Arundel’S Tulip Festival heralds a season

Arundel Castle Flower Festival. Picture S Robards SR2204251 SUS-220425-145629001

His Grace the Duke of Norfolk and the Sussex Heritage Trust have proudly presented the world famous Arundel Castle Tulip Festival.

Over the past eight years, over 1.2 million flower bulbs have been planted on the magnificent 14-hectare site and displayed during a recent special event hosted by the Castle and Foundation.

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Attendees admired the stunning displays of daffodils, cammasias and alliums enjoyed by large numbers of visitors at Collector Earl’s Garden so far this year – with the magnificent cathedral as a backdrop to the striking flora.

Sussex Heritage Trust Award ceremony at Arundel Castle, West Sussex, UK. Photo by Sam Stephenson, 07880 703135,, @sspjpg.

The palatial grounds recently won an award for the Earl’s Garden, which was a car park as recently as 2008 but is now a monument to the extravagant and eclectic tastes of the art lover, the 14th Earl of Arundel, and was designed by Julian and Isabel Bannerman.

Since 2014, the horticultural team has strived to create the best possible tulip festival, and in the process, head gardener Martin Duncan created the world’s first tulip maze. The historic Stew Pond Project, winner of the 2020 Sussex Heritage Trust Award, was also featured at the special event.

The pond, believed to be of medieval origin, was part of a two-year project to showcase the natural area’s biodiversity in tranquil water gardens. It’s a particular favorite of its creator, Martin Duncan.

Martin said, “The stew pond uses natural elements with the natural landscape and because it has all the water, if you had all the wildflowers with you, it fits into the landscape,” he said.

Arundel Castle Flower Festival. Picture S Robards SR2204251 SUS-220425-145655001

“Although it’s not a garden we’ve had kingfishers before and we have a wide range of birds. We had an entomologist visit and he said he couldn’t believe it but there had been one of the largest numbers of insects he had seen all year.

“I’ve been very lucky with the Duke and Duchess, when I do a drawing or have an idea, they are very happy to see it go ahead.”

Helen Reeve, Chief Executive Officer of the Sussex Heritage Trust said: “It was recognized for the craftsmanship and the new design of the space, many people wouldn’t invest the money in a casserole like this and they have created this wonderful family area now.

“[Arundel] is such an interesting garden, it has these formal spaces and then there’s the potting pond which is very much designed to just keep getting better and better and evolving over time.

Arundel Castle Flower Festival. Picture S Robards SR2204251 SUS-220425-150255001

“We only celebrate absolute excellence in architecture and landscape and that’s what the awards mean. If your project is brilliant and a good example of Sussex architecture and landscape, using local craftsmanship, it will win awards.

“It can be anything from a garden of this scale to a private home garden, a school to a statue, it can be anything. But it’s really designed to get people upping their game in terms of architecture and design.”

Martin and his team of seven gardeners and six volunteers pull off the remarkable feat of not only keeping the extensive grounds pristine, but also ensuring that some of the flora is always in full bloom.

Martin said: “It just takes a lot of passion and a good team. We all work hard to make it look good. Alliums are the big thing that’s popping up now. I love Allium Christophii and I have these in the lavender, in a month they will be floating over the lavender like hot air balloons.”

Arundel Castle Flower Festival. Picture S Robards SR2204251 SUS-220425-145955001

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