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Wintery garden shrubs frost

Notes from Newby's Newbie

In Gardens

Written by Phil Cormie, head gardener, Newby Hall and Gardens

The winter months are a great opportunity to look back over the gardening year, reminisce about the flowering spectacle you have witnessed and look forward to the promised show of the following year.

Phil as photographed by: Charlotte Graham Photography

It is a great time of year to stroll around the garden and place the garden rooms at Newby under the microscope to see what has worked, refine planting combinations, and decide whether the plants are in keeping with the character of that garden room. These observations will shape future decisions in the garden with some work taking place immediately and other work being part of the longer management plan for the garden. It is something I would recommend you do in your own garden, gardens are ever changing and dynamic with plants constantly pushing the boundaries of their allocated planting space.

It is often the busiest time of year for the gardeners, with the winter jobs list ever increasing. The remaining fallen leaves are removed from beds and footpaths, processed through the leaf shredder and either fired back onto the beds for a nutritious mulch around the plants or collected for leaf mould. The leaf mould is collected in bays by our potting shed and is a valuable commodity in the horticulture world. A valuable base for any potting compost mix and something I would encourage you to collect at home. Regularly turning your leaf mould bay helps to break it down quicker as well as giving you a reason to get out of the house during the winter months.

The herbaceous border at Newby is finally cut down in January, a monumental task which takes the gardeners a few weeks to complete. Although the flowers have long disappeared, we resist cutting the border down in October as the seed heads provide wonderful structure and drama during the autumn and winter months. 

The yew hedges are being given their yearly trim, a monumental task which takes two of our team the best part of four months to complete. The yew hedges provide a wonderful backdrop or canvas for the floral spectacle going on in front of them as well as providing shelter around some of our garden rooms. The hedges hide the garden rooms and their floral treats within, enhancing the mystery and excitement. Sylvia’s Garden is the perfect example of this; the hedge envelops the surrounds of the garden helping to create a feeling of tranquillity for the garden viewer. The romance of Sylvia’s garden is reflected in the pale pinks and soft yellows of the planting scheme; the yew backdrop helps to show off these delicate colours.

It really is a busy time of year for us with new footpaths being laid, specimen trees being maintained, phase two of our rock garden restoration, seed sowing and dahlia propagation…the gardeners have a busy few month ahead of them!



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