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The depths of winter

by Lucy Hart, head gardener

January finds us into the depths of winter but unbeknown to many, its one of the busiest months in the garden at Fulham Palace. From this month we have lots of regular pruning jobs that can start to take place. This includes coppicing some of the hazel, Corylus avellana for brushwood staking in the walled garden. The stakes will be used for the herbaceous flower displays in the knot garden and to support peas and other climbing produce. We also prune our apple trees in January; this includes the old specimens dotted around the walled garden, the orchard that was planted in 2014, the wall trained trees as espaliers against the walls and the apples up the arch way tunnel. In total there are about 130 trees to prune.

Elsewhere in the garden January is a time to appreciate ornamental bark and other winter flowers. One of our most prized tree specimens, the paper bark maple Acer griseum, rare in its native China, gleams on a sunny day. Having dropped its leaves, the enticing winter bark display is exposed. The bright copper colour has an uncanny match with the brickwork on the Palace and chapel behind it.

Little glimpses that spring will be with us soon appear in January, with snowdrops popping up near our new south path. We planted two more varieties, Galanthus nivalis fpleniflorus ‘Flore Pleno’ and G.elwessii four years ago and so the bulbs should now be getting established well. Our delightful Cyclamen coum are in full bloom and are ideal for growing at the base of deciduous trees.

The Heritage Lottery funded landscape project continues and our lovely wattle fence around the new planting is complete.  The path that once used to be a narrow track now make this part of the gardens accessible for all, even in the depths of winter.  The plants themselves are all species that Bishop Compton once grew here between 1675 and 1713 when he lived at Fulham Palace.