Gardener’s blog – August 2015

Our gardeners’ focus for the summer months is to keep the gardens looking colourful and lush for all of the events and weddings we have planned for the summer.

August is traditionally one of the warmest months of the year, but that doesn’t mean our senior horticulturalists, Chris and Wayne, can fully relax. Deadheading plants will continue this month to keep them looking nice and colourful as well as to encourage continued flowering.

Chris and her team of gardeners will cut back geraniums to boost a new flush of leaves and flowers in the next six weeks. Wisterias will also be pruned in the late summer and whippy green shoots of this year’s growth will be cut back to six buds.

This month we will be creating a new path to allow easier access to the Growing Schools Garden, which includes a stumpery and evolutionary garden that explores geological history and evolution. The new path will make the garden more accessible in wet weather.

The gardeners will be repotting Nerines and Cyclamen in August. The Cyclamen are very important to the gardens as we are looking to gain sought-after National Collection status.

Despite the gardens being a colourful paradise at the moment, a lot of thought is being put into planning next year’s displays. You can now start to take cuttings of tender perennials for your 2016 displays. We’re now deciding our bedding schemes for next summer and autumn as well as ordering bulbs for planting next season. You can expect to see Polyanthus, Daisies and Hyacinths amongst the grounds.

Senior horticulturalist, Wayne has been working hard on the Plant Evolution Trail, which is nearing completion and will be open to the public shortly. A new addition to the trail includes a mini paddy field of rice, which will demonstrate the arrival of grasses from 30million through to 60million years ago.

The carnivorous display will also be revamped this month as different water depths are introduced. This will enable the gardeners to grow a more diverse range of insectivorous plants.

A peanut plant will also be showcased in a transparent container to show them developing in the soil and a sensitive plant (Mimosa pudica) will demonstrate how some plants move. The leaves fold as a result of water, touch or air movement as it causes a chemical release. This encourages water to move out of cell vacuoles, leading to collapse. This evolved 9million – 10 million years ago as a defence against herbivores. Visitors will be inspired to learn about the impressive responses plants often show.

As for the gardeners’ favourite plants, Wayne suggests visiting the African basil this month as it releases a warm and spicy fragrance. Its indigo coloured flowers are a favourite with bees. You will find it in the western end of the newly renovated Mediterranean House along with an impressive display of new plants.

As for Chris, her favourites are anything that can be picked from the vegetable patch, as it should be coming up in abundance in August. She is particularly looking forward to picking courgettes, beans, onions, shallots and garlic and of course, you can eat the flowers from the Courgettes too.

If you’re snap-happy, remember to take a camera with you on your next visit. We are still on the look out for stunning photographs of our gardens to fill our 2016 calendar. If your photograph is picked, you will also win 12-month membership. Upload your snaps here.