1st May 2021

As March begins, Head Gardener Tim discusses the last few months and plans for Spring in the Abbotsford gardens.

We started the year with seasonal, wintery weather. Sustained periods of frost and coverings of snow keeping outdoor work to a minimum. The weather presented opportunities for preparing the greenhouse for forthcoming seeding sowing and plant propagation. Insulation has been installed, new capillary matting in the seed beds, pots and seed trays washed and sterilised, all in anticipation of a busy few weeks ahead. We are starting to sow some of our vegetable seeds such as cabbage and cauliflower, as well as sweet peas with varieties ‘Cupani’ and ‘King Edward VII’ been sown. We will again be sowing a large variety of annuals including Cosmos, Rudbeckia, Dahlia, Salvia, larkspur, Nicotiana and Ammi to provide a sea of colour throughout the summer and into the autumn.

Plans for a new mindfulness garden as part of Sir Walter Scott's 250th anniversary celebrations are taking shape, and we are eagerly looking forward to the opening it. Mindfulness and health and wellbeing are much talked about, especially with the ongoing covid restrictions. In creating this garden, within the Morris garden, we are aiming to provide a calming, tranquil space. A space to fill the senses with fragrance, texture and sound, allowing people to surround themselves with nature.

Other planting schemes going ahead this spring are again focused within the Morris garden with tree, shrub and perennial planting. The ornamental trees include Arbutus uneda (strawberry tree), Cercis siliquastrum (Judas tree), Pyrus calleryana (ornamental pear) and Morus nigra (black mulberry). Shrub planting to include Daphne mezereum, Hibiscus syriacus, Cornus mas and Hydrangea aspera.

The perennial planting has been selected to reflect on the gardens relationship between both wild and formal planting. Areas of the scheme including the ornamentals will form the more formal aspect. This will include Anchusa azurea, Achillea, Cirsium rivulare, Lobelia cardinalis and hellebores. Planting on the banking will form the wilder aspect of the scheme with plants such as Lythrum virgatum (loosestrife), Leucanthemum (Shasta daisy), Primula (cowslip), ferns Drotoris affinis and polystichum and shrub Rosa glauca.

Along with new planting and the start of seed sowing ongoing work within the walled garden includes fruit tree pruning, rose pruning and supporting. Also preparing the vegetable beds by turning the soil to mix in the organic matter introduced in early winter and light applications of fertilisers.

Spring bulbs have started to appear and we are hoping for a good show of crocus planted last October with the Galashiels Rotary for world polio day. The Snowdrops are forming an attractive carpet on the woodland floor and their display indicates that spring is not too far away.