GREEN-FINGERED volunteers are digging deep at Belsay to lay the ground for a spectacular spring.
The magnificent gardens at Belsay Hall and Castle are now showing the colours of autumn in all their glory across more than 30 acres.
But behind the scenes, work is already under way to prepare for a new season.
With 11,600 bulbs to plant, the estate’s gardening team are grateful for the help of eight volunteers.
Head Gardener Jo Harrigan said: “The big bulb plant is well under way at Belsay with over 11,000 bulbs to plant, ensuring that the displays here in the gardens look more impressive than ever next spring.
“Our team of volunteers has grown to eight and it’s a great team effort planting everything from tulips and daffodils to roses and snowdrops.
“The majority of the preparation for next year is done during the autumn and winter months. There’s a lot of hard work involved, but when we see the spring gardens come to life it will all be worth it.”
As well as making preparations for spring, the team is also hard at work to prevent damage during the winter.
Procedures include heightening grass cuttings to allow the lawns to photosynthesise, laying mulch and ferns between plants and shrubs to protect them from winter weather and ensure they receive vital nutrients, cutting back perennials, dead heading, collecting seeds and cutting hedges.
Jo said: “We carry out a full winter works programme to ensure that the gardens are fully cared for and protected during the harsher winter months and to maximise results for the following spring.
“It’s a particularly busy time of year, but we have a fantastic team behind us and the thought of our stunning spring gardens really motivates everyone to keep up the hard work.”
Visitors can explore the grounds themselves, including formal gardens, ravines, woodland and quarry gardens.
For more information visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/belsay or call 01661 881636.