Every year, towards the end of March, the heron glides down into the glades of the new woodland to the west of the castle. He returned this week during the first cut of the longer grass. Unmoving, all-seeing, like a piece of statuary, with the reason for his visits his own safely kept secret. Is the sound of the mower his summoning call?
Sweet peas, Cleome, Rudbeckia, Nicotiana mutabilis, tomatoes and leeks are amongst the first seeds to be sown. They are germinating now in the rustic glasshouse – a glasshouse that is the sole remaining fragment of the garden’s original lean-to structure which was on the wall of the sunny side of Gardener’s and Chauffeur’s cottages. A photograph from the early 1900s captures the long, pristine glasshouse, and soil in the nearby vegetable garden is still full of shards of its broken panes that will continue telling the story to gardeners of the future.
On sunny and breezy days, the hoe is busy. Small annual weeds have their brief lives cut short as they are upturned in beds and borders. It’s the best use of time in late March, although other things must take precedent, because dedicated hoeing now saves work in early May when time is even more precious. The hoe I use is a relic from an Aberdeenshire garden and the days of Lady Aberdeen; I used it there, as did the head gardener before me, and now I use it here.
Nine young Prunus x yedoensis are in full bloom, most of them visible from the bog garden. The Yoshino cherry, as it is informally known, has flowers of pink or silky grey, depending on their backdrop and the colour of the sun, shade and air. I first saw this tree at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, and vowed to plant as many specimens as I could during my gardening life in the hope of leaving behind a quiet trail of cherry blossom for others to adore.
Wednesday 29th March 2017