Autumn Changeover


November is always a busy month in the Formal Gardens. We have been stripping out our summer bedding displays and are currently replanting these borders with our spring bedding plants and bulbs.

There will be a kaliedoscope of colour and scent in the spring as we have all shapes, sizes and colours of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus and muscari as well as many varieties of pansies, viola, daisies and wallflowers to enjoy.

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Ballerina Waxcap

Last year you might have read my blog about the different types of Waxcap fungi we have here in the Formal Garden. Wonderful Waxcaps

The only one I didn’t have a picture of was the Ballerina Waxcap. I was really pleased this morning when I was walking around the garden and saw that one of this season’s first waxcap varieties is a Ballerina Waxcap!




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Tree Fern Update

Several weeks ago I wrote about adding four tree ferns into our Tropical Fernery and how they looked more like logs than plants.

I now have to admit that they look stunning and are attracting a lot of attention and comments from our visitors, so I thought I would share a couple of pictures as an update on their progress.


As you can see they have added height and structure to the fernery and on a glorious sunny day they are certainly a show stopper and a photo opportunity.



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Spring Babies


We’ve been busy this last few days pricking out just over 6000 spring bedding plants in preparation for next spring.

There are a mix of pansy, viola, polyanthus and wallflowers which will make a fabulous colourful spring display enhanced with 8500 tulips and daffodils.

All of which are to be planted in November but I’m not thinking about that yet!

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Great Expectations

Last week a call came over the radio to let us know that a delivery of plants had arrived and much to my great excitement I realised it was our tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica).

We used to have some tree ferns in our ferneries a few years ago but they were lost during a really bad winter so, although I have seen photos, they were gone before I started working here. So as you might imagine I was excited for their arrival. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it certainly wasn’t this…


Four logs? How could this be right? Where are the roots and the pot?

But Senior Gardener Dale assured me that this was normal – once planted into the ground we would have to ensure that they are watered regularly, but into their crown and top half. What was he on about? This isn’t how to water plants surely?


All four now stand proud in our tropical fernery and do you know what? Dale was right. They are starting to unfurl and the fronds are emerging more and more each day.


I expect they will become a talking point amongst ourselves, our volunteers and our visitors alike.

I can’t wait!

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Plant of the Moment

Every day we get asked ‘Can you tell me the name of this plant please?’ Of course we are more than happy to help, but there are certain plants in the garden which really seem to stand out. Im hoping to post more often about which plants are the centre of attention as the season continues. So here is the first.


This is Primula vialii – a summer flowering deciduous perennial member of the primula family. It gows to 40 cm high with lanceolate leaves and spikes of light purple flowers opening from red buds. Commonly called the ‘Red Hot Poker’ primula.

You can find it in the Herbaceous Border in the Formal Garden.

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Still Stunning



It never fails to amaze me quite how spectacular and far reaching the Azaleas and Rhododendrons are at Cragside. With so many varieties, colours and scents there’s something to see around almost every corner. Even on a damp Monday morning they cant fail to impress.




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