Saturday, 27 April 2013

'Caerhays belle' at Belvoir Castle

A stunning hybrid Magnolia raised at Caerhays Castle near St Austell in Cornwall.  It has enormous saucer-shaped salmon pink flowers which look beautiful in the early spring light.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

80 Volunteers at Belvoir Castle

Continuing with the long term renovation plan at Belvoir, today we started work on a new path that probably hasn't seen the light of day since before the Second World War.

This path leads from the Spring Gardens in a south westerly direction towards the Dukes walk, which was rebuilt in 2012.

This last bitterly cold winter saw a few old trees hit the deck, so amongst the head high brambles, nettles and docks, massive trunks were cleared before our team of volunteers from Loughborough University arrived.

Armed with shovels, spades, secateurs, loppers and elbow grease, the team set too.  We split them up into groups of 10 - 15 to tackle different sections of the path.  

The 'first fifteen' (in both senses of the word) were set to work moving 6 tonnes of soil from the gateway - with reassuring words from me that "there is a path under this lot somewhere'!

First 'XV'

The next team, the creative section, were given a pile of logs in which to make a bench....

And what a great result!

Another group were set the task of making a wood pile; this will create a winter home for toads, centipedes and beetles - great friends of the gardener as their diet includes slugs and snails - who in turn attract hedgehogs and birds.  If the wood pile is left undisturbed long enough we may even encourage the Stag beetle.

'Beetle Inn' at Belvoir Castle

After several hours of digging and shoveling the 2nd XV eventually found the elusive path, buried under a foot of soil.

Newly unearthed path leading from The Spring Gardens

We had fantastic weather and a good day was had by all.  A big thank you to Loughborough University Action Volunteers.  'A Great Start' and hopefully we will see some of you back again soon.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Early daffodils in Belvoir Castle's Spring Gardens

At last some beautiful spring sunshine and suddenly all the flowers have burst into life.  

It seems to have been forever since we took off our jackets and worked with the sun on our backs and what a wonderful feeling it is.  

Pieris japonica
Belvoir is well known for its collection of daffodils and this afternoon I had a chance to photograph some of them.

One of the Early Rhododendrons in bud

And finally one of our lovely Magnolia's  

Next time I will attach a picture of an amazing large pink Magnolia....

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Butterbur at Belvoir!

Can anyone help me please as today I have stumbled upon the most intriguing plant!

It is a lovely pink flower growing upright straight out of the ground and about 8 inches high.  It is in damp conditions and happily growing alongside rodgersia and solomon's seal.  It is quite spectacular!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Spring in Lincolnshire

Sunshine at last and time to brush the cobwebs off my lens.

It has seemed so long since we worked with the sun on our backs; to be quite honest I think it was as long ago as March last year - just before the drought announcement!

The garden we worked in today will be open to the public in three weeks time, so it is all hands on deck.  All is not as it should be - compared to this time last year the plants are three weeks behind.  But with more days like today nature will soon catch up and all the plants will burst into life.  

There are some benefits to the long cold spell though, the snowdrops have lasted much longer than usual and as you can see the hellebores are still at there best.

Helleborus orientalis

Daphne mezereum

Acer Griseum with helleborus and Cornus Midwinter fire

Prunus Serrula
Beautiful mahogany bark of the Prunus Serrula

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Easter at Belvoir Castle

At last Spring has arrived - The day after Easter!

It was lovely to see so many visitors walking round the grounds, and how brave they were - it was freezing!    

These snowdrops are about the last ones still in flower but sadly the daffodils are still in tight bud waiting for some much needed warmth, so visitors didn't see us at our best!  Unfortunately with the temperatures dropping below freezing we still have the statue's protective covers on too.  

At this time of year the woodland walk should be full of camelia's in bloom; I managed to find this one gusty flower!

Our great team of volunteers have spent nearly two full days clearing up the remains of the autumn leaf fall.  All the stone steps have to be cleaned and brushed to stop the algae building up - as Belvoir is built on a steep slope this is no mean feat! 

Here is the beautiful red bark of the Acer Palmatum sango kaku which shows up so well against the blue sky.  In the background is a Betula utilis jacqumontii - a great combination for winter colour.

We should be cutting back the hydrangea's but I am going to leave it another few weeks, rather than risk any damage from the cold.

You may remember we planted over 3,000 bulbs in the autumn - all I can say is there are now some very fat squirrels at Belvoir.......  If anyone has some suggestions please let me know!

Blue sky at last!