The Gardens in Winter

Come along to see what our 14 acres of stunning, RHS partner gardens have on offer in Winter. Head Gardener James Cross has more details below about his work in the gardens this month:

The garden team has been very busy digging a new border near the Apple Store. The area used to contain a huge rockery and, over the years, a variety of plantings before being laid to grass about twenty years ago.

We are cultivating it for a range of plants and we will finalise the planting plan over the next few months before planting in April. The style will need to fit with the other areas but it will contain plenty of new and different plants to the rest of the gardens. It has been very rocky and stony and I am very pleased we have had lots of help from our loyal volunteer team! We will now need to bring in some good quality topsoil to raise the level in places.

We have also finished preparing the final section of Winter Border and that was a dream to dig. The border must have been used as a kitchen garden at some point (probably from the late 1700s) because the soil was very deep, dark brown soil, ideal for any plants. I wish the rest of the garden was like that! We have not discovered any treasures yet, well no coins anyway which is unusual as we normally find a few in each border ranging from Victorian to Roman (these are all on display in the exhibition room).

Wherever we dig has, in every case, already been disturbed and we are only scratching the surface historically. The only exception is under the Oriel window, where we dug down to the original path (creating the new border) and found a silver penny from 1250! We occasionally dig up pieces of the original medieval floor tiles however these have been long removed from the great hall and used as hardcore for older pathways. The Roman coin we discovered will most likely have arrived with topsoil brought in during Bishop Law’s time!

We have two other jobs this month; leaf-blowing and hedge-cutting - providing it is not too frosty - otherwise you’ll find me in a warm office or the greenhouse, and the rest of the team can keep warm by double-digging!