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.


 Hellebore flowering in February

Jobs in the Garden

Tree work in the garden has continued apace and now having accrued a large amount of wood chip we will be able to spread fresh bark chip across our many paths to mop up the last of the winter wet. As well as continuing to cut back flowerbeds, we have begun mulching, hopefully reducing the frequency that we will need to revisit the beds to weed. The astilbe beds have been cut back and covered in a good layer of compost, so the middle lake area is beginning to look very sharp.

Now is a good time to prune roses. Rose leaves have yet to emerge in February, so it is clear to see what needs to be done, and it will not be long before they enter active growth so any pruning cut made will heal quickly. A great deal of attention is being focused on the beds within the Walled Garden. Many of these beds in time have become quite overgrown and by hard pruning many trees and shrubs we have been able to bring light into these areas. The hope being, we can plant many more interesting and attractive climbing plants along the sun baked walls. The popular red flowering Abutilon ‘Patrick Synge’, located at the entrance of the Plant Sales Shed, which always receives so much admiration. The abutilon, together with a climbing hydrangea, have benefited from last year’s mild winter have grown excessively and have received a long-awaited haircut.

Abutilon Patrick SyngeAbutilon Patrick Synge pruned

           Abutilon ‘Patrick Synge 

 before pruning....

....  after pruning 










Gardening Achievements

It’s important to thank the many individuals who have kindly dedicated so much of their time and effort to help us keep Marwood looking good in advance of the new season. A big thanks to Carol Jones who has tirelessly braved the winter wet and cold to tidy up the garden entrance beds running along the lane at the top of the garden. Also, thanks to Susan Parker, who has spent so much time potting in Marwood’s Potting Shed, devoting her time to plant propagation.

Carol Jones volunteerSue Parker volunteer



Carol Jones







                                                     Sue Parker






Finally, a huge thanks you toMiklos Csanyi, who as a volunteer and member of the garden team has helped us complete many prominent garden tasks such as pruning the Marwood’s Wisteria Arch, pruning various roses and shrubs across the site. Miklos has been a very popular member of Marwood’s team and has recently accepted a role as gardener at Abbotts Ripon Hall in Cambridgeshire and we wish him much success in the future.

Miklos Csanyi volunteer

Miklos Csanyi

Tips for your Garden

  • Mulching borders before spring flowering bulbs and herbaceous perennials emerge.
  • Rose pruning
  • Good time to cut back ornamental grasses
  • Start to think about getting the lawnmower out to give the first grass cut of the year.

Plant of the month:  Rhododendron sutchuenense

The Szechwan rhododendron is native to Western China and is one of the earliest and hardiest of the flowering Rhododendrons at Marwood. It has large trusses of very vibrant mauve or magenta flowers above equally large leaves, making it stand out from anything else planted in this area. This large shrub is planted a sloping bank between the Folly and the Scented Arbor.  

 Rhododendron sutchuenense2Rhododendron sutchuenense3
Rhododendron sutchuenense

                                   Rhododendron sutchuenense

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.