Head Gardener shares his March tips

March 01 2024 | Garden

Even though I’ve been walking through the golden gates of the Italian Garden at Hever Castle for over 20 years, this magical place can still sometimes feel to me as if it’s been plucked from a fairytale. 

I know we have our former owner William Waldorf Astor to thank for the ‘fairytale’ element of the garden – who else would think to put huge golden gates at every entrance to the Italian Garden, plus an additional set to take you into Blue Corner? 

This forward-thinking American, for whom money was no object, dreamed big and commanded a huge ‘army’ of men to dig out the lake, build a Loggia and Piazza and create the perfect Edwardian pleasure garden here in Kent.

His vision is something we try to keep alive as we act in a caretaker role to maintain the incredible form of the garden itself from the columns in the Rose Garden to the formality of the Tudor Garden. 

That’s not to say that we can’t put our own twist on things and as March comes around and the sap begins to rise – so does our garden inspiration.

March is a good time to think big in the garden and really start to put your plans into action, and there are plenty of jobs to keep us busy this month from cleaning the greenhouse to planting a spring container basket:

March is a good time for creating seed beds and for preparing the soil for your sweet peas and meadow flowers like cornflowers. 

If you like to sow seeds you can direct grow hardy annuals into the soil, but if you have a greenhouse it’s often better to bring them on in there, and then prick them out as they progress.  Cosmos and zinnias are particularly good ‘doers’ and really produce the goods when they flower later in the year!

The camellias are still in full bloom at Hever Castle, the cherry blossom is on its way and the tulips are beginning to show promise ahead of their turn to shine next month.

As I look around the Estate, the magic feels tangible in March from thousands of daffodils blooming in Anne Boleyn’s Orchard to the sweet smelling hyacinths colouring Blue Corner with azure geometric patterns.  This part of the garden is always kept in tip-top order by our experienced team member Darren, who is excellent at keeping the beds looking as if they’ve just been made!

The rockery in Blue Corner is almost fantastical in its scope and proved a favourite place for Adam Frost when he and the Gardeners’ World team visited back in September.  Both Adam and Advolly Richmond were amazed by Astor’s vision for this part of the garden.  I was thankful for their close inspection of this area of the garden. It’s always good to take a second look – even if you are very familiar with your space – and remind yourself of the magical bits!

Dazzling Daffodils will run from the 18 – 24th March at Hever Castle & Gardens. Neil Miller and Johnny Walkers will be giving twice daily tours Monday – Friday 11:30am and 2pm, and the gardening team will lead tours on Saturday – Sunday 11:30am and 2pm.