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Autumn at Bishopthorpe Gardens

Autumn at Bishopthorpe gardens Sweet Gum and Hungarian Oak Conkers on the ground Autumn – my favourite season

Autumn is here and the garden is on the verge of producing its annual display of stunning colours. Trees such as ‘Sweet Gum’ (Liquidamber Styraciflua) and ‘Hungarian Oak’ (Quercus Frainetto) are just a couple of the many trees and shrubs which contribute to this spectacular display.

Autumn is an important time in the garden and a favourite season of mine (apart from the leaf raking!) with new plants and trees being introduced and borders to change.  All of the thought and effort we put in now will be rewarded by next spring and summer.

Part of the new plantings include a tree to be planted by the Archbishop of York to celebrate the Diocese of York 2011 Year of the Environment.  We have chosen an ornamental tree ‘Virginian Maple’ (Acer Virginicum Rubrum).  In the summer the leaves are large and deep green, turning brilliant shades of red in the autumn which should blend in nicely with the rest of the garden. 

Another task to be undertaken before the end of October will be the introduction of spring bulbs. We are planting 2000 mixed daffodils and around 6000 crocus bulbs to give the pedestrian entrance to the west of the Palace a lift.

Spring bedding also goes in this month. Along with dwarf wallflowers, violas, pansies, we will also be planting bedding tulips including ‘Yokohama’- a yellow single early, ‘Queen of the Night’ – a tall dark single tulip and for our Princess Diana Memorial Bed – a white short stemmed early tulip appropriately called ‘Diana’.

Elsewhere in the garden the conservation work is still ongoing and will continue long after the Year of the Environment celebrations come to a close.

The bird boxes which were put up in early spring have been a great success, with blue tits, great tits and robins all producing one and in some boxes two clutches of eggs this year.

I am also pleased that it looks like our tawny owl box has been used, with a few adult owls being regular visitors to the grounds all the year round.

Other visitors we have seen in the last couple of weeks include a green woodpecker – a rare sight in the grounds, along with groups of finches, siskin, long tailed tits and nuthatch. 

Redwing and fieldfares won’t be far behind them, all feasting on the insects and berries the hollies have produced in abundance this year.

A family of foxes who we see occasionally are helping to keep the rabbit population down and roe deer still make a welcome appearance from time to time.

Squirrels have caused some damage this year, especially to the Yew Trees and are busy burying conkers and other treats in the grass for the winter months ahead.  Four acres of woodland and they always choose our lawns for some reason!  Pity the foxes can’t climb trees really – that would keep the squirrels in check! 

Garry  (Head Gardener)


 The grounds of Bishopthorpe Palace are not open to the public except for open days, retreats, receptions, fetes or as part of pre-booked tours.  Enquiries as to hiring meeting rooms in the Palace or enquiries relating to functions should be directed to the Palace Manager 


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