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The Endsleigh Gardener: Now is Pretty Good by Ben Ruscombe-King (May 2017)

The gardens at Endsleigh are now reaching their spring crescendo, with everything bursting into life so fast that every day offers a reunion with an old friend forgotten over the winter months. The Dell Garden is breathtaking with bluebells, ramsons, primroses and red campion battling to fill every available space (and early purple orchids if you know where to look). The Rhododendrons and Azaleas are now reaching full throttle with their colour saturation well and truly turned up to eleven and many of the Magnolias are in full bloom in their far more understated way. And the scent, oh the scent… the only word is intoxicating.

The Gunnera are starting to push forth their primordial leaves, whilst Osmunda regalis (the Royal Fern) unfurl their croziers and the giant Bamboo shoots burst from the ground with an almost unseemly energy, one begins to get a glimpse of the jungle that will unfold into the summer months.

The whole garden has taken on the spring green hue that is only experienced at this time of year and is so energising and just as well it is, as it also heralds that time of year when all the jobs that need to be done around the garden need to be done immediately. We are currently renovating a cascade in the dell and have some 500 primulas to plant out but currently have no prepared ground in which to plant them, they are all bursting into bloom in our yard where no-one will see them.

In the formal garden the tulips are still hanging on and whilst the border is not yet at its best the promise of what’s soon to come is tantalising. Camassia, Euphorbias, Asphedoline are all in flower and the buds of the alliums are swelling ready for their May firework display. The rose arch is covered in buds ready for the summer flowering and the Clematis montana is in full flow.

The parterre is looking fantastic, with the green and white flowered tulip ‘Green Star’ and cream wallflower ‘Ivory White’ set against the backdrop of the floriferous white flowered Wisteria, it is a sea of vestal purity and makes the bedding out of 3000 plants and bulbs seem well worth it.

This is certainly a magical time at Endsleigh with so much bursting into life, however whatever time of year I’m asked ‘when is the best time to come to Endsleigh?’ I invariably hear myself saying ‘now is pretty good’.