The Garden Diaries

By Belvoir Head Gardener – Tom Webster

March 2023

Spring is here, and the sap is rising. As we step boldly into March, it occurs to me, as I administer the breakfast boiled egg, that plants, contrary to old misconceptions, have no idea what time of year it is. After the first bit of mild weather, they pop up and look around, “Hello,” they say, “All present and correct,” a bit like the infantry. Those at the back saying “Go forward” and those at the front saying “Go back”, only to be ambushed by a late frost and go into a sulk, or worse. The birdlife here exhibits no such reservations, as they try to get in first, as it were, with mating. Even the muntjac, normally shy, take little notice of me in their determination to keep the species growing, (thank goodness I’m not wearing that aftershave).



Anyway, the snowdrops put on a splendid display this year, and I will try to increase their numbers by splitting and moving those from out-of-the-way places to where they can be better appreciated. Next up will be the daffodils, many thousands of which have been planted here over the past few years, and I have attempted to relieve the monotony of yellow by planting daffs with orange and pink cups by way of variety this year.

We still search the grounds for the rare long-lost narcissi named after Lady Diana Cooper, daughter of the 8th Duke, whose sarcophagus stands beside the mausoleum. But, to roses. At last, we can plant them, and we decided to plant them in cardboard boxes rather than remove all of the old soil, to guard against the risk of rose disease. This sounds easy until you come to do it, as the hole has to be dug exactly square for the box to fit, provoking a considerable amount of bad language from those digging them – they do have around 300 holes to dig. 

However, anyone who has purchased David Austin roses may appreciate that having a whole rose garden filled with them will really be something. So, all of this, and I’ve just noticed another pallet of young ornamental trees ready to be planted… but where?