February arrives as the gateway to spring, each day gets a little lighter and brighter and the first signs of colour appear in the brown earth, a short month filled with change and positivity.
Our head gardener David Pearce, made one of us first tasks at Whatley a planting scheme that would deliver an abundance of early spring colour along the driveway welcoming guests to the house.
The Tillia cordata ‘Greenspire’ trees the line the driveway is beautiful but do not begin to produce leaves until mid to late spring. David had the ideas of planting 100’s of early flowering bulbs that would provide colour and enjoy the early sunlight not required by the trees. This is similar to how woodland bulbs behave in the wild, and David and his team planted with the aim of recreating that ecosystem.
The bulbs are mostly Narcissus, six different varieties that were selected to provide a successional flowering from February to May. Among the narcissus varieties are our native daffodil (Narcissus pseudo narcissus), which is quite endangered in the wild of the UK, and is an important source of nectar for insect pollinators early in the season. Having separated groups of 70-80 bulbs, the team threw them in the air and planted them where they landed; creating a naturalistic effect, and giving the impression that the bulbs and have been there for decades.
For added colour, planted along the drive are occasional bright-cultivated varieties of tulips, which are used to create a meadow effect all along the driveway. We hope you enjoy this glorious display of early spring flowers and that it makes you feel welcome, even before you arrive at reception.
Top tips for planting bulbs from David:
“With most bulbs it is important to give them with plenty of drainage. We plant in the autumn, with the early flowering bulbs needing early planting. This gives them time to push out roots and put on growth being flowering. Plant the bulbs at twice the depth of the bulb, with the pointed end facing upwards.”