Great Expectations

First garden blog of the year and I am counting my blessings on such a lovely day. How lucky am I, first of all to have a beautiful drive through County Down’s answer to the Dark Hedges, and then to arrive in my ‘office’ at Mount Stewart, surrounded by spring colour of rhododendrons, tulips, lobster claw, camellias, primulas (you can see I’m not the Latin name expert) and the first swallows swooping around the North Portico.

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At last our weather forecasters have turned up the dry side of the stone, and with it a bit of softer air and even some heat. Just enough to start our plants ‘springing’ into life. Gunneras are about three feet high, the yuccas are in bud, and with azaleas and cherries and the odd pheasant joining the rhodies to create a wonderfully coloured backdrop to the grounds, cameras were out in force. Visitors today were from Austria, thrilled with the Congress of Vienna chairs, and from Australia, surprised to see our eucalyptus trees. Others from Oxfordshire, Kilrea and Bangor enjoyed the sunshine and warmth of the courtyard.

This morning, Head Gardener Neil inspired us all with his plans for this year’s planting. The invasive Rhododendron Ponticum has been culled and beds have been prepared to receive new plants from Alan’s nursery. Neil showed us the green leaves of the new Cardiocrinum Giganteum plants that had been grown from seed over the last five years. These will turn into huge 6ft high blooms and will look spectacular as only Giant Lilies can.

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Our hard-working gardeners have been planting like mad to fill the formal beds with all sorts of beautiful bloomers.

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Gemma and Joan, members of the Thursday Gang,  working hard doing a bit of weeding, making room for more plants. The Bothy Motto – see a space, plant a plant. I’m keeping an eye on our Columbian Oreopanax incisus growing to about 4ft tall, white flowers, Italian Garden, roll on summertime.

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In the meantime, our beautiful mauve-blue Susan rhodie will keep me happy, isn’t it gorgeous?

Ellen

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