Photo taken by Mark, Head Gardener- 8/12/15


Winter is coming... I think?

It’s been a while since my last post, about 3 weeks I think. But I did have a holiday sandwiched in between 2 REALLY busy weeks. Couple this with an ongoing cold that keeps knocking me out in the evenings and you have a recipe for a non-productive head gardener blog writer.

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It has in fact been an eventful few weeks, with the run up to Christmas we have been getting the grotto and nativity scene ready in the last week which has kept us all on our toes. The timing was good though. Due to the really wet weather we've all been having, it has made some work in the Arboretum almost impossible.

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Despite these frosty images I have of the Bellis in the Italian Garden and the felled Beech on Severn View, it’s really not been a frosty winter so far. I've counted about 3 or 4 medium frosts so far. This has been the trend over the last few years mind, with heavy snow as late as March and April about 3 years ago. Last year and the year before there was hardly any winter at all! Personally I think we won’t have much in the way of cold weather this winter, but the rains will continue. At least that’s my prediction from how it feels right now. This is not really a good thing in plant terms, some plants will come on too early and get hit hard if we do have frosts. Also some plants like a hard winter to bring them out of their dormancy and others need a hard frost to slow them down. So I'd much rather have the seasons back in order!

We have also been having some very strong gales, and have even had to close the Arboretum a few times, with wind speeds well into the 40mph. These were the biggest casualties...

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A very large branch came off one of our 200 year old cedars in the depths of the Arboretum and a nice Walnut that used to overlook the carpark came down altogether. Both were large enough to do some serious damage and it’s a sobering reminder of what nature can do without much notice. It also shows how important it is for us to monitor these trees and I feel lucky we took action on the large beech, as that could have easily been thrown on its side given the state of its health.

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As I mentioned we have a great looking nativity scene, here are two of the wise men showing our work in progress. I'll try and get a picture of the completed thing in the next few days. We have also been able to let out our new additions to the Arley family, the fan tailed doves and the peacocks.

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This is the doves before we took down the netting and I'm happy to confirm that they are still here and returning happily back to the Dovecot. The peacocks on the other hand tend to wander where they want!

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With the coming weeks I intend to catch up on a bit of pruning around the arboretum (with the weather being so mild and frosts coming well after Christmas I'd say it’s not a bad time to prune things like your wisteria and apple trees now). We will be moving a few trees, as it’s the perfect time to do this. Hopefully we will get some dry days, as the grass cutting has now slowed down but not stopped completely! Dispelling the myth of gardeners having quiet times over the winter!


Its safe to say that it has been a mild Autumn so far. In fact its one the warmest Novembers I can recall. Which, if it wasn't so wet, would almost be enjoyable! We had a week of real foggy weather which gave us some haunting images of the Arboretum.




It’s quite a sad thing to cut down a tree, especially one that is hundreds of years old. Some trees are destined to be felled when they reach their maximum useful size. We have pines that I wouldn't weep over being felled, that doesn't mean I'd enjoy it, however most trees that are useful for timber purposes are older than me. 




I keep harping on about it, but the colour in the trees is really starting to kick in. In fact a few of the smaller Acers are already starting to drop their leaves so if your planning a visit now is a great chance to see the contrast in trees as some are well under way and others are just about starting...