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With this cool breezy weather it’s good to focus on having some lovely indoor plants to decorate your home. Here in the castle we have our stunning Amaryllis, which will be taken up to the castle closer to Christmas, the varieties we have are ‘Aphrodite’ and ‘Apple Blossom’ with pale pink and white petals. In the nurseries and shops you should also be able to find some truly festive varieties, such as “Merry Christmas” with deep red petals, or “Miracle” a cardinal red and ‘Milady’ pale pink, some varieties will last well into the New Year with flowers lasting from 7-10 weeks!
If you prefer a more traditional look the ‘Poinsettia’ Euphorbia pulcherrima is a favourite. When buying Poinsettias check that the leaves are not rolled up or yellow, the soil should not be too wet or too dry. Poinsettias originate from the tropical highlands of Mexico, although there they grow as a flowering shrub, and so hardly recognizable as the small indoor plants we all know!
Other indoor plants we use are narcissus ‘Paperwhites’ or ‘papyraceus Ziva’ a small white headed daffodil with a wonderful scent.
What we love about this time of the year is a traditional look, it is great to use seasonal plants such as ‘Holly’ - Ilex aquifolium, one of our most important native evergreens with its glossy leaves, red berries and varied coloured leaves. They can be used to simply decorate by putting a stem or two on top of a picture frame, or to place in a wreath for the front door, the berries look wonderful in amongst the leaves, you can even brighten the wreath up with variegated variety, ‘Yew’ branches with their deep green foliage can give a dramatic effect, perhaps add the tufty seed heads of ‘old man’s beard’, otherwise known as ‘Travellers Joy’ and for a colourful contrast add rose hip or two. But please remember to leave some berries for the birds to eat!
The castle garden team have nearly finished planting over 100,000 spring bulbs and we are all really looking forward to enjoying this festive season with added bonus of waiting for our spring Tulip Festival to begin in April.
Traditionally every year a ‘Norway Spruce’ Christmas Tree is donated by His Grace, The Duke of Norfolk for Arundel Town. The trees are gown and felled here on the estate by the foresters, it’s usually around 22 feet high! The tree stands proud in the centre of the town square and is erected by the foresters and the Arundel Rotary in time for Advent. To accompany the tree there are many smaller Christmas trees hung high up on the wonderful old buildings of Arundel, at night it is simply magical with just white lights showing you the way through the town, year on year more trees are hung giving Arundel a unique traditional feel, well worth a visit.
We are often asked about what to look for when choosing a Christmas Tree, and these days there are so many varieties available it is hard to decide on a type and so here are a few tips to just help you choose a good tree:
Firstly decide where you will display your tree, measure the area so you can decide on its height and width, remembering to allow for a base and not forgetting to leave room to put a decoration on the top!
The Christmas tree’s freshness is key, trees should have a good pine fragrance and attractive all round colour.
You can double check by holding a branch (about six inches from the tip) between your thumb and forefinger, then pull your hand towards you allowing the branch to slip through your fingers gently, if only a few the needles fall off in your hand then it’s fresh.
Alternatively you can bump the base of the tree on the ground to see if lots of needles fall off, if they don’t it’s fresh.
To keep your Christmas tree fresh place it in a sturdy base that can hold water and top up regularly as you would a vase of fresh flowers.
A few tips from the Arundel Castle garden team:
· Last chance to fleece and cover plants, before the very cold snaps come
· Remember to feed your birds during cold weather, keep bird baths and ponds ice free.
· Continue winter digging, add mulch and avoid walking on wet soil.
· Leave a few small piles of leaves for hedgehogs.
· Spray fruit trees and roses with tar oil winter wash
· Insulate outside taps and pipes
For further information on Arundel Castle and next year’s opening times, events go to www.arundelcastle.org.
Wishing You A Happy Christmas and New Year from the Arundel Castle Team!
Arundel Castle and Gardens will be open 2nd April - 3rd November 2019