Gardens to visit in March
Gardener and plantsman Keith Wiley shares his favourite gardens to visit in March.
Gardens to visit in March
RHS Garden Wisley, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
March will always be associated for me with daffodils and crocuses, which on sunny days can lift the spirits as winter draws towards a close. Good places to see a wide selection is in the gardens, or in the alpine houses, of RHS Garden Wisley, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, or the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh but there are numerous gardens around the UK where you can see daffodils this month.
Godinton House in Kent is a Jacobean house surrounded by a fine garden with herbaceous borders, a rose garden and a three-acre wild garden that in March and April is filled not only with daffodils, but fritillaries, primroses and other spring flowers.
Godinton House & Gardens, Godinton Lane, Ashford, Kent TN23 3BP. Tel 01233 643854, godintonhouse.co.uk
For the literary minded Dora’s Field in Cumbria has a certain poignancy. The daffodil-gazing poet William Wordsworth once owned the field and had planned to build a house on it for his daughter Dora, but after her untimely death, he planted the area with daffodils in her memory instead. It’s now maintained by the National Trust and in March it is still a mass of daffodils and bluebells.
Next to St Mary’s Church, Rydal, Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 9LR. nationaltrust.org.uk
In Wales, where daffodils are of course the national flower, there are several excellent gardens to see them. Bodnant Garden, which was conceived in the 1870s by the industrial chemist Henry Pochin, is most famous for its terraces, beautiful herbaceous borders and laburnum arch, but it also has a fabulous spring display of daffodils.
If like me your preference is for the smaller types then look out for the early flowering Narcissus cyclamineus and the small, lemon-yellow Narcissus ‘Cedric Morris’, which has been known to flower at Christmas. However, the main daffodil display kicks off in March when the Old Park meadow and grassy Glades are carpeted in yellow.
Tal-y-Cafn, near Colwyn Bay, Conwy LL28 5RE. Tel 01492 650460, nationaltrust.org.uk
Still in Wales, and just a few miles from Bodnant, is Aberconwy Nursery, which opens again this month after its winter break. It is without doubt, the best alpine nursery in the UK, with every plant beautifully grown, and is where I have sourced many of my smaller plants. Glan Conwy, Colwyn Bay, Conwy LL28 5TL.
Tel 01492 580875, aberconwynursery.co.uk
Alpine Garden Society Shows
If you can’t make it to North Wales, then Aberconwy is one of the excellent nurseries often found at the Alpine Garden Society shows around the country (including three this month), which I can’t recommend highly enough. The Scottish Rock Garden Club fills a similar role in both Scotland and in some parts of northern England.
March can sometimes still feel very wintery so a mild Cornish garden seems a good place to finish. The seven-acre garden at Mount Edgcumbe on the Cornish side of the estuary opposite Plymouth holds the National Collection of Camellias containing more than 1,000 species and cultivars of this delicate flower.
Cremyll, Torpoint, Cornwall PL10 1HZ. Tel 01752 822236, mountedgcumbe.gov.uk
Keith is a proponent of the ‘new naturalism’ movement in gardening and runs Wildside in Devon. He has written several books and lectures on both sides of the Atlantic.