Highgrove Garden Update
9 May 2013
With the cold start to the season, spring development in gardens generally has been much later than in previous years, with each degree of warmth increasing the anticipation for breaking of both flower and leaf buds.
This week has seen a rush of movement from all quarters of the Garden at Highgrove. Although temperatures have been cool, this has meant that there has been no precocious flowering and therefore no damage from early morning frosts.
Some of the more tender shrubs which put on growth in the increasing day length have suffered, such as Cistus and Azara so work in the Garden has included either removal of these or tip pruning out the damage.
With later opening of the plums and apples, there should be good cross pollination and good yields this year – barring any unusual weather patterns!
The flowering cherries have been magnificent; the flower has held well and a true delight when one remembers to look up from the fabulous displays of late Narcissi, still going strong particularly in the Arboretum.
The three varieties of Narcissi used in this area are:
- Narcissi ‘Thalia’ which is the first to flower: an old variety that has stood the test of time with each flowering stem bearing 2-3 fragrant pure white flowers. Planted in sweeping drifts, this delivers a most heady and elegant early display. As these begin to wane,
- Narcissi ‘Hawera’ are showing their form; from very thin grass-like leaves emerge stems bearing up to 5 nodding delicate yellow flowers with reflexed perianths; this gives a windswept appearance to each swathe.
- Narcissi ‘Sun Disc’ flowers at the same time with each stem bearing up to three flowers; quite different than both the other two Narcissi, the perianth is disc-like and held upright, giving the impression that the flowers are “looking up” and offering their sweet scent to enjoy.
All varieties hold well and give long lasting displays. They are best planted in full sun to partial shade.
There have been a number of Rhododendrons, both species and varieties, planted in the Arboretum over the past few years. The excellent growing conditions of last year encouraged good flower set among many which haven’t flowered before. It is most exciting to know that they have settled well with hopefully more and more flowers to come in following years.
One of His Royal Highness’s favourite Japanese maples, Acer palmatum ‘Shin deshōjō’ is planted throughout the Arboretum; its brilliant scarlet leaves emerge accentuated by bright shafts of light coming through the developing tree canopy. Unusually with this late season, pink flowering Camellias compliment this display.
In this rush of spring growth, there is never enough time to enjoy watching each tree species break bud in their own individual way. The copper beeches and tulip trees look wonderful even against a clouded sky!
A most exciting project in the Cottage Garden has been the building of a Summer House using dead standing oak on the Estate as the main material. Using Mark Hoare as the architect, His Royal Highness designed it in a rustic flowing style which was then crafted and built on site by the Estate Team. The newly planted borders either side will quickly fill and encompass the structure which is now the focal point of this sunny and intimate area of the Garden.
With all the emerging leaves, bulbs and herbaceous plants, weeds are also taking a march through the Garden. The preparatory work of mulching and pruning prior to this time has been so useful as all hands are now on the trowel and hoe!