Picton Castle and Gardens

National Gardening Week

Happy National Gardening week! We will be celebrating National Gardening week from Monday 26th April until Sunday 2nd May so now is the perfect time to visit our spectacular gardens and see what our gardeners are up to. The weather is set to be glorious all week.

Our gardening team will be extremely busy throughout the week in the Walled Garden. The paths and walls are almost complete so we have now reached the most exciting time of the whole project. The planting! It seems fitting that the end of this huge project coincides with National Gardening Week. If you intend to visit us then make sure you pop into the walled garden to see what is being planted in the beds. The garden team have kept this top secret all year so the rest of the staff at Picton will be just as eager to see what is going in as you will be.

All week our Head Gardener Roddy Milne will be answering your questions so if you have any gardening queries then please get in touch. Questions can be sent to us via Facebook, twitter, Instagram or email admin@pictoncastle.co.uk. Roddy has a wealth of knowledge in horticulture and there is no gardening question too tough for him to answer, so don’t be shy!

At Picton we are really lucky to have loyal team of garden volunteers who generously share their time and talents with us. These volunteers work alongside our experienced gardeners to help keep our gardens looking pristine. We would be really lost without them. Bernard Cookson started volunteering with us in 2011, at a time when we had students working and learning in the gardens. Each student was given a vegetable patch to practice in. Some students were more successful at growing than others and vegetable growing became quite competitive! When the students left Picton their vegetable patches remained and we were unsure what to do with them. Bernard took it upon himself to continue to grow fruit and vegetables here and create a proper kitchen garden. This area is situated south of the walled garden and Bernard can usually be seen working very hard here so do say hello to him if you see him. He has been especially busy recently as April is the most crucial time of year for sowing crops. So far Bernard has planted up potatoes, cabbages, kale, beans, peas, sweet peas, gooseberries and courgettes. Obviously all the vegetables grown at Picton are delicious. The produce is shared amongst the gardening staff and the restaurant. Maria makes a particularly lovely courgette cake in the summer, when the courgettes are in abundance.

If you head over to explore our vegetable patch then you might also see some interesting wildlife. Creating a balanced ecosystem is vital if you want a prosperous kitchen garden. Our large insect hotel is located here, providing a safe habitat for a diverse number of insects. Encouraging biodiversity in the garden with a bug hotel helps to increase ecosystem productivity so it is well worth making one in your own garden. They’re simple to make using recycled material – in fact you may even have everything you need already lying around in your garden. You can use anything to create a bug hotel including old wooden pallets, logs, straw, moss, dry leaves, old terracotta pots, old roofing tiles, bamboo; whatever you can find really (but preferably natural materials).
You may notice that we have also laid out sheets of metal in this area. You would be forgiven for thinking these pieces of corrugated steel are scattered scrap rubbish but they are not! Creatures great and small can be found hiding beneath. If you lift one then you might be lucky enough to spot one of the most interesting reptiles native to Britain; the slow worm! Slow worms look like snakes but are actually legless lizards. Being cold blooded these reptiles love to bask under sheets of metal as they warm up under the sun. These fascinating reptiles are any gardeners’ good friend because they snack on a variety of invertebrates, including slugs and snails! So providing a comfortable home for slow worms in your garden can be extremely beneficial indeed. They are nature’s alternative to toxic slug pellets and insecticides. Thinking about how we can best utilise the environment at Picton and encourage biodiversity is always in the forefront of our minds.
We hope that National Gardening Week encourages you to get out into your own garden and enjoy nature.

Kate Barrett

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