March 2022

In this, the centenary year of Furzey Gardens, volunteer Catherine Brightwood will be writing a monthly blog to share her experience of working here.  Join her as she highlights some of her favourite plants and photographs throughout the coming year.

March is certainly the month to showcase the daffodil and it would be very easy to dedicate this whole blog post to talking about them.  Furzey has a carpet of uplifting daffodils stretching across the gardens in every shade of yellow.  We are very fortunate to have the pale wild daffodil, narcissus pseudonarcissus returning year after year.  However, the stunning yellow hues are not just limited to ground level.  The gorgeous corylopsis is a shrub covered with fragrant, bell-shaped, primrose yellow flowers.  It looked incredible with the Spring sun shining through it.  Like a giant, soft, yellow cloud, humming with bees.

Wild daffodils - narcissus pseudonarcissus and corylopsis

While I completed my job of transplanting foxglove seedlings into the main garden, I was lucky enough to hear woodpeckers drumming and enjoyed seeing a skein of geese fly overhead in formation.  The warmth of the March sunshine encouraged lots of wildlife out.  A beautiful sight was a peacock butterfly sunbathing on a purple azalea in front of the cottage.  It was warm enough for us to sit outside for our coffee break and I even took my fleece off!

I’ve really enjoyed having more visitors in the garden this month as it’s lovely to stop for a chat and also a chance for me to share my growing knowledge of the gardens.  I have learnt so much since joining as a volunteer, with Head Gardener Pete and fellow volunteer Malcolm always willing to teach me about the various species.  One sunny morning, a couple stopped me to ask about the rhododendron macabeanum, which has started flowering.  It is a real talking point, with its tropical looking clusters of large yellow flowers.  This now huge specimen was actually planted in 1929 by the original owner of the gardens, Bay Dalrymple.

Peacock butterfly on purple azalea and Rhododendron macabeanum

One of my favourite flowers to point out to visitors this month were the chionodoxa (glory-of-the-snow) which are found in a small bed in front of the tearooms.  They really are tiny, so it would be very easy to miss them.  They have delicate, star-like, sky blue flowers.  As I removed nettles from around their delicate blooms I was rewarded with the sunshine illuminating their beautiful petals.  In contrast to these dainty flowers, the first leaves of the imposing gunnera have appeared – poking through last season’s leaves, which are laid over the stump to protect the new growth from frost.  Before we know it, their ginormous, pre-historic looking leaves will be towering above us on thick, spiky stems.

Chionodoxa and emerging gunnera leaves

For me, the sparkling gems of the gardens this month have been the magnolias.  With their striking flowers contrasted against a brilliant blue sky.  If you remember, last month I was admiring the buds and anticipating their display.  It did not disappoint.  Standing in the sunshine under a huge magnolia, listening to robins and blackbirds singing, it almost felt as though I was in a Disney film.  Although, no magical creatures appeared to help me with the gardening!

Magnolia

As the primulas are starting to grow, we have been busy weeding and mulching around them.  When I took a wheelbarrow of weeds down to the compost heaps, I was very happy to see the alpacas grazing.  Furzey Gardens supports people with learning disabilities, and one of their tasks is to look after the alpacas.  It’s even possible to sponsor one of these lovely animals.  I’m really looking forward to April as the garden explodes with colour, and also my own personal favourite – the magic of the unfurling ferns and ethereal bluebells.  Come and leave the world behind while you reconnect with nature.

Primula leaves and alpaca in the meadow

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