Benington Lordship Gardens

Gardener's Diary - January 2011

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Much of this month has been spent catching up with work that couldn't be completed last month due to the big freeze, most of the mulching is finished and only a few cutting back jobs remain, the bridge over the causeway has been repaired after several sleepers were found to have rotted. A brief milder spell towards the end of the month has given the snowdrops a boost although they are still at least a week behind and very few early varieties have yet to start flowering.

Nature Notes The first signs of spring have been Woodpeckers starting territorial drumming in the park plus several very noisy Tawny Owls and Buzzards, the Ravens continue to be seen regularly in and and around the garden.

The photos below are of Galanthus "Wendy's Gold", Headbourne, the courtyard and house.


Gardener's Diary - March 2011

Unfortunately as soon as the gardens closed the cold wet weather was replaced by a warm and dry spring but it did allow the very muddy paths and lawns to recover quickly. New beds have been created by the main steps from the house and planted with Lavenders, several areas of turf have been repaired and some paths have had to have new edges after years of rabbit damage.

In the Kitchen garden the autumn Broad Beans have survived the winter well, Perpetual Spinach is now being picked again and Onion sets have just gone in, most of the early veg is sown indoors to give them an early start.

Nature Notes Redwings and Fieldfares were seen in large flocks this month, the first Chiifchaffs and Blackcaps were singing by the middle of the month, two Red Kites are regulalrly roosting in the park so will hopefully be nesting nearby.

The photos below are of the drifts of Scilla.


Gardener's Diary - April 2011

The very long dry spell has made for a relatively quite spring with grass cutting yet to reach it's normal peak towards the end of the month. Some plants are already showing signs of stress & we are having to water plantings from last year, the herbaceous borders are at least a few weeks ahead compared to most years. In the kitchen garden the lack of digging due to last years big freeze is starting to tell with the raised beds now set like stone and needing a lot of soaking before being dug over.

Nature Notes A pair of Mandarin Ducks have been seen regularly on the ponds, most summer visitors are now back with very good numbers of warblers singing around the gardens and park, Butterfly numbers are nopticably up this year. Despite two dead birds being found recenty the breeding Barn Owls on the estate seem to have survived the winter.

The photos below are of a Brimstone, Hornet & Hellebores.


Gardener's Diary - May 2011

Despite the continued long dry spell the Herbaceous Borders put on a good show at the end of the month, by the end of May most of the border has been staked, some watering was needed and it all needs dead heading several times a week. Long grass cutting has just started which has been much easier due to very little growth since March. Most of the vegetables have been planted despite a few slight frosts & there will be successional sowings for the rest of the summer.

Nature Notes A record number of 3 pairs of Barn Owls are nesting on the estate this year, one box was found to be occupied by the Mandarin ducks which fledged successfully at the end of the month. Several pairs of Spotted Flycatchers are nesting, a single Turtle Dove was heard and several Hobby were seen. Two Bee Orchid spikes have reappeared in the grass around the bottom pond.

The photos below are of a Spotted Flycatcher, Bee Orchid, Herbaceous border & Rose Garden