It seems months ago since I wrote my last blog, but it really isn’t. It’s just that January always seems to drag on in a garden, especially after the hype and rush of all the festive activities have now been and gone.
However, despite the usual January blues around, we have been treated with some fantastic early mornings in the gardens with the frost and the snow. We’re Slightly biased, naturally, but the gardens really did look fantastic. The honeysuckle and witch hazels too have been looking great, adding colour and scent on the woodland walks the past few weeks.
As I’m writing this blog, Met Office are forecasting for some more snow and cold weather to come mid-February, so it’s looking likely that we won’t be putting the gritters away just yet. It’s hard to imagine as, dare I say, this morning feels almost spring-like. The snowdrops, cyclamen and the odd iris are out flowering, giving a great splash of colour to the gardens, with new growth popping up all over. Our Bulb Festival pots too have come on in the past few weeks and are all sprouting up, destined to go out in March to give a great display in the Formal gardens, as per previous years.
January has been a busy time across the gardens, with the team finishing off the herbaceous cut back and now we are well and truly into winter works – like the pleaching of the limes, rose pruning, tree work around the lakeside and more generally tidying up the beds; trying to get ahead of those pesky weeds that are starting to pop up. We are keen to make the gardens as safe and accessible as possible so ‘making hay whilst the sun shines’ (or ‘fixing the lakeside paths whilst it’s not wet…’) also springs to mind, with a big focus on winter maintenance. Ensuring the day-to-day gardening is achieved, as well as having one finger on the longer-term plans and projects for the gardens.
Time for play
The keen eyed amongst you may have seen a concerted effort in the show gardens and play area. This area needed a little love, so it’s been great to pop some time and resource into this.
The barefoot walk is a great addition to our offer in the gardens for children and adults alike. My 2 little boys certainly enjoy getting their feet out and generally dirty (mind you they don’t normally need an excuse for that). Listening to feedback from visitors, volunteers and staff on the barefoot walk we’re making some changes. We’re reducing the length of the barefoot walk, keeping the track much closer to the other play areas and family facilities and improving the experience and quality of the existing route with some brand new surfaces for children and families to try. Our resident geese will be happy as they seem to favour the top end of the pathway, so hopefully these changes will keep everyone, including our feathered residents, happy.
As well as this, we are working behind the scenes on a variety of projects across the gardens and look forward to sharing more with you as and when these are finalised.
So even if it’s not quite Spring yet, there is plenty to see and do in the gardens at this time of year. Plus, with Winter Saver tickets now extended until 29 February, you can save up to 15% on gardens admission.
As the days increase in length, you can’t help but get excited for Spring, with the anticipation of the vibrant colours, scents, new growth and sounds that make Spring such a magical season to anticipate coming in!