What's New at The Bishop's Palace

James Cross, Head Gardener at The Bishop's Palace, describes some of thr recent and upcoming projects they're undertaking in the gardens. - 09 March 2016


What a mild winter! Just when you think spring cannot get any earlier, it arrives at Christmas! In actual fact we did not have a dormant period following the historic warm December. Our Magnolia stellata along with others in the country flowered historically early, in fact certainly the earliest since their introduction. Because of the mild, but not particularly wet, weather we were able to achieve all of our outside work and have been surprisingly ahead of schedule for much of the winter. This year we have decided to buy in extra mulch (mushroom compost) to improve the soil. We simply cannot produce enough compost for all the borders. The soil in most of the new borders was a poor brown earth (imported in the Victorian period) when the turf was lifted and it will require constant mulching for many years.

Last year we planted the new St Andrews Cross border, which is full of rich colours, especially those of the Bishop, blues, purples, gold and silver. The plants did well in the warm and rather damp summer especially the herbaceous Clematis jouinia ‘Praecox’ and ‘Pretty in Blue’.  The Roses also grew well, with ‘Munstead Wood’ producing my favourite blooms of that particular border.


This year we will be replanting the enormous Wells border which had become rather over grown. We will keep the design very close to that of Mary Keen’s original plan (2003) and replace many of the plants and shrubs that we have lost. The border will be full of plants like Roses, Iris, Philadelphus, Astrantia, Aster and Geraniums.


In the summer we will start to prepare our newest development which is a Winter Garden within the inner grounds. It will be planted with tall Irish Yews for structure and Daphnes, Mahonias, Chimonanthus, Hamamelis and Cornus to name a few of the shrubs. This has been made possible because of a generous donation.

Please do not forget our Garden Festival from June 10-12. Following last year’s success I am pleased to announce that this year we welcome Roy Lancaster, Mark Diacono, Tom Hart Dyke, Jane Moore and Claire Greenslade. Tickets are on sale now (early bird discount) and tickets are inclusive of the talks for which we can seat around 100. More details are available at our website.