Blossoms and bulbs

If there’s one thing we can count on our garden volunteers for, it’s getting out there come rain or shine to keep Winterbourne looking its very best.

Volunteer Deborah reflects on her favourite moments with us earlier this year – plus her favourite things to look out for in the garden. As you visit Winterbourne this spring, take a moment to slow down and appreciate the fruits of her labour.

I have been volunteering at Winterbourne since July 2023. Every time I drive into the grounds and put on my gardening boots, I feel my worries leave me as I hear the birds singing and sense the peace of my surroundings. I am happy to be working outdoors come rain or shine.

This February, one of the main jobs to tackle was to mulch an area under the famous Nut Walk, the Corylus avellana having been pruned and tied into the framework. This was a labour-intensive job which took the gardeners three days to complete! The Galanthus nivalis were just starting to peep through and, by putting a layer of compost down, the delicate white flowers are shown off to their full effect.

Another area that was mulched was a circle around the dipping pool where hyacinths that had been in pots last year had been planted in the ground. These produced beautiful blooms, the scent of which could be smelt upon the breeze upon entering the Walled Garden. Their blue colour was especially attractive to bumble bees looking for early sources of nectar.

I always enjoy walking around the garden and noticing the changes from week to week and making a special note of plants that catch my eye. The borders with Narcissus, Hellebores and Euphorbia amygdaloides var. Robbiae have been especially attractive. I love the bright green-yellow of the flower of the latter plant, which is in fact a pseudanthia – a ‘false flower’ termed a cyathium.

Lovely displays of Iris reticulata and Narcissus bulbocodium ‘Arctic Bells’ (Hooped petticoat daffodil) had been strategically positioned around the garden. Another bulb that caught my attention in one of the glasshouses were two cultivars of Ipheion uniflorum, namely, ‘Rolf Fiedler’ and ‘Alberto Castillo’. The foliage has an onion-like scent when crushed and the stem bears a solitary, honey-scented flower. For early blossom, Chaenomeles species which are espaliered against the hothouse wall never fail to disappoint, producing a delicate flower borne in clusters.

The little tree Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ in the Alpine Garden is notable for its early blossom and assures us that spring is on the way. It is a slow-growing, early white-flowering cherry tree. It gets its scientific name from the deep incisions on the leaves which give good autumnal colour. But first, let’s enjoy all that this season has to offer.