I have been at Burghley now for 18 years and I still enjoy watching the change of the seasons and the joy of bringing through new varieties and designs to the Gardens my team and I manage.
The festive season is taking hold and this week we have used freshly cut Estate holly, blue spruce and home-grown Christmas trees to decorate the Orangery Restaurant and the pop-up Christmas Shop is adorned with silver birch from woodland in the park.
Winter doesn’t necessarily mean dark nights and drab colours!
One of the first winter jobs that I always tackle is to plan and plant the winter forcing bulbs, which are used in and around the House over winter, to add a dash of colour. My preferences for Burghley are narcissi paperwhites and hyacinths, also a favourite with the family for their highly scented flowers and prolonged blooming window.
Johns Tip – Narcissi paperwhites planted now will give a splash of colour adding an extra decoration over the festive period.
It’s not just us that need the extra layers… your plants might appreciate a scarf as well!
As the colder days approach it’s a good idea to protect some of the more tender plants in the Gardens. The best way to do this is to either move pot based plants to a warmer position in a greenhouse or close to a sheltered spot. For those rooted to the ground it’s a case of covering them up naturally in fern leaves or by bundling them up in horticultural fleece.
Johns Tip – Avoid covering with plastic sheeting as the moisture collected within can cause severe damage.
Don’t just leaf them alone!
Now that the autumn colours have started to fall from the trees it is a good time to collect and compost the leaves rather than allowing them to turn to mush on the paths and block out the light from your grass. Collected leaves can easily be added to your compost heaps and then reused to mulch the soil come springtime.
Johns Tip – Treat your grassy tenderly. When collecting your leaves from grassy areas take care and go contemporary! Use a plastic rake and wooden boards to clear away.
It might be Winter… but I’m already looking forwards to the spring!
There are many catalogues out now, from different suppliers, offering colourful ideas for the 2015 season. If you order early fantastic discounts can usually be haggled and you will not be left disappointed as popular seeds and plants can sell-out quickly. I will be sticking to a Burghley staple of bidens (goldstar) and anagallis (sky-lover) to make a lasting display from May through October.
Johns Tip – Always use brand new seeds as open packets can deteriorate!
While the weather outside of the window may look off putting now is a good time to look towards next season. Spend your winter planning and purchasing so that you’ll be able to reap the benefits next year!
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and look forward to updating you on our progress in the Gardens again in 2015!