We are now officially open. a quick initial opening of the plant sales area over the Easter weekend before an official opening of the site on 14th of April. The garden is starting to feel like its old self again. Our loyal season ticket holders have not forgotten us, with many choosing to renew their membership and visit the garden. Many holiday makers are already arriving coming from across the UK.

This month in the garden it has been all about the bluebells displays, enchanting flowering cherries and the more subtle flowering dogwoods. Everywhere you look plants are emerging and unfurling in the first green flush of growth. Blue sky, dry and sunny weather, has framed the garden beautifully.

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Rhododendron Marwood Dawnbluebellsunder the cherry blossom

      Rhododendron 'Marwood Dawn                                                   blankets of bluebells                                               cherry blossom

Jobs in the Garden

Prop bench

 

One of the main focuses of the garden team during April has been plant propagation in our propagation house and plant nursery. Before taking on the job of head gardener, I had never been personally responsible for the maintenance and management of a plant nursery. It has been quite eye opening to see just how much effort and hard work is involved in keeping everything neat, tidy, and organised.

 

                                               

 

Especially important given, that we also have an Online Shop now in addition to our plant sales area. Jobs that have been completed include.

  • Now that the days have warmed up, the risk of frost is diminished. Plants that have overwintered under the protection of polytunnels and cold frames are also being moved out to the standing out areas to harden off.
  • The polytunnel and cold frames need to be weeded and tidied before they are refilled with the potted-on cuttings that were taken late last year. Plants propagated by cuttings include Camellia, Salvia, herbaceous perennials and tree and shrub cuttings.
  • Seed sowing, most especially Primulas, are now carpeting the benches.
  • Due to the national lockdown plant sales were much reduced and as we entered autumn 2020, where normally we would have sold most of our plant stock, we instead found that our nursery area was overflowing with plants that needed attention. After a winter dormancy. These plants need to be given royal treatment, to be top dressed, tidied and in many cased divided.
  • Generally, the nursery needs to be weeded and looked after. We are fortunate to have a large and fine specimen of a copper beech growing along the lane that runs above our garden. Its branches grow directly above our plant nursery area. Every winter this fine tree drops many leaves which need to be collected and swept.

camellia cuttings
Two of our most adept propagators and longest serving gardens here at Marwood Hill Gardeners are   Malcolm and Lin. I hope they do not mind me mentioning but they have been having a bit of a competition to see whose camellia cuttings have come out the best. Lin seems to be taking the lead. Below are images of their plants.

                                        

Like any landscape the garden paths need to be maintained. Early in the month, we began covering many of the garden paths with woodchip. In certain parts of the garden the paths have been deeply rutted by our garden vehicle this has been filled in with with topsoil. Garden benches have also been dusted off and placed out in their allocated locations.

The partial replanting of the Herbaceous borders has now been completed. This work will hopefully extend the flower season of these beds. With purple flowering honesty bringing colour to the later part of March and blue flowering Monkshood and varieties of salvias keeping interest well into November.

The team has begun to clear through and tidy the bog garden area. With attention first on the newly planted areas and moving onto the beds running adjacent to the stream.

Gardening News

Repair to spiral bench
We welcome back four garden volunteers to the garden and one new volunteer. Brenda and Sue are both longstanding garden volunteering at Marwood both are approaching twenty years at Marwood hill gardens. Brenda is chief pot washer and has her work cut out with more than 1000 dirty pots to work through. Sue is an ace dead-header and weeder. Pat and Pete have also returned, they have hit the nursery with enthusiasm, helping us weed and organise the plant nursery.

A final change that you may notice is our popular spiral bench at the top of Topfield (north facing slope of garden) has been dismantled and is in the process of being rebuilt. This bench is more than 30 years old and was originally constructed of Leylandii wood. A tree that is generally loved and hated equally, its wood is very long lasting. We will rebuild this bench gradually, initially using wood from last years fallen Eucalyptus and Pterocarya (Wingnut) trees. The bench will remain a circle until the next treefalls,at which point we will restore it to its full spiral glory.

 

Gardening Achievements

 

Oliver in lower lake

We have finally completed cutting back dogwood from lower lake bank. As I mentioned in March’s blog these shrubs extended far into the lower lake and needed to be pulled out with force. As usual our garden volunteer, Oliver, who is happy to throw himself into the hardest of tasks, has managed to pull the plants out of the lake whilst working from a steep bank and all without falling in.

 

 

 

 

        

Tips for your Garden

  • Pricking out seedlings and potting on cuttings
  • Begin weeding. Get them now while small and easy to remove before more of a problem later. Lesser Celandine, chickweed, cleavers, nettles, watercress are problems in the garden. Though do leave some of these plants for benefit of wildlife in corners of garden if possible.
  • Pond weed treatment for ponds, cleaning out of pond pumps.
  • Clearing out cold frames and hardening plants off.
  • Now is an ideal time to divide many herbaceous perennials just as or before the active growth emerges. Including perennial geraniums, Michaelmas daisies (Symphyotrichum), stonecrops (Hylotelephium), Crocosmia and Campanula.
  • Removing old fronds from deciduous ferns
  • Now the risk of frost has past start deadheading hydrangea flowerheads, as new flower buds appear so new blooms can be better admired.

Plant of the month: Geum ‘Lipstick Sunset’

Were have started to increase the range of geums we have available in our plant shop and planed within the garden. Initially favoring firm favourites such as red flowering ‘Mrs Bradshaw’ and orange ‘Totally Tangerine’ we have started adding some more unusual varieties, Geum ‘Lipstick sunset, ‘East of Eden’ and ‘Marika’ being a few of the newer selections. Geums are low maintenance plants, they grow equally well when planted in the ground or as part of a container display. To encourage repeat flowering ensure you keep them deadheaded.

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 Geum Lipstick Sunset2Geum Lipstick Sunset

 

Now is a great time to take a walk across Marwood Hill Garden, the floral scent is phenomenal. The weather has been amazing this past week. Blue skies, sun, and warmth. Let us hope it continues into the Easter weekend. Flowers are sprouting up across the garden in a colour explosion. With no frost to worry about, the magnolias have put on a great display with an eruption of pinks, purples, and whites across the garden, contrasting well with the whites, reds, and pinks of the late flowering Camellias.

As I write this month’s blog, the sun is streaming in through the window. The garden is very spring like, a small colony of white and purple crocus have colonized the tearoom lawn. Snowdrops and hellebores which are still flowering but will soon give way to the masses of daffodils that are spread across the garden. Camellias are in full bloom in shades of red, pink, and white and the magnolias are covered in fat flower buds promising a good display in the next few months. There is an air of optimism in the garden with many local residents and garden volunteers having already received their first vaccinations, so there is a feeling of real positivity and that normality is just round the corner.

November to mid-February, is an ideal time to look at tree work in the garden. With leaves removed the branch structure of a tree can be better accessed and with most bulbs and herbaceous perennials lying dormant and protected under the ground, falling branches can do little damage. Conifers put on a new flush of growth in April and deciduous trees tend to lie dormant in the winter months, with sap only again beginning to rise from mid-February onwards. which makes it an ideal time to prune trees.

With the leaves having fallen from the trees, the bones of the garden have now been revealed. The bright white bark of the birch and eucalyptus are very striking and many of the smooth-barked magnolias are covered with a wide diversity of lichen in an array of interesting colours, white, grey, orange, blue, green and yellow. Some flowers persist including early flowering Camellias and Rhododendrons which are starting to show, flashes of pink, white and red. The white bell flowers of Leucojum (Spring Snowflake) and early daffodils can also be seen emerging from the woodland floor.

November has been a quiet month. The November national lockdown meant that holiday makers and visitors to our gardens all but disappeared, despite this we felt it was important to keep the garden open to provide a place for people to get a bit of fresh air and recreation.

It’s October and despite the rather wet weather the trees are still putting on a good show. An explosion of colour has erupted from Marwood’s woodland canopy. Flame-like reds and oranges, cooler lemon-yellows vie for attention against the richer, buttery tones. Trees that have been quite indistinguishable during spring and summer suddenly draw attention.

Wow what a busy month!!! This September has been an unusually busy month. Traditionally September would be a quieter time in the garden, when we see fewer visitors, as summer holidays end and the new school year begins. This year has been quite different. Children may have gone back to school, but much to our delight, garden visitors have continued to come to explore Marwood. Which has allowed us to show off the late summer highlights in the garden.

It has been several months since I have sat down and written the Head Gardener’s Blog. That is not to say when lockdown happened Marwood completely stopped, far from it.

Regrettably like other businesses many of our staff were furloughed. At the time of lockdown all the hard work had been done and our plant centre was full of a fantastic range of plants ready for sale and the garden was looking immaculate. After a week of trading the door was duly shut again (mid March). Despite this’ always keen to focus on the positive’ the Marwood Team viewed lockdown as an opportunity. It was the ideal time for us to set up the Online Shop. Boxes were sourced, couriers were chosen, and the Online Shop was developed. Much needed income started to flow into the business.

Take a tour of Marwood Hill Gardens in April 2020

If you go down in the woods today.......

Spring has finally reached the garden. Marwood is now dotted with pink, reds and whites. The early flowering Magnolia, Camellia and Rhododendron are blooming across the garden. The richly perfumed pale pink Magnolia sprengeri. The dark pink cabbage sized flowers of Magnolia campbellii subsp. Mollicomata are looking amazing, contrasting well with the nearby magnolia purple-pink flowered Magnolia ‘Charles Raffill'. Salix gracilistyla 'Mount Aso' is looking resplendent, with its bright red winter shoots above its pink and silver fluffy male catkins (available for sale). Look out for early spring flowering herbaceous perennials such as strikingly blue daisy like Anemone blanda and dark blue flowering Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’.

After four successive storms Atiyah, Brendan, Ciara and Dennis, three large trees have failed in the garden. One large Eucalyptus has fallen into the upper lake, with two other trees coming down in the bog garden and folly area. Many branches and detritus litter the garden. The tree surgeons made clever use of a small boat and a winch to remove the eucalyptus from the top lake and the garden team have been busy clearing fallen branches and logs away. With so many fallen trees, much space has been created for new planting opportunities.

February is here, bringing with it the prospect of lighter evenings, much to the relief of the garden team. We are however not out of the woods yet; the continuing battle with the wet weather which has fully saturated the garden and the threat of frost is still a very real possibility.

Early flowering Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ was the first bulb to emerge throughout the garden followed quickly by snowdrops, Hellebores and most recently Leucojum vernum (Spring snowflake). Early flowering Camellias, Rhododendron nobleanum and R. ‘Christmas Cheer’ have provided splashes of purple, pink, white and red.

My Name is Matthew Brewer, I have recently taken on the role of head gardener at Marwood Hill Gardens.

In all honesty, before last June, I had never heard of this garden but for a chance visit to Marwood whilst holidaying with my family. Upon entering the garden we naturally headed for the tearoom. Halfway through a ginger scone, an impromptu interview with the Garden Manager and my fate was sealed. Before joining Marwood I was working as a woodland Horticulturalist at RHS garden Harlow Carr in Yorkshire, together with a hardy band of volunteers clearing and developing its woodland.