Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Belvoir Castle - Happy New Year

Our first year working at Belvoir has flown by - and what a fantastic year we have had.  It has been a steep learning curve in many senses of the word - we are certainly fitter, and won't need to worry too much about working off the Christmas mince pies!

On a beautiful sunny New Year's day, we took our labrador Kizzie for a walk round the grounds to check out our 'work in progress'.

Spring gardens is always a magical place; very quiet, apart from the bird song and so picturesque.  We started on a new walk at the very top of the gardens which we are looking to open in 2013 to reveal another stunning view. 

Monkey Puzzle Tree

I took this picture from the top, showing the Monkey Puzzle tree; so called, after it is said 'the unusual branches would puzzle even a monkey to climb'.  The leaves are thick, tough and scale like, with very sharp edges. 

Because there are some beautiful and rare trees in the gardens, one of our projects is to name and plot them for the castle's records. 

The soil conditions here are quite unusual for this part of the country.  We have steep slopes with many springs and this creates ideal conditions for trees that like well drained soil that doesn't dry out, and also of course it is acidic; so mimics the conditions similar to the Himalayas'.

Acer griseum
This tree I could identify without reaching for the encyclopaedia!  It is the beautiful Acer griseum grown for its unusual peeling bark.  This slow growing tree suitable for small gardens will grow on most soil types, which makes it very appealing to many designers.  It has beautiful light green leaves which turn a brilliant red and orange in the autumn.

Acer Griseum  Paperbark maple

Acer 'Phoenix'
Acer Phoenix

This little beauty is called Acer x conspicuous 'Phoenix'.  In contrast to the last tree this is a rare maple with striped orange-pink and white bark.  It has large, cool bright green leaves in the summer which turn a fantastic fine gold in the autumn. This does need an acidic soil.

It won't be long before the Rhododendrons, azaleas, Camellias and Magnolias begin their display....  Please Mr Frost stay away!!

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