So back we went for the third of our monthly visits to the Herefordshire property of theNational Trust, Croft Castle where we had a wander to see what had changed since our visit in February. As usual we began our tour by checking out that the coffee and cakes were still up to our high expectations! To get there we walked past the parkland which features the ancient Sweet Chestnuts. These old trees were still showing no signs of spring, their buds tightly closed.
Suitably refreshed we cut through a meadow area on our way to the walled garden, and in that meadow little patches of colour shone out, white Wood Anemones, the purple of Fritilleries and the yellows of Celandines and Dandelions. Amongst these the patterned leaves of Arum Italicum, our native Arum Lily clothed the ground. Fritilleries although dramatic flowers with purple chequerboard patterned petals were remarkably difficult to make out among the grass.
The long, deep mixed border was showing colour too, mostly primulas and bulbs.
We walked quickly along the long border trying to avoid the biting wind and reach the protection of the walled garden. When we caught the first glimpse of the doorway into the walled garden we were amazed to see that the little section of cobbled path the gardeners had recently discovered had now been exposed and restored right across the lawned area.
Passing through the little doorway you can see in the photo below at the right hand end of the wall gave welcome relief. There was no wind within the walls and the temperature was so much warmer. It made the day feel comfortable to wander in so we slowed down and took time to look.
The long border beneath the wall had a scattering of blooms such as these Pulmonaria and Muscari and the buds on a few of the shrubs were beginning to burst. The vineyard however was still deep in its state of hibernation.
As usual we were tempted to go through the blue gates into the working heart of the walled garden. We discovered a newly created fruit garden and close by a Rhubarb plant waited patiently to take its place.
In the greenhouse plants had been potted up ready to be sold later in the season, including this array of Pulmonarias.
Back out in the main walled garden we found more Rhubarb and this looked well on its way to being ready for harvesting. There were signs of spring everywhere in the protected environment within the wall, fresh greens and reds of newly burst buds on willows and roses.
We noticed as we wandered around the comfortable grassed paths that whenever we caught a glimpse of the garden buildings they seemed to be framed by trees and hedges.
Leaving the walled garden behind we followed cobbled patterned paths beneath old fruit trees underplanted with Primroses and Daffodils.
The enclosed courtyard garden was full of the contrasting colours of Primroses and Chionodoxa. A cheerful sight!
We seemed to be at Croft on a day when many volunteer gardeners were working on site. They seemed to be enjoying their work and their time was punctuated with laughter and chatter.
Bees, hoverflies and a few butterflies were out enjoying the early spring sunshine and a little unexpected warmth.
Our next visit will be in April when we expect to see Spring in full swing.