And so to mulberries and plums

The grass is brown and a few plants are suffering, but there colour in the Italian garden, particularly from the Helenium and waterlilies, and in the dahlia border in the walled kitchen garden. And the mulberries and plums are sweeter than ever!

We are watering the priority plants and trees and hoping for rain…and lots of visitors to buy our plums, potatoes, beans, courgettes, etc!


Volunteers and visitors enjoying the cooler weather

After that mad heatwave, it was great to be able to get stuff done outside again! Watering particularly vulnerable plants was of course a priority – many of our favourite herbaceous plants can cope with the heat and of course the squashes and sweetcorn love it. So there is still plenty of colour in the Gardens and volunteers and visitors were treated to lots of lovely butterflies and moths. But other plants have definitely been stressed and lots of deadheading was needed. Some trees are also clearly suffering – hopefully they can be saved.


Keeping cool

We have got a lot of work done this week, so the Gardens are looking good for this Sunday’s Open Day, when we will have a range of activities and music, in the shade, to take a moment to remember the Gardens and the surrounding area in the World Wars. We have been watering as much as we can, so there will be produce on sale too.

We are lucky that we have lots of shade at the Gardens, so on another sunny Thursday, volunteers, visitors and wildlife were seeking out that shade under the trees and for the toad, under the geraniums!


Our lovely relic

The Periploca graeca (silk vine) is our relic from Peto’s enormous treillage pergolas across the croquet lawn. It is covered in these lovely small purple flowers, which then turn into oversized silk lined seed pods. It is in a lovely shady spot, so probably is not baking in this heatwave!

Sue and others managed to get lots of watering done this week, before retreating to the shade. We are hoping for rain overnight so the Gardens get watered and our veg crop continues to plump up in time for the 26 June Open Day, but without spoiling visitors’ enjoyment of the Gardens in the meantime!


Wild flowers as stunning as the ornamentals

We have been watching and waiting for the wild orchids to flower – and these bee orchids are as stunning as we hoped and the spotted orchids have definitely multiplied since we started a wild-flower mowing regime on the bank. The self-seeded foxgloves are also beautiful, with a whole array of them in the corner of the walled kitchen garden, and the poppies are coming. The specimen plants are also very showy at the moment, such as the Voodoo Lily and the Crambe cordifolia in the formal flower beds in the Italian Garden, and the Ixia peeping out of the Love-in-the-mist in the cut flower bed in the walled kitchen garden.  And we still have flowers on the trees too – the Indian Horse Chestnut is looking magnificent and the Robinia, false acacia, with its beautiful pink flowers is one of my favourites.

As the Gardens were looking so lovely and we had our first harvests of veg, it was a real pleasure to welcome lots of visitors this week, including the Cambridgeshire Garden Trust and the Much Hadham WI.


It’s iris season

The irises are standing proud at the side of the lilypond – unfortunately, though, we are not yet winning the battle against the algae, so the waterlilies don’t look quite as beautiful as they should! The yellow flags in the stumpery, blue irises in the Italian garden and others in the borders all  stand out from the green leaves and have their own distinctive markings.

This week volunteers planted more squashes, beans and dahlias, so we are keeping our fingers crossed that the forecast cold snap is not too cold, that we get some rain to help them establish and that the snails look elsewhere for their lunch!

It is lovely to see the damselflies and dragonflies back in the Gardens and the lavender and herbs were buzzing.


The wonder of alliums

This week volunteers worked really hard to ready the Gardens for the Open Day this Sunday, 22 June. Weeding to allow the alliums to get star billing. Also looking lovely are the last tulips, the first roses and the helianthemum borders in the Italian garden; the rhododendrons and acers in the Japanese garden; and the artichokes in the walled kitchen garden – so long as the squirrels stay off them!

There was also lots of planting – hopefully we will not be struck by the huge number of slugs and snails that were out and about last year, but we have already lost some courgettes. Our Daisy’s crew have been baking and cleaning the cabin, ready for Sunday.  So, we are all set now!



It’s raining gold

The laburnum walk is looking spectacular – confusingly there are two different trees that are sometimes called Golden Rain trees. The Gardens also had the other one, the Koelreuteria paniculata, or Pride of India, but it was lost and the replacement is taking a long time to grow to any size.

It was a glorious day at the Gardens – fresh from the recent rain. But not sufficiently wet that we didn’t have to spend half the day watering! The apple blossom is now joined by the quince; and we can start to see how much fruit has been set on the plums and cherries. We are hopeful that frosts are now finished, so Sam and Richard are refreshing the dahlia border and we are getting ready to plant out tender veg.


It is bluebell season!

The current seasonal joy is bluebells – we have them in the Glade and these white bluebells in the bed near the entry! The Gardens are greening up every day now, with the leaves on the acers the definite winners for colour and the walnuts the most splendid catkins! The daffodils have given way to the cowslips, in the Glade, and the Italian Garden has tulips and the first roses, set against the greens of the euphorbia and solomon seal. In the kitchen garden the blossom on the bramley apple tree is the best for a number of years.

So it was lovely to welcome Havering U3A as well as local and international visitors to the Gardens; and lots of gardening jobs got done too.



What a year for tulips

The daffodils are withering early this year in the hot dry April weather, but the tulips are thriving, bringing fantastic splashes of colour to the Italian garden. In the Glade there are cowslips all over the place, orchids are coming up in the grass and the fresh leaves on the trees are stunning, include a lovely amber acer in the memorial garden as well as brilliant green acers in the Japanese style garden. In the kitchen garden the bramley apple has more blossom than I remember from other years.

It was a gorgeous day for gardening and visitors, like summer but warm rather than hot! Lots of tidying was done in advance of the open day this Sunday, 24 April.

acer buds

Beautiful buds

Have you ever noticed that buds are as beautiful as the leaves or flowers that follow?

This week volunteers got a few jobs done before the winds grew stronger and the Gardens had to be closed. We have lost trees already this year and cannot leave volunteers or visitors at risk in very high winds.


After the blizzard, the sun shone!

Unexpectedly today the sun was warm for volunteers and visitors who found sheltered spots in the Italian Garden and the walled kitchen garden. The daffodils were looking a bit sorry for themselves, flattened by the wind, but they usually bounce back. And it is lovely to see the first flowers on the magnolias we have planted and the fresh leaves on older trees, including our favourite acer. And the tulips are readying themselves for flowering… maybe they will colour up for visitors next Thursday.

Jobs completed this week: final (?) tree planting; dividing perennials; pruning and tidying; cutting grass edges; planting out rosemary cuttings; stripping down the mower; and mending bin covers….  not bad for a cold day.