Head Gardener shares his gardening tips for April

April 03 2024 | Garden

Head Gardener Neil Miller shares his gardening tips for April – a lesson in colour perfection!

Back in October 2022 the gardening team put their heads together to work out the perfect equation for a successful spring and came up with a tulip border designed in the shape of arithmetic symbols. The tulip border close to the Festival Theatre will be in full bloom this month (April 2024) as part of our first Celebration of Spring event.

With thousands of tulips, spring bedding, cherry and apple blossom galore, magnolias, early rhododendrons, hyacinths, camassias and bluebells, there’s much to celebrate in the grounds.

In terms of tulips come and along and take notes ready for October when you can purchase bulbs to plant.

If you are in search of horticultural elegance, then Purissima (a delicious creamy white) is for you – we’ve teamed it with Scarlett Bedder a great wallflower.  Another favourite of mine is Apricot Foxx which encircle the Castle walls, but you’ll find lots of different varieties planted in block colour designs and a tapestry of colours in the Italian Garden, along Pergola Walk and in the ‘small room’ gardens of the Pompeiian Wall.

Tulips can also be found through the longer grass in natural planting patterns close to the Golden Staircase, and I must confess that we used a machine to plant these – as it can be a bit back-breaking planting thousands of bulbs!

During our colour research we found out that there’s a symbolic meaning behind each colour:

Speaking to our resident Castle Curator Alison Palmer, and looking through the gardening history books, we also discovered that the tulip was officially introduced into the Tudor gardens of England in 1578. 

Tulips of all colours were introduced across the centuries and we are now in the position to be able to plant huge block colours or to go mad and plant a kaleidoscope of colours interspersed with other spring bulbs, if we so choose. 

I love this time of year in the garden, it’s when we can see things really getting going and surging ahead, but there are plenty of jobs to do!

Make sure you find time to have a close look at your lawn; there could be more moss in your lawn this year due to the mildish winter we have had. The moss needs to be removed before it takes over your lawn. I find that the best way to remove the moss is with an old fashioned wire rake, it is hard work but well worth it at in the end. Think of it as a great workout if you have overindulged with the chocolate eggs! Fill any bald patches with a light sprinkle of grass seed and water in.

If you have hedges then now is a good time to give them a feed.  I’ll be out this week feeding our evergreen hedges and the topiaries with pelleted chicken manure which is high in nitrogen and will help to produce plenty of lush new growth over the coming weeks.  Water the pellets in well and then dress with a good layer of well-rotted mulch to keep the moisture in and the weeds at bay.