News from our Head Gardener

  • Chilli peppers drying in the Victorian Vine House Chilli peppers drying in the Victorian Vine House
  • Fan-trained pears in the Organic Kitchen Garden Fan-trained pears in the Organic Kitchen Garden
  • Juicy apples in the garden Juicy apples in the garden
  • Tamarillo Tomatoes Tamarillo Tomatoes

 Turning up the heat at Arundel Castle

In our Victorian Vine House we have a display of wonderful chillies; these vary in colour and shape and can certainly turn up the heat when added to some dishes! Just on reading the names one gets a clue as to how hot they might be, but we do recommend that you get to know your chillies before adding them to your cooking. Here are some wonderful names of chillies: Apache, Habanero, Hungarian Hot Wax, Prairie Fire, Numex Twilight, Trinidad perfume and Cayenne Gold to name but a few!

The heat of a chilli is measured in Scoville Units; this varies from zero, in the case of sweet peppers, to one million for the Dorset Naga Chilli!!  Currently Arundel Castle’s hottest chillies are the Scotch Bonnet and Orange Habanero! Two enthusiastic teenagers, a couple years ago, decided they would challenge each other to a tasting without permission. We took sympathy after a few firm words and filled their water bottles again which had been gulped down! I am sure they will think twice before trying such an antic again!  In the Victorian Vine House we have a display of chillies in pots as well as a colourful seed pod display, these are drying out for next year.

History: Chillies were first introduced to Europe from South America in 1493, by Christopher Columbus and today there are over 1,700 varieties of chillies registered worldwide. When ripe they have six times more vitamin C than an orange, but not for the faint hearted! 

Throughout the organic kitchen garden there’s an abundance of fruit and vegetables, we are harvesting our apples and pears. The last of our potatoes have been harvested and being stored for the winter months.

Some of our more unusual and edible plants to see are the ‘Tree Tomatoes’ or ‘Tamarillo’ in The Collector Earl’s Garden in the tropical borders. They are about 7 feet tall and have very attractive fruits dangling from the branches, which are ripening, the fruits can be eaten fresh by cutting it in half, made into jam or as I used to do in Africa bite the top off and squeeze the juice into my mouth.

Originally grown in South America, Bolivia and northeastern Argentina, it successfully progressed to become a commercially grown crop in New Zealand. It’s easily propagated from seeds and requires frost-free conditions.  Our Tamarillo trees are overwintered in the Polytunnels and only brought out in the summer. The ripe fruits are ideal for jams, jellies, chutneys, syrups and sauces.  They can also be cooked and added to soup and stews.  The fruit is an excellent source of vitamins A, B6, C and E.

A few tips from the castle garden team:

·         Keep an eye on any potatoes & apples you store, as one rotting one can set off the rest!

·         Keep working the hoe between rows of veg whilst the weeds are actively growing.

·         Propagation of currant bushes can begin from now onwards; take six to nine inch cuttings and insert them in to a deep nick in the soil made with a spade.

·         Runner and late French beans are still in season.  Harvest them before the pods get stringy.

·         Plant out young spring cabbage and seedling cauliflowers.

·         Earth up any leeks required for early use and give them a good liquid manure feed.

·         Dry herbs or preserve them for cooking.

·         Lawns: mow less, remove thatch, scarify then aerate with a fork or you can hire a machine, top dress and reseed worn out patches, apply an autumn feed, this is a good time to seed or turf a new lawn area.

·         Prepare your ground for planting bare rooted plants next month.

·         This is a great time to plant new perennials, but ensure you water before and after planting, plunge your pots into a bucket of water before planting.

·         Cut down and divide any perennials that have stopped flowering and look unsightly.

Happy Gardening!

Arundel Castle and Gardens are open Tuesday to Sunday until Sunday, 28th October, for times and prices visit or telephone 01903 882173/ (+44 1903 882173), Email:

Cat in hat