News from our Head Gardener

 Allium Extravaganza at Arundel Castle

May is one of the busiest and most exciting times of the year for the Arundel Castle garden team. The amazing Alliums are popping open all over the gardens, signalling the start of our Allium Extravaganza, with thousands of stunning alliums coming into flower for our gardeners and visitors to enjoy.
In recent years, alliums have become very popular. They’re part of the onion family and can add so much fun and subtle colour to any garden. We have an enormous variety of cultivars, chosen for their shape, colour and heights, planted in a number of areas in the Castle gardens and grounds. It shows our visitors just how versatile and elegant they can be in any setting.
In the Fitzalan Chapel White Garden, ‘Cowanii’, a very pretty allium with a small white flower head is a charming contrast to the aptly named ‘Mont Blanc’, which has large ball-shaped heads of creamy white flowers.
In the traditional English Herbaceous Border, we have ‘Purple Rain’ and ‘Gladiator’, with long stems and purple flower heads. The ‘Christophii’, with their beautiful large amethyst coloured flower heads, give the impression of hot air balloons floating above the English lavender in the Cut Flower Garden.
‘Mount Everest’, contrary to its name, is not the highest variety, but does have very large white flowers. ‘Round and Purple’ have the largest bloom, with enormous purple heads. An unusual allium we have planted is ‘Nectaroscordum Siculum Bulgaricum’, with bell-like flowers that are white with a dark brown-red centre.
In the Stumpery Garden I have used ‘Allium ursinum’, commonly known as wild garlic. This is a low-level pretty white allium and it’s often smelled well before its seen, with its very distinctive garlic aroma. It can be found in shady moist woodland across the British countryside.
Alliums have a fascinating history. The onion (allium) originated from Asia hundreds of centuries ago and was very popular with the Egyptians for its culinary qualities. When Asian trade routes opened up, they were traded from the Middle East into Europe. So, from ancient humble beginnings to their award winning international acclaim, alliums have become both a culinary and horticultural sensation that will look lovely in any garden.
To complement the tones of the Allium Extravaganza, we have added thousands of ‘Dutch Iris’, especially next to the Thatched Roundhouse in the Wildflower Garden. Outside the walled gardens, in the apple orchard, we have planted beautiful blue and white ‘Camassias’ which look lovely in the natural landscape.
The Organic Kitchen Garden is being frantically planted up. There’s a lot to look at, with vegetable seedlings being directly sown and plug plants being planted. The sweet peas have all been planted out and are rapidly growing up the hazel archways. The tulips are now over and other plants such as the stunning ‘Agapanthus’, already in flower, ‘Lupins’ and ‘Delphiniums’ are taking their place.

A few tips from the Castle Garden Team:

·         Make sure your newly planted trees, shrubs and lawns are well watered.

·         Cut lawns weekly, in alternate directions each week.

·         Look out for those pesky scarlet Lily Beetles, which will devour all your lilies if left unchecked!

·         If you haven’t already done so, near to the end of the month is a good time to lightly cut your box hedging (Buxus).

·         Direct sow French and runner beans.

·         Pinch out the tops of your broad beans when they flower to discourage blackfly.

·         Tuck straw under your strawberries to protect the fruits from lying on the ground and rotting later on.

·         Earth up your potatoes.

Happy Gardening!

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