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At Arundel Castle we have one of the most exceptional Tulip Festivals, with impressive displays of tulips and spring flowering plants in the country. It was exciting to have Dutch visitors coming over especially to see the tulips at Arundel, a very different setting to Keukenhof!
The Tulip Festival has approximately 60,000 tulips with 120 different named ones, planted throughout the castle gardens and grounds, showing how versatile tulips can be in any garden or landscape. On the castle steep banks there’s a combination of white ‘Thalia’ narcissi with red ‘Apeldoorn’ tulips, and in the grounds we also have swathes of ‘Golden Apeldoorn’ and ‘Purple Dream’ tulips, abundance of narcissi, snakeshead fritillaries, and lots of natural primroses. We have the first ever known labyrinth of tulips, positioned in the Earl’s Garden using 14,000 ‘red Apeldoorn’ and ‘ile de France’ tulips.
Over the centuries tulips have been cultivated so well that we are confident there is a variety to suit all tastes at Arundel Castle, whether you like the fussy parrot types such as ‘Black Parrott’ with its unusual flower shape and colour, or the to the graceful lily-flowered ones such as ‘Ballerina’ or ‘White Triumphator’, for a really natural look ‘Spring Green’ are beautiful planted in a border with herbaceous plants, but if you just want to dazzle your neighbours plant up some pots with vibrant ‘Olympic Flame’ or ‘Spryng’ this is a new cross between a ‘Darwin Hybrid’ and a ‘Triumph tulip’, it has strong stems with huge long lasting flowers, white with red flames. My personal favourite is the very subtle pink double late peony- flowered tulip ‘Angelique’.
In The Collector Earl’s Garden, officially opened by HRH Prince of Wales in 2008, has the enormous terracotta pots filled with the beautiful ‘Pink Impression’ accompanied by ‘Crown Imperials and ‘Forget-Me-Nots’.
Within the Cut Flower Garden we have a combination of mixed tulips planted alongside the Victorian Vine House and an array of dazzling pots showing the diverse varieties of tulips available; whilst in the English Herbaceous Borders we have planted the soft and subtle toned tulips. In The Stumpery we have multiflowering and specie tulips for something more unusual, along with other spring flowering plants placed in amongst the ancient stumps, giving this area a mystical and exciting woodland feel.
The Wildflower Garden has an amazing, colourful and unusual spectacle with 14,000 ‘Daily News mixed tulips’ such as ‘Passionale’, ‘Mistress’, ‘Paul Scherer’ and ‘Bastogne’, all surrounding the thatched Roundhouse.
TULIP HISTORY IS FACINATING!
Tulip history is fascinating as it’s filled with intrigue, skulduggery, broken hearts and instant fortunes made on a stock exchange. The first known “Tulipmania” was in Turkey during the time of Suleiman I, commonly known as Suleiman the Magnificent in the west and "Kanuni" in his realm (1520-1566) when tulips were cultivated and developed for the Sultan and his entourage. Later during the reign of Ahmed III (1703-1730), was the period known as “The Age of the Tulip” as they were highly prized as a symbol of great wealth and prestige. During this time the first known Tulip Festival was held at night during a full moon, hundreds of vases were filled with stunning tulips, lanterns were used to cast enchanting light over the gardens, all guests had to wear colours which harmonised with the tulips.
By the 1630’s tulips became hugely sought after as a symbol of wealth and prosperity and became prized possessions of Emperors, Kings, Queens, Royals and Aristocracy. Due to the huge price of the tulips mirrors were used in gardens to give the illusion that the owner had many more than they actually had!
Dutch businessman realised the potential in trading the bulbs as they were reaching very high prices which between 1636 and 1637 started the Dutch Tulipomania, where a single bulb could be sold for the same price as house in a good area of Amsterdam, the tulip literally being worth more than its weight in gold, or seven years wages for a skilled carpenter! Fortunately tulip bulbs today are far more affordable and always give a magnificent show.
Plant Fair – Arundel Castle’s first ever plant fair will be held on 29th April, within the castle grounds, it will consist of local Sussex and Kent nurseries, this fair is for garden enthusiasts to view and to purchase a wide range of plants for their gardens and at the same time they will be able to view the whole of Arundel Castle’s landscape and gardens. There will gardeners on hand to answer those never ending questions, whether it’s for your vegetable garden, lawns or simply where best to place you newly acquired plant!
A few tips from the castle garden team:
· Sow or turf new lawns
· Cut your existing lawns regularly and feed
· Stake tall growing perennials such as Delphiniums
· Continue sowing and planting vegetables outdoors
· Watch out for slugs & snails
· When the weather is dry ensure you water newly planted trees or shrubs
· Watch out for lily beetles
· Sow annual wildflower seeds to attract beneficial insects and bees throughout the summer months.
Arundel Castle & Gardens are open Tuesdays to Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, for full details on events, ticket prices and discounts go to www.arundelcastle.org