‘While April was unusually quiet and still, across Bowood House & Gardens’ as the public stayed at home, Bowood has nevertheless welcomed some unexpected visitors this spring!’
Head Gardener, David Glass explains what’s been happening outdoors at Bowood and what we can look forward to when we re-open once more.
‘Walking through the Walled Garden in mid-April, I was very surprised to spot the May Gold rose in full bloom – something I wouldn’t expect to see until nearer to June.
The tulips were in flower – as expected – and the wisteria’s early May appearance has been on track too.
A rose barging in ahead of time and shouldering up alongside the tulips is an example of some strange plant behaviour that I am seeing happen more and more. It has to be a result of global warming.’
‘Thanks to a wet winter and spring, a lack of frosts and the recent warm and sunny weather, this has been a particularly good year for the blossom, with much more of it this spring.
Having not opened on 1st April as planned, for the time being it is just myself and one other Bowood gardener looking after the formal gardens for the time-being. Our priority is tending to the plants, keeping weeds at bay and the vast lawns under control so that when we open again everything will be more than up to the usual high standards for which Bowood’s gardens are known.’
‘Looking at the months ahead I believe there is great promise for an outstanding year in the gardens. ‘As indicated by the May Gold, the roses are as healthy as I have ever seen them and their season looks set to be a longer one than usual.
All our work pruning, clearing away all the dead leaves and adding a thick layer of farm manure is certainly paying off.’
‘We replaced 200 Iceburg roses last autumn as, ageing, they were becoming weak with no new growth from the bottom. This is no easy process: all the soil also had to be replaced so as to reduce the chance of ‘rose sickness’. The roses were then planted in the new soil with rootgrow (microbial bacteria) to encourage more root hairs and improved growth. So far so good; these new Iceburg roses are a particular favourite of Lord Lansdowne.
‘Some of my own particular favourites include Kew Gardens, Gentle Hermione and Altissimo. Although we have over 1,000 shrub roses, we are also fortunate to have many walls around the House and the four-acre Private Walled Garden. These provide the perfect spots for a huge selection of climbing roses on walls of every aspect, including the trickier north-facing ones.
All going well I expect to see the roses at their peak around late June – July although they will continue to bloom sporadically until the first frost. I do so hope that by then it will again be possible for the public to visit Bowood.’
David has also been busy with seasonal planting in the Kitchen Garden section of the Walled Garden, located behind Bowood House. Seeds he has recently sown will see the likes of carrots, parsnips, peas, beans, brassicas, onions, leeks, sweetcorn, courgettes and various salad leaves emerge as summer arrives.
‘The past weeks have certainly impressed on us all, more than ever, how we should be making the most of seasonal, home-grown and local produce,’ says David. ‘It has been wonderful to see how many people have for the first time taken to gardening – even if it is simply a window box for herbs – as well as the increased interest in down-to-earth home cooking. The marriage of the two and the whole ‘garden plot to plate’ philosophy will hopefully have added traction as we proceed through the year.
I recently walked the Kitchen Garden – at the required distance, of course, with Bowood Hotel’s Executive Head Chef, Rupert Taylor; we chatted about how produce either already out, or about to appear must not go to waste and how we can plan ahead for when the various restaurants on the Estate will open once more.
We considered what works especially well for preserving, storing and being frozen for later consumption and this provides a really useful guide to what will be planted now and in the coming weeks. Bowood’s kitchens may be closed currently, but food prep is underway nevertheless!’
David closes by saying ‘whether it’s roses or radishes, peonies or potatoes, when Bowood opens its gates to visitors once more, we will be more than up to the mark!’
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We hope to welcome you to Bowood in the near future.