Now is a great time to take a walk across Marwood Hill Garden, the floral scent is phenomenal. The weather has been amazing this past week. Blue skies, sun, and warmth. Let us hope it continues into the Easter weekend. Flowers are sprouting up across the garden in a colour explosion. With no frost to worry about, the magnolias have put on a great display with an eruption of pinks, purples, and whites across the garden, contrasting well with the whites, reds, and pinks of the late flowering Camellias.

Jimmy Smart (the garden creator) really spared no expense when planting extensive and impressive drifts of daffodil across the garden, encompassing every conceivable shade of yellow you can imagine. They really are worth a look. Larger trumpet type daffodils in the lawns and under trees, and smaller alpine type daffodils, such as Narcissus bulbocodium and ‘Tete a Tete’ planted in the scree beds.

The scree beds are looking very cheerful, like a bright and colourful patterned carpet, planted with small red flowering Tulipa clusiana, purple grape hyacinth and yellow dwarf daffodils and pale yellow primroses.

Small colonies of Snake’s Head Fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris) are planted directly opposite the garden entrance kiosk and are proving to be a favourite with our regular garden visitors.

Daffodils 3Daffodils 2daffodil display

Daffodils in drifts

 Matt Magnolia

 Early flowering Magnolia (and Matt!)

Jobs in the Garden


Fixed silt trapIf you follow the path down below the Garden Tearoom towards the upper lake and head for the metal bridge, you may notice an opening up of the area. The old silt trap just above the waterfall where the stream first enters the garden has been emptied creating a new attractive pool feature. Water cascades from this pool to the stream bed below which then runs under the metal bridge. The stream has been cleared and widened and part of the lake shore has been relandscaped to create a pleasing spit of land jutting out into the lake, that will hopefully be planted up before the winter.   







                    Oliver in Quarry
The winter tasks of pruning and hedge cutting have come to an end (thank goodness). Halted by leaf growth and bird nesting season. The last few shrubs and climbers have been tackled including Clematis, Sambucus, Fuschia, Hypericum, Sarcococca (Japanese Box). We have also been cutting back coloured stem shrubs such as Dogwoods (Cornus) and Willows (Salix). Oliver our garden volunteer, who likes to throw himself at the very hardest jobs has also braved the crumbling quarry garden rock face by removing all the brambles and weed from the wall which has resulted in completing the revamp of the quarry area.                                                   




Two large dogwoods, Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’ and Cornus alba ‘Siberica’ which have not been cut back in 30 odd years, have now been tackled. This is important because regular pruning encourages brighter stem colour. These monster shrubs were planted on a very precarious slope and have since rooted into the lake beds and grown out nearly halfway across the lower lake.

Our popular herbaceous beds, are being cut back, cleared, and weeded. This is in advance of all the new growth emerging. Now is a good time to get plant supports set up in place for taller perennials in need of support. The double boarders have been partially replanted this year, with a new selection of plants, in keeping with the blue, silver and white theme.

Another ongoing job, which we began in March, is striming. Much of the land Marwood Hill Garden was planted upon, began life as rough grass pasture grazed by sheep. When the young trees and shrubs were initially planted the grass beneath was routinely cut back to reduce competition on the young plants. The trees have grown and are now mature but the practice of striming beneath continues, keeping any brambles and weed seedlings at bay. Striming is a big job and needs to be repeated up to three times across the year.

Cutting back the Bog Garden has begun in earnest. The streamside planting is cut back and weeded. The central island within the Bog Garden has become rather tired and overrun by a rampant Aster species. It has been cut back hard and will be weeded in preparation for planting up in the autumn/ winter.


Gardening Achievements


Lin Dry Stone Walling
It is almost exactly a year since we made the tough decision to furlough our garden staff, (although they did come back for a period in late summer). We are really pleased to welcome back our two gardeners. They have a lot of work to crack on with before we open on 14th April. They have both been sent straight into deep end, with heavy jobs and have done so gladly. Tough tasks such as spreading chip on Marwood’s extensive paths and even some dry-stone walling in herbaceous border area.






Tips for your Garden

  • Pricking out seedlings and potting on cuttings
  • Begin weeding. Get them now while small and easy to remove before more of a problem later. Lesser Celandine, chickweed, cleavers, nettles, watercress are problems in the garden. Though do leave some of these plants for benefit of wildlife in corners of garden if possible.
  • Pond weed treatment for ponds.
  • Clearing out cold frames and hardening plants off.
  • Now is an ideal time to divide many herbaceous perennials just as or before the active growth emerges. Including perennial geraniums, Michaelmas daisies (Symphyotrichum), stonecrops (Hylotelephium), Crocosmia and Campanula.
  • Removing old fronds from deciduous ferns
  • Now the risk of frost has past start deadheading hydrangea flowerheads, as new flower buds appear so new blooms can be better admired.

Plant of the month:  Magnolia loebneri ‘Merrill’

A stunning white magnolia, Magnolia loebneri ‘Merrill’ located outside the tearoom, is currently in full flower. One of the earliest trees planted in the garden in 1960. This award-winning magnolia is covered in large white fragrant flowers. It is a cross of Magnolia kobus and Magnolia stellata and named after Prof. Elmer Merrill, a former Director of the Arnold Arboretum, Boston, USA.   Raised in 1939. It grows slowly and is a small magnolia so is a good choice for a small garden.

 Magnolia loebneri Merrill

           Magnolia loebneri ‘Merrill’ outside the Garden Tearoom

As I write this month’s blog, the sun is streaming in through the window. The garden is very spring like, a small colony of white and purple crocus have colonized the tearoom lawn. Snowdrops and hellebores which are still flowering but will soon give way to the masses of daffodils that are spread across the garden. Camellias are in full bloom in shades of red, pink, and white and the magnolias are covered in fat flower buds promising a good display in the next few months. There is an air of optimism in the garden with many local residents and garden volunteers having already received their first vaccinations, so there is a feeling of real positivity and that normality is just round the corner.

November to mid-February, is an ideal time to look at tree work in the garden. With leaves removed the branch structure of a tree can be better accessed and with most bulbs and herbaceous perennials lying dormant and protected under the ground, falling branches can do little damage. Conifers put on a new flush of growth in April and deciduous trees tend to lie dormant in the winter months, with sap only again beginning to rise from mid-February onwards. which makes it an ideal time to prune trees.

With the leaves having fallen from the trees, the bones of the garden have now been revealed. The bright white bark of the birch and eucalyptus are very striking and many of the smooth-barked magnolias are covered with a wide diversity of lichen in an array of interesting colours, white, grey, orange, blue, green and yellow. Some flowers persist including early flowering Camellias and Rhododendrons which are starting to show, flashes of pink, white and red. The white bell flowers of Leucojum (Spring Snowflake) and early daffodils can also be seen emerging from the woodland floor.

November has been a quiet month. The November national lockdown meant that holiday makers and visitors to our gardens all but disappeared, despite this we felt it was important to keep the garden open to provide a place for people to get a bit of fresh air and recreation.

It’s October and despite the rather wet weather the trees are still putting on a good show. An explosion of colour has erupted from Marwood’s woodland canopy. Flame-like reds and oranges, cooler lemon-yellows vie for attention against the richer, buttery tones. Trees that have been quite indistinguishable during spring and summer suddenly draw attention.

Wow what a busy month!!! This September has been an unusually busy month. Traditionally September would be a quieter time in the garden, when we see fewer visitors, as summer holidays end and the new school year begins. This year has been quite different. Children may have gone back to school, but much to our delight, garden visitors have continued to come to explore Marwood. Which has allowed us to show off the late summer highlights in the garden.

It has been several months since I have sat down and written the Head Gardener’s Blog. That is not to say when lockdown happened Marwood completely stopped, far from it.

Regrettably like other businesses many of our staff were furloughed. At the time of lockdown all the hard work had been done and our plant centre was full of a fantastic range of plants ready for sale and the garden was looking immaculate. After a week of trading the door was duly shut again (mid March). Despite this’ always keen to focus on the positive’ the Marwood Team viewed lockdown as an opportunity. It was the ideal time for us to set up the Online Shop. Boxes were sourced, couriers were chosen, and the Online Shop was developed. Much needed income started to flow into the business.

Take a tour of Marwood Hill Gardens in April 2020

If you go down in the woods today.......

Spring has finally reached the garden. Marwood is now dotted with pink, reds and whites. The early flowering Magnolia, Camellia and Rhododendron are blooming across the garden. The richly perfumed pale pink Magnolia sprengeri. The dark pink cabbage sized flowers of Magnolia campbellii subsp. Mollicomata are looking amazing, contrasting well with the nearby magnolia purple-pink flowered Magnolia ‘Charles Raffill'. Salix gracilistyla 'Mount Aso' is looking resplendent, with its bright red winter shoots above its pink and silver fluffy male catkins (available for sale). Look out for early spring flowering herbaceous perennials such as strikingly blue daisy like Anemone blanda and dark blue flowering Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’.

After four successive storms Atiyah, Brendan, Ciara and Dennis, three large trees have failed in the garden. One large Eucalyptus has fallen into the upper lake, with two other trees coming down in the bog garden and folly area. Many branches and detritus litter the garden. The tree surgeons made clever use of a small boat and a winch to remove the eucalyptus from the top lake and the garden team have been busy clearing fallen branches and logs away. With so many fallen trees, much space has been created for new planting opportunities.

February is here, bringing with it the prospect of lighter evenings, much to the relief of the garden team. We are however not out of the woods yet; the continuing battle with the wet weather which has fully saturated the garden and the threat of frost is still a very real possibility.

Early flowering Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ was the first bulb to emerge throughout the garden followed quickly by snowdrops, Hellebores and most recently Leucojum vernum (Spring snowflake). Early flowering Camellias, Rhododendron nobleanum and R. ‘Christmas Cheer’ have provided splashes of purple, pink, white and red.

My Name is Matthew Brewer, I have recently taken on the role of head gardener at Marwood Hill Gardens.

In all honesty, before last June, I had never heard of this garden but for a chance visit to Marwood whilst holidaying with my family. Upon entering the garden we naturally headed for the tearoom. Halfway through a ginger scone, an impromptu interview with the Garden Manager and my fate was sealed. Before joining Marwood I was working as a woodland Horticulturalist at RHS garden Harlow Carr in Yorkshire, together with a hardy band of volunteers clearing and developing its woodland.