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Spring is in the air at Haddon Hall

daoodils at Haddon Hall
daoodils at Haddon Hall

Spring is finally upon us at Haddon and once more the doors are open as we welcome our visitors.

As usual it’s been a busy time in the garden with much preparation behind the scenes to ensure everything looks at its best. It’s been a long winter but the spectacle of the nodding heads of hundreds of daffodils on the banks surrounding the Hall are a sure herald of brighter times ahead. In recent years I’ve occasionally heard people saying that they are not too keen on the humble daff; perhaps they are a bit too obvious or showy for some modern tastes, but for me there’s nothing that beats the cheerful simplicity and sunny optimism that they encapsulate. Long may they nod their golden heads across our land.

Head gardener at Haddon Hall, Steve James

Head gardener at Haddon Hall, Steve James

Within the gardens of the Hall, the old dry stone terrace walls are dotted with purple sprays of aubrietia- introduced to the garden by the family back in the 1930s and obviously still happy here, providing the occasional early-rising bee with somewhere worthwhile to visit. In the beds of the fountain terrace, the velvety dark purple flowers of hellebores contrast with the delicate white bell flowers of the Leucojum, looking very much the tall cousin of the snowdrop, to which they are related. Our visitors often enquire about these and I can certainly recommend them as they have proved to be no trouble at all, flowering reliably year after year.

I’m looking forward to seeing our alliums this year as we planted many new bulbs in the lavender border on the Bowling Terrace. Like a lot of bulbs these have a limited lifespan and we replace ours every few years. Their pom-pom heads float attractively above the lavender making a wonderful summer display. ‘Purple Sensation’ and ‘Gladiator’ were the varieties selected this time, so we shall see how well they perform.

In the main borders, I’ve been constructing support frames for the taller perennials from pliable hazel sticks sourced from the estate. These are tied in to form domes of varying sizes (and varying artistic merit) through which the plants can grow. Apart from this practical aspect, they add some structural interest to the borders at this early point in the season. The borders are not entirely bereft of colour at this time, as a host of self-sown primulas have made themselves at home, including the lovely denticulata ‘drumstick’ types, with palest violet heads. I think we should be honoured that these colourful visitors consider our gardens worthy of their custom.

The bridge at Haddon Hall

The bridge at Haddon Hall

Climbing wall at Haddon Hall

Climbing wall at Haddon Hall