The gardening team at Holker Hall is taking on one of their biggest-ever challenges as they plan to plant more than 22,000 bulbs in just a few weeks.

Tulip displays in the spectacular 25-acre garden have become a tourist attraction in their own right and head gardener Matthew Murgatroyd is determined to make his mark.

“I have just completed my first full year here,” said Matthew, formerly deputy head of gardens at Highgrove, the private residence of King Charles and The Queen.

“It’s been great. It’s just a fantastic garden to work in.

“The first year is always a year of observation so I am going into my first winter where I can really come up with new things and new ideas.”

His ambitious plans will see more than 22,000 bulbs planted at Holker Hall and Gardens, near Cartmel, iover the next couple of weeks – weather-permitting. Matthew will be joined by five other garden team colleagues but admits it is a challenging time.

“We’ve had a slow start this year because of the weather,” he explains. “It’s challenging, working the wet garden.

Last year the team planted about 14 or 15,000 bulbs so this year’s 22,000-plus is one of the biggest amounts Holker has ever planted.

Despite the grand scale, Matthew, originally from Levens, says planting for Holker is not dissimilar to how you would plant at home.

“There’s no secret shortcut,” he said, “What we do just varies depending where we’re planting: if we’re planting in grass we will use a bulb planter; for the small areas where we plant small bulbs like crocus and some anemones, we plant those with a crowbar – we literally drop a metal bar in the ground and backfill that hole.

“When we are planting our pots we will take the soil down to a layer and then plant and cover the bulb. However, a lot of the time we will literally be on hands and knees with a trowel and plant one bulb at a time, especially if it gives us the best effect we want.”

The majority of bulbs being planted are tulips, the team won’t be planting any daffodils for the 2024 season, because they have seen success in naturalising – allowing the bulbs to spread naturally – the existing daffodil collection.

“Tulips are not very good at flowering a second time,” Matthew said. “Most varieties you get have not focused on repeat flowering. It also means we can change the display each year, so if you come this spring it will be totally different display to what you’ve seen previously.”