The month before any garden opens to the public can be something of a ‘silly season’ for any gardener. Priorities have to be set and the amount of manpower and time to be devoted to each task has to be carefully balanced and set against often competing demands. Now is the time for detail such as fine pruning of trees and shrubs or raking out the leaves which have been blown about by winter winds. Our motto here is to never leave an area unless it is complete.
Nevertheless there are huge compensations at this time of year. Between the beginning of March and the first Sunday in April, when the garden opens for the season, there has been a huge burgeoning of new growth. This has of course been helped by the generally mild conditions this winter, storms not withstanding, but as we pass the vernal equinox the increasing light levels are like a starting pistol for plants.
The winter storms have done much clearing in the garden and surrounding woodland into which we intend to spread more specimen trees, including magnolias, in the future. This will preserve the naturalistic style of the garden and the existing mature oaks and beeches will shelter new plantings.
The magnolias are the prelude to a symphony of flowering trees and shrubs. Where they lead cherries soon follow including ‘Kursar’, ‘Accolade’ and ‘Shirote’. In Japan they are rightly revered as a reminder of the passage of time and the transient nature of life. For us at Hodnet more mundane concerns muscle in on the esoteric. After all there is mowing to be done!