Having read an article about Arundel Castle’s 15,000 tulips in April’s English Garden magazine, I was keen to see them for myself. And on Monday 20th April, on the way to taking my daughter back to college, I arrived for the show, only to discover the castle doesn’t open on Mondays -doh! Instead, we went to Brighton shopping, and I was hoodwinked into buying a pair of expensive sparkly sandals for her Leavers’ Ball. I know where I’d rather have been.
Fast forward nearly three weeks and we were passing that way once more, so I tried again and here is the result. Sadly the skies were grey throughout, and most of the time it was drizzling (evidenced by droplets on some of the photos, sorry) but I’m still delighted we went.
Although we’d been before in high summer, what struck me this time was how the structures, both the castle, the chapel and even Arundel Cathedral (outside the castle grounds), form an extraordinary, unique backdrop to the planting.
A relatively new area of the garden, the Collector Earl’s Garden, has been designed by Isobel and Julian Bannerman, and has been conceived as a Jacobean formal garden. It includes a domed pergola and fountains made out of green oak, which have already weathered significantly since our previous visit.
The centrepiece is the rockwork ‘mountain’ planted with palms and rare ferns to represent another world, supporting a green oak version of ‘Oberon’s Palace’, which contains a shell-lined interior with a stalagmite fountain and gilded coronet ‘dancing’ on top of the jet.
Whilst sadly some of the tulips were past their best (and doubtless would have been in their prime three weeks earlier), there was still plenty to enjoy, and it was of course, a completely different visit to the previous one last June.
We arrived at the white garden, adjacent to the Fitzalan Chapel, at nearly closing time and a volunteer was keen to ensure we didn’t miss visiting the chapel. However, his exhortation that there were some ‘very interesting tombs’ couldn’t quite persuade me away from the glorious white planting outside…
The tulips will be followed by ‘over fourteen varieties’ of Alliums, and then, later still in the season, numerous Agapanthus. It’s a glorious garden, with spectacular, ancient structures and skilled planting. I’m looking forward to returning.