Gardener’s Corner: February 2024

In February, James Cross will mark 20 years as the Head Gardener at the Palace. During his time, he’s made various changes to the gardens, such as adding winter borders that retain interest all year round. He also implemented planting styles inspired by the gardens’ historical design from centuries ago. One notable development under James’ tenure is the Knot Garden located next to the Phelps Garden, featuring a design inspired by the Palace’s portcullis.

Here’s what James has to say about the Gardens in February:

February is a month of lengthening days, snowdrops, crocus and the first daffodils. It is also the best time to enjoy winter borders like the ones we have planted here. Hellebores, daphnes, witch hazels, edgeworthias and dogwoods brighten the dullest days, and if the sun shines, the colours can be incredible. Following a mild December, January (despite the cold spell) was around average here in Wells. Therefore, the snowdrops, daffodils and crocus will be ready to bloom during any mild February weather. We recorded two minimums of minus 7, which is very cold but not enough to cause any damage to our plantings. Februarys have been mild in recent years, but we will still monitor the weather and cover the tree ferns, for example, if there are any severe spells.

We got lots done during the colder spell, because it was so dry we could cut down and clear the borders, prune the roses and rake the paths. We will finish these tasks throughout February and begin mulching the borders we have prepared. We will mow all the lawns, as the grass is surprisingly long following the mild December and end to January. Cutting the grass and edging makes a significant difference to the appearance of any garden, and you cannot beat the smell of freshly cut grass early in the season!

We hope a visit to the gardens in February will inspire you with the introduction of spring bulbs (especially the snowdrops), winter flowering shrubs and conifers and exotic plantings around the tower.

James Cross, Head Gardener

Other current and upcoming events