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April- Spring is in Full Swing

Spring is now in full swing. Already there is much more colour around the gardens and everywhere you look there is the promise of new life.

April has been a busy month for all the team here at Heligan. As new life begins to emerge and the hard work over winter finally starts to come to fruition, the gardeners have had their shorts on and their sun cream on standby!

The apricot blossoms in the Peach House have very quickly turned from flower to fruit. The team lent a helping hand to the early bees last month and hand pollinated much of the apricot and peach blossoms to ensure a healthy fruit. In the blink of an eye the blooms have wilted and the green of early apricot pods have come through. Across the way in the Vinery the first greenery on the grape vines is beginning to emerge and once fully established will transform the Vinery into a wash of green!

The team have been busy planting out the first of the flowers. Get ready to see stocks and ranunculus making an appearance in the flowers beds. Slowly but surely over the next few months, the bare soil of the Flower Garden will renovate from earth to flower.

Over in the Kitchen Garden the team have been working to get new crops into the ground as the soil is warming for spring growth. Due to the length of time they take to grow the first of our parsnips have been sown into the ground, as well as more and more beans. They are easy to see by their hazel structures, taken whilst coppicing in the Lost Valley, that will support their growth.

Under the glass of the Melon House, if you sneak a peek, you will see a wealth of vegetable and flower seedlings hardening up, soon to be ready to go out into the ground and fill the bare soil patches.

Over on the Home Farm our lambing season continues with only one of our ewes still waiting patiently for her lambs to arrive. The first and older of our lambs are now bouncing around in the paddocks, basking in the sun and enjoying some fresh spring air.

Later this month we are expecting more piglets! This time one of our British Lop sows is due to give birth but if you can’t wait that long, pay a visit to the Barn and meet the lovely and lively Oxford Sandy & Black piglets.

The Livestock Team and Shire horse Izzy will be harrowing the fields of East and West Lawn over the next few weeks. This is in preparation for poppy sowing and planting our wildflower seeds. The poppies and wild flower meadows will attract and provide habitat for; insects and other invertebrates (including butterflies, bees, spiders and millipedes), birds and mammals.

We are delighted to welcome two new sheep to the Home Farm. Xooty and Snowdrop are Ryeland Sheep, a new rare breed for Heligan. These beauties are joining us after suffering a leopard attack in December last year. Both are fully recovered but did suffer injuries and as a result of this they do display some scars. We hope to give them a happy life here at Heligan and we just know all of our visitors will love them as much as we do.  

The humble bumble bee is the focus for our ‘Wildlife of the Month’. The queen bumble bees have emerged from their wintery slumber and are busy buzzing around in search of pollen and nectar, so they can start their nests. To celebrate this wonderful creature, our Wildlife Team are undertaking bumble bee Identification training with The Bumble Bee Conservation Trust. With the aim that in the future Heligan could be home to a self-guided bumblebee trail, with visitors helping to spot and record all the different species of bee around the route.  

The area behind the Hide is going to be planted with wildflowers for the bees and The Roseland Bee Group have installed a log hive for the honey bees of Heligan too.

In other wildlife news, the swallows are back! The first spotted earlier on this week in their favoured spot, the Melon Yard. Look out for them on warm sunny days as they fly around the gardens in search of food. They like to nest in tucked away corners, keep an eye out for their nests- we would love to know if you spot one.