Monday, 30 July 2012

Richard's July Garden Notes...

The other day the garden almost spoke…weird I know; but bear with me. During this very wet summer it has grown luscious and green; but it was almost saying it couldn’t do any more, some flowers were rotting before they opened (Larkspurs and Roses) and the Euphorbia palustris browning off, not getting a chance to show off its Autumn charms this year. Keeping Roses deadheaded and looking good has been a job in itself. The garden was poised between more rain and a season written off against the hope of summer sun, and what could possibly be an exceptional season of damp soil and higher temperatures. The team have carried on regardless; it is imperative that this is so, if not then any improvement in weather wouldn’t have made a difference.

Well dare I say it; but I hope after these last few days we’ve turned a corner. Today especially (23rd July) has been wonderful. The garden is lifted and it’s lovely to see light and shade in places like the Laburnum Walk; the lack of sun has highlighted my awareness to the importance of shadows. It wasn’t all doom and gloom, many plants were still in party mood, they just needed more pampering, e.g the Roses. I also still managed to catch drifts of Lime blossom perfume on rare still and warmish moments, something to savour; every year I need at least one hit of it.

As you look at the house from the garden side the two beds that sit either side are bed 1 (left) and bed 2 (right). Bed 1 is white, blues and yellows provided by Centranthus, Geranium ‘Brookside’ and a Margarite respectively. The Margarite was given to us by Beth’s (one of our gardener's) dad. Star of bed 1 at the moment is the pale blue and white bracts that adorn the flower spikes of Salvia sclarea (Clary Sage), it is a short lived perennial that we grow from seed most years. Golden ‘African Queen’ lilies are just opening also.

Bed 2 is more pinks and purples provided by Penstemons, Salvias, Erodium mainscaulii, as well as newly planted Hybrid Musk Rose ‘Felicia’. Cutting back will take place in parts of this bed where Geraniums have got above their station; namely some of the G x oxonianum varieties and G. psilostemon. This not only encourages tidy clumps of regrowth but exposes slugs and snails to my attentions as well as giving more space to the new plantings of Roses and Perennials such as Aster ‘Little Carlow’ in Bed 2. The white Lilium regale have been flowering for a month now, they laughed in the rain’s face. Lily beetle, fingers crossed, has not been a major problem yet along with Mullien Moths that can strip Verbascums - this may be because of all the cold and rain?

The ‘L’ bed behind bed 2 has been planted up with  Rugosa Roses and a deep pink Modern English Rose ‘Wild Edric’ that looks like a Rugosa; but repeat flowers well. Whilst the ‘L’-bed gets established Larkspurs ‘Exquisite Mixed’ and three tall teepees of Sweet Peas pad it out. The Sweet Peas were sown last October and planted out in March.

The Temple Garden, with it’s pond, had it’s old paving lifted and relaid. The pond has also had it’s leak fixed and a solid coped edge put on. Important, established plants like the Magnolia and the ‘Cecille Brunner’ Rose on the railings and the ‘Seven Sisters’ rose on the wall with the plaque have been kept; but some new planting has been added. Paeoni delavayi, the Tree Paeoni was also kept; but any old and tired planting was lifted and the spaces dug over, de-rooted and planted up. Mrs Verey had intimated that she would have liked a Rose Garden so this is the direction we took.

Looking at the Temple on the right running from the railings are the pink roses of ‘Harlow Carr’, ‘The Lady’s Blush’ and ‘Cariad’, taller growing ‘A Shropshire Lad’ is peachy pink and in the corner where railings run to the wall. Right along the wall towards the fig is the almost  thornless climbing rose ‘Zepherine Drouhin’, this particular specimen was planted way before my time; but it’s the best I’ve seen it since we pruned the Fig hard back.

On the way down the grassy allee that runs from the Temple Garden to the frog fountain a good clump of White Willowherb holds sway. Further down the Broad border too has plenty of interest from the dark Bergamot ‘Kardinal’ to the yellow Catmint Nepeta govaniana, for me though the grassy green foliage of Selenium wallichianum; a cousin of our Cow Parsley looks stunning and yet to flower!

Over in the Potager Ed is now box clipping and planting; the Crimson Flowered Broad Beans out and the Red Bor kale taking their place. Lavender too is being discreetly picked and bunched by Beth to go in rooms. Not far away in the Kitchen, Garden Mark is taking advantage of the July heat and hoeing; weed control is back on track. The  sun also has come out just in time for the ‘Glen Magna’ Raspberries. Wet weather would have been the kiss of death, but timely sun has meant that we’ve picked at least 20kg already of this large and quite long fruited variety.

We grow two varieties of Garlic…’Thermidrome’ a commercial variety and ‘Chesnock’ that is a smaller and tighter bulb which I prefer the look of. Other vegetables that are going to the kitchens include….

  • In the tunnels the Tomatoes are starting to show some colour, not quite ready; but beneath their canopies is a really good crop of Florence Fennel ‘Romanesco’ and ‘Sweet Genovese’ Basil.
  • Three varieties of Courgette…bright yellow and spherical ‘Floridor’, long and yellow ‘Atena Polka’ and the traditional dark green ‘All Green Bush’. Graham is serving these roasted with the Tomato Tart. The Courgettes have taken a while to settle in during this cold and wet summer; but it looks like they’re going to crop well. There’s also the flowers too.
  • Summer Cabbage ‘Golden Acre’ has done particularly well, as are the other leaf crops of Spinach and Rainbow Chard, juicy and lush with all the rain. We also have some succulent looking New Zealand Spinach that Graham say’s ‘holds a dressing well’.
  • Beetroot ‘Boltardy’ is on stream and less orthodox varieties are nearly there such as ‘Golden’, Chiogga’, ‘Cheltenham Greentop’ and ‘Cylindra’.
  • Spring Onion ‘White Lisbon’ goes up regularly to the kitchens and we’ve started pulling some ‘Long Red Florence’ onions too- this is a much larger onion. I think Michael Croft, Executive Chef Director, likes these roasted.
  • We also have very lush Parsley ’Giant of Napoli’, so green and healthy that just looking at it provides one of your ‘five a day’.
  • Ed has really got a production line going with the ‘micro-greens & salads’ such as Pea Shoots, Fine Curled Cress, Mustard ‘Red Giant’, Kailaan and Thousand Head Kale.

Last week I heard the characteristic noise that Swallows and Martins make when a predator is in their midst, usually a Sparrowhawk or Kestrel; but these aerial assasins are not a realistic threat to a bird of the Swallow or Martin’s capabilities. This time they needed to be afraid for a Hobby was coming in low level over the garden and in true Spitfire style swept upwards singling out one of the Swallows, a sprint upwards by the duo culminated in the prospective prey losing their pursuer by a clever jink and the Hobby carried on by it’s momentum knew the battle was lost. A little piece of theatre played out by two visitors to our shores…summer’s here, well at least for the next few days!

No comments:

Post a Comment