Castle visitors go wild over flowers

Annual wildflowers at Arundel Castle.
Annual wildflowers at Arundel Castle.

The Arundel Castle gardens are really busting into life, this past week our visitors have been going wild over the abundance wildflowers. The castle banks are full of wildflowers mostly self-seeded with the grasses being kept low by our resident goats.

In the grounds we laid wildflower turf in the larger grassed areas of the grounds, which have a mix of grasses with unusual names a such as Sheep’s Fescue, Small Leaved Timothy, Creeping Red Fescue and Crested Dogstail. For wildflowers you can find Birdsfoot Trefoil, Ragged Robin, Musk Mallow, Ribwort Plantain the more usual Ox Eye Daisy, Cowslip, Meadow Buttercup, common Toadflax, White Campion and Wild Marjoram. On the lower lawn we have used our annual native wildflower seed to form a natural barrier for when we host events this summer, such as the Jousting and Arundel Festival, when children love to sit by the vibrant flowers, full of colour and texture.

In the walled gardens we have sown an area with pretty native annual wildflower seeds, which should flower through to the later autumn and highlights the fact that you don’t need a large garden to grow wildflowers. There’s a huge variety of flowers, some with wonderful names such as Fairy Toadflax, Corncockle, Larkspur, Black-eyed Susan, Corn Marigold, Tickseed, Red Flax, Bishop’s Flower, Cornflower , Red Orache, Scentless Mayweed wild poppies like the Field Poppy, Shirley Poppy, Californian Poppy, nd all from just one mix of seeds! The mix without grasses to reduce the risk of them taking over the rest of the garden when they go to seed. This area has been transformed to a stunning array of colour, with the awe inspiring cathedral as a backdrop; it’s now a garden within a garden!

Many visitors have been inspired to go home and plan their wildflower areas for next year; you need to sow annual wildflower seed once the heavy frost has gone from March to end of April, the general height of the plants will be around 60cm. There are plenty of choices of mixes you can find on the web, if you want a more permanent effect use a perennial mix of seed, turf or plugs, they will come back each year or if you wish to change your colour scheme yearly go for an annual wildflower mix. We used ‘Pictorial Meadow’ annual wildflower meadowmix for the walled garden and for our larger grassed areas a perennial wildflower turf from ‘Wildflower Turf Ltd’ (Hampshire).

As always there’s so much in the gardens to see at the moment it’s hard to choose what to mention next. Along side the water rills in the Collector Earl’s Garden the Agapanthus umbellatus ovartus (African Lily) look glorious beside the water with there lovely shade of blue, we’ve also created a tropical feel to the centre of the labyrinth with added colour this year.

A few tips from the castle garden team:

l If you’re bored by thistles, remember the saying “cut in June and cut too soon, cut in July “tis sure to die”!

l Mix comfrey cuttings with grass mowing and spread between the bush fruit to suppress weeds and make surface compost.

l Raise the height of your lawn mower during hot, dry spells.

l If you are going on holiday this summer remember to water it well, especially now the hose ban is off, and if necessary set up an automatic watering system.

l Continue to deadhead to encourage further flowering.

l Plant your autumn flowering bulbs

l Protect your ripening fruit.

Happy Gardening!

Arundel Castle & Gardens are open from Saturday March 31 to Sunday November 4, Tuesdays to Sundays inclusive, Bank Holiday Mondays and August Mondays. See website for garden tours, events and festival information.

Martin Duncan - Arundel Castle Head Gardener