Garden enthusiasts are ready for the great seed swap

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IT’S fantastic to suddenly find the tulip bulbs beginning to peep through the soil, whilst accompanied by our February Gold daffodils, which are already about to flower throughout the castle landscape.

There are signs of the purple crocuses that were planted by The Arundel Rotary Club, near the castle entrance; to aid awareness in the plight to “Rid the World of Polio” it won’t be long now before the crocuses start to flower.

Seed Swap – the garden team collects our seeds when the time is right and when we have had a successful crop we can afford to share with others we do so, excitingly on Sunday, February 27, the Arundel Agenda 21 will open the doors (5th year running) at the Norfolk Centre, Mill Road, Arundel to anyone who is interested in swapping or purchasing seeds from 1-3.30pm they are expecting a good turn out of garden enthusiasts, our castle garden team included, everyone comes together to swap or purchase seeds, discuss the latest varieties and in some cases they may find some rare or unusual seeds! There will also be old gardening books and magazines available along with Fair Trade refreshments.

Here at the castle we have just acquired some Sutherland Kale seeds, a variety which was grown by Sutherland crofters, very hardy and resilient with an excellent flavor, the seed was saved for years by Elizabeth Woolcombe, of West Drummie in Sutherland, who is now 93. She acquired it from a kale researcher called Angus Simmons in the 1950’s.

Now thought to be extinct except for the seed bank of The Real Seed Company, it demonstrates how important it is to keep seeds. The Millennium seed bank at Kew has been set up to save seeds for the future from throughout the world. This could be vital for our future survival.

Last year we transformed a secluded part of the walled garden into a stunning and tranquil wild flower garden, which not only caused a buzz with the visitors but also with bees, bumble bees, butterflies and many types of insects. This year we have added to this charming and exquisite area, we have just commissioned Mark and Rebecca Ford, local artists who exhibited at last years Arundel Festival, to create a living willow arch using salix viminalis, salix alba vitellina, bowles hybrid and salix purpurea producing a contrast of yellow, green, red and purple willows. The arch will lead you into the wild flower garden. Mark and Rebecca have just planted and woven the structure into a quirky and yet stunning arch which will complements the wild flowers; the fact that it is a living arch makes it that much more appealing to the eye. In the winter when the leaves die back it will take on the form of a living sculpture.

The art of weaving salix (willow) stems has been done since prehistoric times when woven hurdles were used for fencing. The willow was also used in buildings by weaving a structure and then coating it with layers of mud, clay and other natural materials such as wattle and daub, this form of building is still in use through out the world today.

A few tips from the castle garden team:

Continue to feed our feathered friends; we will need them healthy for insect control.

Continue top dressing with compost to improve your soil.

Mid to late February is the time to fertilize shrubs and evergreens with good organic fertilizers.

Good time to plant out autumn raspberries.

Deciduous vines such as honeysuckle should be pruned and shaped.

Warm up your soil using cloches or clear plastic film, ready for direct sowing next month.

Date for your diary - we open again on the 1st April.

For further information visit our website at www.arundelcastle.org

Happy Gardening!