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News. New Growth

16th of March, 2017

It’s the end of February and crisp mornings are still the order of the day at Dumfries House, with the surrounding land in pre-season slumber. But gathered around the estate’s great trees, clusters of snowdrops are the first to raise their heads in the brisk air. The arboreal shade provides shelter for this delicate flower, with falling leaves ensuring moist soil that enables the small groups to multiply into drifts.

From here, a walk to the Queen Elizabeth Walled Garden’s glasshouses offers more signs of spring. Hundreds of bulbs are beginning to wake, as determined shoots of green push through the earth in their individual containers. By choosing flowers that blossom at different times, the estate enjoys a succession of blooms from early March right through to mid-May.

Kept dry over the winter, bulbs are usually potted through November and December (400,000 bulbs were planted along The Duchess Of Rothesay Avenue alone last year, in support of the Marie Curie Cancer Trust). “They are then heated sequentially to ensure that new blooms are available throughout the spring,” explains gardener James Goodman.

Daffodils and tulips blossom fast (their glorious display lasting for just two weeks) and planting after the winter frost is staggered to ensure rolling banks of colour.

The cup-shaped tulip heads, vibrant trumpet-tops of the Tête à Tête daffodil and musky scent of the Pheasant Eye variety herald a new season of verdant vegetables and thriving foliage, which in turn will make way for the terracotta-hued begonias, a symbol of summer.

It is this period that is Goodman’s most treasured: “Seeing all the hard work from the year before pay off with a vibrant and full gardening display is so satisfying,” he enthuses. “I just can’t wait for the visitors to enjoy it.”

Words: Marie Louise Von Haselberg

Photography: Lisa Boyd