Castle Howard - the perfect place to see flowers in spring and summer

Daffodils carpet the grounds in spring, Castle Howard

Daffodils carpet the grounds in spring, Castle Howard - Credit: Archant

This month we head to the award-winning gardens of Castle Howard in North Yorkshire

The Ornamental Vegetable Garden, Castle Howard

The Ornamental Vegetable Garden, Castle Howard - Credit: Archant

There are fewer finer places to enjoy spring flowers than the stately grounds of Castle Howard not far from York. Daffodils fill much of the estate at Easter time and give a stunning display. The last of the crocus can be seen along the China border and along the main drive. There is a glorious display of primula denticulate within the walled garden and the beginnings of the leucojum aestevum and leucojum vernuum (spring/summer snowdrop). Also a great display of muscari in the old rose garden. The Lime Avenue looks incredible at this time of year with a beautiful carpet of primula and bluebell and there is a wonderful peppering of cowslip not to be missed at Ray Wood bank.

‘April is really the start of the preparation for all of our wonderful delphiniums, following a healthy coverage of manure in February,’ said head gardener Brian Deighton. ‘These majestic giants are already starting to climb skywards. We support them with strategically hidden canes and twine which ensures protection in the event of strong winds or heavy rain. The herbaceous borders begin to take on a vibrant and fresh appearance with the new green shoots of growth.

‘In May we are really getting into the heart of the new season, filling the planters and tubs around the grounds with bright colourful summer bedding, in the walled garden there’s an array of delightful colours and wonderful fragrances from numerous scented flowers beginning with the first roses, the alliums, lupins, sweet peas, campanula through to the wonderful low lavender border and the garden is filled with the fantastic aroma of the philadelphus, pure heaven. And the potager will be bursting with new season’s crops (hopefully!)

‘In June, everything is at its best, the strongest fragrances, colours and visual displays. Ray Wood and the rest of the grounds are at their most lush and wonderful best.’

The walled garden, created in the 18th century as a kitchen garden, is today partly given over to growing vegetables while the rest has been transformed into a rose garden in memory of Lady Cecilia Howard and is considered one of the most impressive collections of modern day roses in the country. There is an ornamental vegetable garden with sweet pea wigwams among the vegetable patches filled with traditional English garden crops from runner beans and cauliflowers to rhubarb, strawberries and more.

Ray Wood houses a prestigious collection of rhododendrons as well as glades of Pieris, wild roses, magnolias, hydrangeas, viburnums, maples and rowans which sit alongside rare botanical finds from around the world.

Easter Fair

The Easter Fair at Castle Howard includes a traditional fairground, farm and a range of children’s activities. Try your luck at ‘hook a duck’ and test your aim at the coconut shy before having a go on the carousel and big wheel. Say hello to a number of creepy crawlies and if you’re feeling brave, have a hold too or meet the animals at the mini farm. Don’t miss the Easter egg trail and have a go at some crafts before meeting Molly the Rabbit in the grounds.

Flower Festival

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Floral arrangements fill the house during the annual Flower Festival in June/July; reflecting the eclectic array of artwork that has been collected by succeeding generations of the Howard family. Each of the rooms in the event will feature displays by Castle Howard’s own florist and garden team as well as local flower clubs. Walk the tree-lined passage before peering upward to the dome rising above, with its circular wrought iron balcony trailing with flowers. The Garden Hall is transformed into a cottage garden with the Howard family doll’s house surrounded by flowers and foliage.

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