It’s June in the Garden and the gardening season is now in full flow! And so are the weeds.
In the dining room shrubbery we now have a great mass of growth, with columbines (red & pink) in the foreground, and willow herb, sweet rocket and campanulas in the middle- none of yet in flower, but making a great deal of leafy growth almost daily. It has been a very cool spring, and everything is about two weeks later than usual. Looking at the garden in June newsletter for 2015 there was a blaze of colour from the sweet rocket, the willow herb (Gilbert’s French Willows’) was in bud and the Persian lilac, Syringa persica was just going out of bloom- this year it hasn’t been long out in flower! Also in flower is the ‘common yellow jasmine’- not the winter jasmine of today but a yellow summer flowering variety Jasminum fruticans. Although neater & more compact than the Italian jasmine (J.humile) it was falling out of popularity by the mid 18th century ‘for as the flowers have no scent, few people regard them’
This is likely to be the last time we see this border in its present form, as in the Lottery project there are plans to create a view across the garden from the new tea parlour building which is to be built on the site of the old field centre- our old garden headquarters, now uninhabitable because of a leaking roof! The plan is to restore the old pathway that used to run under the old kitchen window, through a pair of rustic gates (in the early 19th century picture that exists with curved style hinge end- sometimes called a ‘Midhurst style’ gate) into the yard. This would involve removing the much more recent yew hedge and arch (which seems to have been added in the 1960’s) and replacing it with a paling fence. Exciting changes!
To return to the present garden, down by the old kitchen the catmint is coming into bloom, whilst by the magnolia the Ranunculus are making rapid progress and the big colourful buds swelling daily. The wooden benches by the two bay windows have been washed clean with a power washer, as have several others on the top of Bakers Hill. By Bell’s library windows the dragon arums (Dracunculus vulgaris) are unfurling- spectacular, deep maroon flowers, but unpleasant scent!
In the wall border in the six quarters there is a good display of sweet rocket and hedgerow cranesbill (Geranium pyrenaicum) growing pretty rampantly… along with quite a few weeds! Some might say ‘other weeds’ the rate that, in particular, the cranesbill grows. It’s thought that it might be native, although it was first recorded in the wild in 1762 -and not at all by Gilbert White, or Philip Miller in his garden dictionary of 1768. Peter Yeo, in his specialist book entitled ‘Hardy Geraniums’(2001) describes it as ‘A quite attractive plant for the wild garden’ (!) Another wild plant out in flower here too is the greater celandine, Chelidonium majus, (nothing like the little lesser celandine,which we know so well from grassland and hedgerows, Ranunculus ficaria, now known as Ficaria verna) the double form ‘Flore Pleno’ has persisted since I grew it from seed many years ago. It has deep yellow, cup shaped double flowers, much showier than the single flowered version.
In the NW Arundo quarter (This too on the list for refurbishment) the silver leaved cardoons, now three feet tall, grow strongly amongst the columbines, red campion, hollyhocks and small teasels: but there is also a great deal of weed, especially cleavers, to be tackled here. In the North Rose quarter there are more hollyhocks (it’ll soon be staking time) pulmonaria (now going over) and the early monkshood (the anglicum group of Aconitum napellus subsp napellus) now in full beautiful pale bluey mauve flower. There’s some deep blue tuberous iris in bloom, the tuberous or Xiphium iris of Gilbert White, sometimes called the Spanish or English iris- nomenclature of this group, for so long cultivated, is a little confused! The NE (Tulip tree) quarter has the fragrant day lily in bloom (Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus). This beautiful elegant small flowered (comparatively) pale yellow day lily is part of a very large list of cultivars of the plant to be found in the latest edition of the RHS plant finder: there must be nearly 2,000 Day lilies there, they have really taken the imagination of the hybridiser! They are not true lilies of the lily family, of course, but the flowers do resemble lilies, and yes, they do only last for about a day- with usually plenty more to come. Here also is a plant of goats beard or wild salsify. Rather like the purple flowered cultivated salsify, which seeds all over the garden.
The park is looking stunning, a mass of yellow buttercups mingled with other wild flowers at this time of the year. New paths have been cut and a oblong to accommodate firstly the wedding fayre and secondly vehicles for Nature day last Saturday. Soon a bigger area will be mown for the plant fair, approaching with astonishing (frightening!) speed. Tim has rebuilt in concrete (so it won’t rot!) the base to Hercules- a big job, done mainly alone, so very many thanks Tim for all your hard work!) Mike has done a fine job cutting down the weeds below the big yew tree at the bottom of Bakers hill, whilst Peter and Arnold have been busy hanging the new gates and erecting new gate posts. Peter has now hung the last gate- a very fine job carried out with skill and precision, all the more challenging by the fact that many of the posts were, er, not exactly vertical. Farmer David Ashcroft has helped to straighten some of the posts with his machinery, and also ( perhaps most importantly) sawn up and moved the huge bough of the Cedar of Lebanon that was blocking the path after the Easter storm Katie had ripped it off. The largest piece, ( weighing about 3 tons!) has been moved to the far corner of the park near the stile from the Ewel field to Love Lane, where it will be made by a sculptor into a seat with a fine views of the house and gardens. Smaller logs are still stacked near the tree and one larger section is placed outside the hedge near the Holm Oak. We are tremendously grateful to David for all his hard work, all voluntary, in connection with this tree.
On Bakers hill there are plenty of flowers on the Golden pippin apple trees, yellow pea flowers on the Scorpionsennas. At this time of year, the straight path up the hill is like a tunnel, with sumachs, roses honeysuckles and other shrubs arching across the narrow grass (mud?) walk. In the Kitchen garden Keith and volunteers have been busy planting, hoeing and taking out new ground to expand the veg plot. There are now a large number of useful crops for the tea parlour, including potatoes, onions, endive, lettuce, beans, skirret, rhubarb (now a big collection!) gooseberries and raspberries. All is nicely edged and labelled, with some new slate signs with Garden Kalendar quotes on and paths neatly mown, as is the newly laid out labyrinth with Timothy Tortoise sculpture in the middle. The melons and cucumbers are growing well (and rapidly, especially the cucumbers!)
Find out more about our Graden events this month!
9th June: Open Garden
18th-19th: Unusual Plants Fair
18th: Rose Evening