There are some colourful gems in the garden this month, including the very first plant – Guzmania conifera (1) – sitting on the Bromeliad ‘tree’ in the Tropical house, with its cone-shaped spike of orange-red flowers.
Next, continue through into the Sub-tropical house, and enter the garden via the terrace. Turn left and pass the café, continuing along Forest Walk towards the Rose Garden, to find a collection of fuchsias at the Lawn Aviary entrance. Take a look at Fuchsia fulgens (2) from Mexico and Costa Rica, which, with its sun-bird-pollinated clusters of long, orange-red flowers and the largest leaves in the genus, may be unlike any fuchsia you have seen before.
Leave the Rose Garden behind and turn left down past the woods to reach the Grass Garden, where the apricot-yellow flower spikes of Kniphofia ‘Tetbury Torch’ (3) can be admired. Continue downhill to the southern corner of the garden to discover the Growing Schools Garden, a demonstration of plants that could be grown with children. Admire the edible crops of Triticum aestivum (wheat) and Hordeum vulgare (barley) (4), the latter used for brewing beer, but also surprisingly ornamental with its many bristle-like awns.
Retrace your steps back up to the lower Grass Garden, taking the exit on the left through the orange-stemmed bamboos. Turn left at the subsequent junction, and follow the path towards the ‘Vegetable Theatre’ (behind the woven willow screen), with its purple-podded peas and other unusual varieties. On exiting the patch, take the first right off Cameron path to find an area of Gunnera manicata (giant rhubarb), but turning immediately left towards the Rock Garden, where water lilies thrive in the pool.
Exit the far-end of the Rock Garden via the narrow path on the left to rejoin Cameron path. Immediately turn right to climb up to the fountain, then take a sharp left down onto the West Lawn, and stroll along the vibrant herbaceous border. Look out for the slender white spikes of Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Album’ (5), the red and yellow flowers of Alstroemeria ‘Moulin Rouge’ (6), and in the border behind, Genista aetnensis (Mount Etna broom), swathed with yellow, pea-like flowers. Further along you will reach the South American bed, and the heather-like Fabiana imbricata forma violacea (7).
On reaching the Study Centre turn right into the Alpine Yard, enjoying the variety of colourful alpines, before ascending back to the main terrace. Continue along to the semi-circular succulent bed, where the glossy red-black rosettes of Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’ (8) can be found amongst other drought-adapted plants such as agaves and echeverias. Finally, return indoors via the barrel arch entrance, and take in the spectacular display of pelargoniums basking in the Mediterranean house.
The guide book, tree guide and a range of interpretation sheets can be viewed in the front entrance and are available for purchase from Reception.