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Shakespeare’s Family Gardens - Spring 2023 at New Place

Find out what our gardens team have been up to and what’s happening in the New Place garden this spring.

Sian Cooper

What a winter we have had! As I’m sure any gardeners know all too well, it’s been a challenging time for gardens and gardeners, with even the most skilled of us losing plants to the extreme weather.

The raised beds at New Place covered in snow.

In many respects, we have been lucky. Although we have had some extremely cold weather (lows of minus 12 degrees Celsius), it has been fairly dry. For plants which originate from more Mediterranean climates, such as lavender and Santolina which makes up much of the Knot Garden at New Place, this is preferable to a rainy winter. Prolonged periods of wet can cause the base of Mediterranean plants to rot, so we are glad to have avoided that.

Winter Challenges

Sadly, the very dry winter has come with its own set of issues.

Prolonged periods of sub-zero temperatures lock up available water in the soil, leading to periods of drought. For plant species which are dormant through the winter, this isn’t a problem, however for evergreen species which still require water through the winter this is an issue. As a result, the Euonymus in the knot garden isn’t looking its best, and as this is a new issue for us, for now we have to just wait (with our fingers crossed) and see how it recovers.

Elsewhere in the gardens, there are lots of signs of life. Across the wild banks and the long borders of New Place colourful spring bulbs such as daffodils and Crocus, as well as the delicate Cyclamen, are bursting into flower filling the garden with a joyous display of yellows, pinks, and purples, and providing food for the first few early bees brave enough to venture out.

Spring Changes

The most notable change for visitors to New Place this year is the updated planting within the Golden Garden. Last summer’s extreme temperatures proved to be too much for the existing planting, which suffered in the exposed site. Our new planting scheme aims to be more climate resilient, incorporating plants which can withstand hot and dry conditions, including Convolvulus cneorum, Helianthemum ‘Wisley Primrose’, and a gnarly Olive tree whose age rivals that of the works of the Bard.

New planting in the raised beds at New Place, including a gnarly old olive tree on the right-hand side.

As the weather begins to warm again, it is an exciting time in the gardens, a point in the year that I always feel is filled with optimism and possibility. We are looking forward to another growing season, and the return of visitors to our sites. After a productive winter renovating and caring for all of our gardens, we’re excited to welcome you back to our gardens!

The sun setting over a snowy New Place garden.
The sun setting over a snowy New Place

You can find out more about the latest updates to Shakespeare’s Family Gardens on our dedicated webpage featuring links to blogs, the history of the gardens, and seasonal photo galleries.