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.

 

Rhododendron nobleanum

Rhododendron nobleanum

Jobs in the Garden

winter bark

Marwood Hill Garden has many trees, all of which need to be maintained. A leaf-less garden is a much easier place to assess any future tree problems, enabling us to look for weak branch unions or fungal fruiting bodies are both often signs of future failure. It is also a good time to undertake tree work, being a relatively old garden over 70 years old many trees are starting to compete for space and light, so we are having to take tough decisions as to which trees stay and which trees go.

With the help of volunteers tree work has been carried out in the old quarry area at the top of the valley, an area which has in recent years begun to look dark and oppressive. Many trees have been removed or crown lifted in this area which has allowed more light to flood into this area creating new planting opportunities alongside the existing displays of tree ferns, hellebores and Asiatic poppies.

We have also been working along the southern boundary of the garden cutting back the hazel coppice that forms the hedgerow. This job has been long overdue, the hedgerow located at the top of a steep wooded valley has poor access, so we have had to manually climb into the hedge and manually cut back by hand and chainsaw whereas the neighboring dairy farm on the other side of the fence benefit from tractor and flail attachment. This has allowed lighter and space for the camellia trees also planted in the same area.

A leafless garden has also revealed, the dreaded bramble (blackcurrant), which is running rampant across many areas of the garden, we have spent some time digging these monster plants out of the ground, some plants extending 5 metres or more in length.

Hydrangea pruning continues, this is a mammoth task as we have so many flowering hydrangeas in the garden. Most are being simply deadheaded, with old growth removed, many of the most vigorous are being cut back quite hard.

 

Tips for your Garden

  • Continue to cut back herbaceous borders
  • Division of south African bulbs such as Crocosmias and Albuca, these plants can be susceptible to winter frost and need to be moved in under glass to protect against frost
  • Last minute stimming in advance of spring bulb emergence
  • Removing brambles
  • Pruning deciduous trees
  • Formative pruning roses any time from now until March.

Plant of the month:  Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'

This AGM winning Daffodil is one of the earliest to flower in the garden. Its bright yellow flowers begin appearing in our tearoom lawn from early December which brightens up the depths of winter at a time when few plants are in flower.

early narcissus

Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation

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.

Garden Highlights

The Astilbes may have finished flowering but there is no shortage of colour. Magnificent fiery orange flowering red hot poker (Kniphofia rooperi) tower over the herbaceous beds.

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.