Gardens and Grounds open to the public on Saturday 15th February, so for Guy and his team, the hard work is far from done.
“We are racing towards our public opening and the start of the growing season.” says Guy. “When not avoiding torrential rain storms, we have been planting around 12,500 bulbs and bedding plants, using a mixture of Tulips, Hyacinths and Forget-me-nots to help provide a vibrant mix of pastels all the way from March through to May.”
On the wider estate, this will be the first year that the large expanses of grassland will be managed as wildflower meadow. Contrary to popular belief, this does not simply involve the Gardens & Grounds Team neglecting their mowers. They have been busy flail collecting, putting the sheep out for grazing, seed harvesting, weeding, scarifying and sowing – all in an effort to give these meadows the best chance of establishing themselves and becoming as diverse as possible. Not only does this improve the biodiversity of the flora and fauna across the estate, but these fields of wildflowers should hopefully be exceptionally pleasing on the eye between June and August.
The meadows won’t be the only new feature on the estate. Guy’s team are working towards the completion of a brand new garden (previously known as the ‘Japanese Garden’), which is tucked away between the Shady Garden and the Apothecary Garden. If this still doesn’t ring a bell, then fear not. The area was largely inaccessible during most of 2019, while a war was waged on a forest of bamboo in the area. The project should be well underway in the early part of spring however. A herringbone brick courtyard will be laid, with a central octagonal pond and an attractive perennial herbaceous border.
As readers of The Castle Drum will have no doubt noticed on their commute to the Castle, the playground equipment at the corner of Halley Drive and Bradley Road has been removed. A new play area will be created between Chestnuts Tearoom and the Nuttery late this spring. It will be built from all-natural resources, to align with the estate’s commitment to using sustainable materials. The focus will be on imaginative play, so the team will be using trails and obstacles, tunnels, mounds, trees and dens, with activities designed to channel childrens’ creativity, imagination and sense of adventure.
The playground is sure to be a huge hit for the families using Chestnuts Tearoom. The Castle Drum also has exciting news on that front. Renovations are now complete, with a new servery layout - designed to improve queuing time - and some attractive new customer seating. The Castle Drum is delighted to be able to announce a soft launch for faculty and staff from 2pm to 4pm on February 11th.
”We welcome feedback on the new menu of course,” says Enterprise Director, Julie Ryan, “ but the soft launch is also a great opportunity for our Chestnuts staff to familiarise themselves with their new surroundings and practice serving a hungry crowd of customers.”
» Re-leafed to see Spring again since January 2017 «