IT is one of the jewels of the North East, a haven of tranquillity and natural beauty – and now Alnwick Garden is set to open its doors again after a winter clean-up.
The garden, which was set up by the Duchess of Northumberland, has been closed since January 9 for essential maintenance work to be carried out.
The attraction opens tomorrow for the new season, and it promises a few surprises are in store for visitors.
As part of the tidy-up, the garden’s impressive grand cascade water feature was shut down for the first time since being installed 10 years ago.
The centrepiece, which has been operational every day of the last decade, has been given a thorough clean and had its pumps and filters serviced. Now the showpiece feature has been switched back on in time for the grand reopening.
A pond at the garden’s main entrance has also been cleaned out and reshaped.
Snowdrops have been planted around the water, and eventually more than 180,000 will surround the pond.
Staff have also planted 250 Himalayan Birch trees which will grow above the white snowdrop carpet.
The trees will be reflected in the water of the pond, creating a mirror image, while a new hovel has also been built at the entrance to the attraction’s Poison Garden. This building has been turfed, giving it a grass roof.
Work has also been carried out at the garden’s plant centre with paving put down and a new bench installed.
The work has been done by the majority of the 12-strong gardening staff, with the attraction’s three maintenance engineers carrying out the spring clean of the cascade.
Head gardener Trevor Jones said: “There will certainly be new things for people to see in the garden now there have been developments made.
“They will see the cascade looking at its best. It looks brilliant now.”
The temporary closure was announced by garden bosses last September, at the same time as the attraction revealed it would not be repeating the partial winter closure of 2010.
At the time, marketing director David Hawke said: “It allows us to do all the things we do not get a chance to do when we are busy. It is the quietest time of year, it is a good time to do it. It allows us to get it over and done with.”
Meanwhile, the attraction has a series of plant-inspired festivals lined up for the months ahead.
The first is a daffodil celebration where a flower named after the garden will be launched.
Alnwick Magic was designed by Nyssan Bulbs, a company the garden regularly works with which was asked to produce a flower which could bear the attraction’s name.
The man behind the creation is coming over from Holland on March 9 to give a talk at the festival on how he came up with the bloom, which will be on sale initially only at the garden but eventually further afield.
The event runs from March 6-15, and will be followed by a tulip festival from May 1-8 and later in the year by celebrations of lilies, dahlias and delphiniums.