Wet winter at Herstmonceux Castle 2020
As we near opening our gardens and grounds for you in 2020, it’s that time of year when we give you a little insight into the work that has been going on behind the scenes.
This autumn and winter have been notably wetter than most which understandably brings challenges for a gardens and grounds team, although character building it has provided us with the opportunity to spend some much-needed time in the potting sheds and polytunnels. With the completion of our usual seasonal tasks such as trimming of hedges, pruning of roses, wisteria, trees and shrubs not forgetting the monumental task of leaf clearance.
In the gardens (whilst avoiding torrential rain storms) we have been planting of 12,500 bulbs and bedding plants using a mix of Tulips (Tulipa) ‘mango charm’, ‘peaceful pastels’, ‘white prince’, ‘have a pleasant dream’, Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) ‘Pink Pearl’ and Grape Hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum), all planted amongst a continual carpet of blue forget me nots (Myosotis Sylvestris). These planting combinations should provide a vibrant mix of pastels all the way from March through to May.
We will be working towards the completion of a new garden formerly known as the ‘Japanese garden’. It has been inaccessible during 2019 whilst we have waged war on the bamboo. However, we hope during the early part of spring to have the project well under way forming a brick courtyard with a central octagonal pond and bordered by espalier pears and herbaceous perennial planting. The design concept of the garden is to embrace the materials and architecture of the castle reminiscent of the derelict period of the castle during the early twentieth century.
On the wider estate this will be our first year managing the large expanses of grassland as wildflower and hay meadow. However, this is a much more involved process than the team simply stopping mowing, we have been busy grazing, seed harvesting, scarifying and sowing to give these meadows the best chance of establishing and becoming as diverse as possible. We are doing this to improve the biodiversity of the flora and fauna over the estate and will hopefully be very easy on the eye from June – August.
You will also find that the ponds (Red lily and Folly) have been sensitively coppiced to encourage a dappled shade over the ponds and improved views, especially looking across the water to the Folly.
Not forgetting our younger visitors and families, we are in the process of constructing a new natural play area which should be completed by late spring. Located close to Chestnuts tearoom, replacing the old play area that was located at the top of the drive. The activities will be built to channel children’s creativity, imagination and adventure with obstacles created from local, natural products.
Chestnuts Tea Room is having a full refurbishment and will open on the 15th February. Visitors can expect a refreshed look and feel, new POS till point with wave and pay technology, new menus focusing on our famous afternoon and cream teas. New food options include hot & cold specials, homemade savoury & sweet treats as well as cakes from local suppliers. Our new menu will also incorporate vegan and gluten free options to meet all dietary needs.
Regular visitors to Herstmonceux Castle will benefit from our digital loyalty app bite, on your first visit in 2020 you will be pointed in the right direction.
Follow the Chestnuts team on twitter – @TeaChestnuts or facebook – Chestnuts Tea Room and get an inside view over the next few days as we lead up to opening day.
Finally, for the delight of old and young alike, we are pleased to announce the arrival of our two friendly Guinea fowl, who will be visible around the gardens and grounds along with the Herdwick sheep often seen grazing on the side of the moat.
We look forward to seeing you during the season and thank you for your continued support. We hope you enjoy all our new enhancements and additions to the gardens and grounds.
Guy Lucas – Gardens and Grounds Manager