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Is this the best time of the year for your garden?

My garden’s looking wonderful at the moment, even though its on a hilltop - and therefore slightly windswept - location means our plants seem to be a little later than elsewhere in the southwest of England.

I recently went to the Isle of Mull for a week with some friends. The weather was perfect, reinforcing my belief that there’s nowhere better than Scotland when the sun shines. The rhododendrons were out in force…strikingly beautiful, but they really do spread like wildfire and can be very invasive.

English bluebells were everywhere, including here on the golf course at Tobermory:

One disappointment was the discovery of Spanish bluebells at the abbey on the Isle of Iona. Having pointed this out by email to Historic Environment Scotland, I received this reply:

Thank you very much for your email, with regards Spanish Bluebells at Iona Abbey and highlighting their presence on the Island.  We were unaware that they were present in the garden and had probably been planted by a well-meaning, but uninformed staff member or volunteer.  As you rightly point out the last thing we want is to hybridise the native population and have taken immediate steps to remove, and I have copied in appropriate staff accordingly.

We are aiming to improve our native biodiversity on our sites and thank you again for your vigilance.

Kind Regards

Sarah Franklin | Landscape Manager | Conservation Directorate

Historic Environment Scotland | Àrainneachd Eachdraidheil Alba, Longmore House, Salisbury Place, Edinburgh, EH9 1SH

 

Coming back to Wiltshire, everything had grown and I’m pleased to say the beech hedging planted last winter looks great, wonderfully green and coming on nicely. It complements the beech hedge along our drive which was planted some 15 years ago.

The wallflowers are late and haven’t flowered yet, but I’m hoping warm weather will bring them along and we’ll see some yellows, reds and oranges to brighten up the garden. Here’s a rather lonesome wallflower making an appearance in anticipation of some friends soon.

Our roses are flowering prolifically, particularly the climbers which look fantastic. They need constant deadheading to keep on giving, so snip off flowers for a vase or cut the browning heads to a bud or 5 leaflet leaf below to encourage more buds. The climbing rose will need tying in if it grows too much.

My mother’s favourite rose, Fritz Nobis, is doing well and the flowers are absolutely heavenly. Here are the blooms of one I bought from Ashridge in February and gave my wife for Valentine’s Day:

Elsewhere the self-seeders are extraordinary; the poppies have gone mad and look utterly majestic when in flower. Like all gardeners I love a freebie and all these wonderful self-seeders are just freebie gifts from nature!  Foxgloves are arch self-seeders and a haven for bees to boot; this photo captures the magic of a bee buzzing in and out of the flowers, making me feel rather proud that our garden plants are helping the bees and other pollinators that are so important for our apple trees and other crops.

Poppies

Bee disappearing into foxglove flower

The white wisteria is looking stunning. Even though it’s now going over a little bit the blossoms of white waving in the wind are still a source of great happiness. The vine seems to be doing alright, although nothing will probably compare with the delicious grapes we had last year, thanks to the warmest summer for more than 40 years.

We’ve dug up some of the tulip bulbs from our pots so they can be stored for next season and the pots used for planting other flowers such as cosmos.

The lavender is in full bud and looks as though it will flower in the next couple of weeks. It’s not too late to buy lavender now and my wife has indicated that she wants to plant some more lavender at the end of this month or the beginning of July.

The silver birch trees we planted more than 15 years ago on either side of the drive are looking great – green, lustrous and in almost rude health! Here’s a photo with the Westbury White Horse in the background:

Our horse chestnut is also doing well near the pond, as well as a wizened old willow which also loves being right next to the water.

       

My wife loves her vegetable patch and last year we revamped it, getting rid of the wooden raised beds as the wood had rotted and using some spare limestone to create raised beds enclosed in stone. We love the result – not only does it look much better but stones don’t rot!

So it’s time to enjoy your garden when it may well be looking its best. Keeping on top of everything is vital, but sitting back, taking pride in the fruits of your labours and delighting in a summer’s evening outside is surely equally important.

Mark Cadbury

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