Head Gardener's Blog: Early Spring at Abbotsford

3rd May 2024

Head Gardener Tim shares what Abbotsford's gardening team have been up to in the busy months of early Spring.

Spring has finally arrived and the gardens are starting to bloom with splashes of colour from the Spring bulbs including Tulip 'Apricot Foxx', Tulip 'Concerto',  Tulip 'Ronaldo' and Camassia leichtlinii.

The fragrance of the early flowering shrubs, such as Viburnum × burkwoodii, with its white, pom pom flowerheads, along with Crab apple, Cherry and the mass of white apple blossom all makes for a colourful display.

Our small staff and volunteer team have been very busy recently, preparing for the coming season.

The ground has been prepared for planting many varieties of vegetables, with an emphasis on heritage varieties dating back to Sir Walter Scott’s time at Abbotsford. Varieties include Red Russian Kale- dating from 1818, Chante nay Red Cored Carrot- 1829, Cacozelia von Tripoli’s Courgette- 1826, Dark Red Brunswick Onion – 1805,  Musselburgh Leek- 1817, Hollow Crown Parsnip- 1803, Long White Icicle Radish- 1600s. More unusual additions include Early White Flat Custard Marrow- 1591 and Black Rock/Noir des Carmes Melon- 1787.

The vegetables will be accompanied by a variety of annual companion plants including Calendula, Dahlia, Cosmos, Rudbeckia, Nasturtium and Cornflower, with our team of garden volunteers helping throughout the sowing and planting process. Now there's little threat of frost, we have been able to plant out some of our seed grown vegetables including Painted Lady Runner Bean, Pea Alderman, Pea Carouby du Maussane, Pea Purple-podded and various Sweet pea plants to accompany them.

The Pavilion glass-house is now fully open to the public with a new interactive experience exploring the importance of Scott's gardens including the curiosity cabinet, activity table and listening bench. We have added plants back into the Pavilion in the form of Jasmine, Passionflower and Lilly ‘regale’ and will rotate plants throughout the summer.