The King's Foundation The King's Foundation

Journal 7 May 2021

Dumfries House Gardens during Spring

The Gardens team at Dumfries House, the headquarters of The Prince’s Foundation, have been busy with various new projects that will come into bloom later in the year.

Gardener Josh Niven, pictured last month tending to the border of The Duchess of Rothesay Walk as the area bursts into colour, is always blown away by the scene at this time of year.

“Across The Duchess of Rothesay Walk and, to the north of The Temple, The Duke of Rothesay Walk, we have around 400,000 daffodils planted,” he says. “To see it come into bloom is breathtaking.

“A lot of the work to preserve that area comes down to our grasscutting team. It’s such a wild part of the estate, being so close to the farm, and it’s important to ensure the edges are well-kept.

“Equally important is the work of the estates team to ensure the lime trees on that stretch are staked properly in order to deal with the effects of windy weather in that particularly exposed part of the estate.”

Visitors to the estate will notice other areas of the gardens and woodland bursting into bloom, which is a welcome sight for the gardeners who have spent long Winter months preparing the ground so that flowers, shrubs and trees can thrive.

“We’ve been working for so long outdoors without much colour as many of the flowers and herbs remain dormant,” said Josh.

“The recent increase in temperature has meant many of the flowers are blooming and the gooseberries, raspberries and rhubarb crowns are coming into leaf. It’s good to see everything coming back to life.”

Josh will celebrate five years as an estate gardener in June of this year. He qualified in horticulture at Ayrshire College in his hometown of Kilmarnock and has continued his training through RHS-accredited courses on the estate.

He said of his current tasklist: “At this time of year, a lot of our existing borders are being redesigned. The herbaceous borders have been happily growing away for the past seven years, so a lot of the woodier plants are being split and reduced in size.

“In the vegetable beds, once the threat of frost has passed, and after digging over the vegetable beds and adding compost, we will prepare to plant vegetables such as courgettes and pumpkins.

“In the walled garden, I have been applying composted mushroom to feed the delphinium border in time for them blooming in Summer.”

The daffodils may have signalled a Springtime splash of colour, but the estate’s palette is set to boast a much broader spectrum of hues in the coming months, thanks largely to Josh and his colleagues in the gardens and estates teams.