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1 August 2018 - 5:36pm


Garden visiting I find is great for getting new ideas. We had a lovely weekend away last month in the Cotswolds and called by Hidcote Manor Gardens on the way. Lawrence Johnston bought Hidcote in 1907 and turned it into a beautiful garden with the support of his mother. Now it is owned by the National Trust. From the website: ‘Today income generated by approximately 175,000 people who visit Hidcote every year ensures the garden is maintained to a high standard, and that the beauty that Lawrence Johnston created between 1907 and 1948 will be preserved for future generations to enjoy’ In July the roses were gorgeous. By then the hot weather was beginning to dry our gardens up big time, so I was interested to see a ‘gardeners note’ explaining that they had thoroughly watered, and then mulched all the roses at the onset of the heatwave. All the evidence I’ve seen suggests that a really good soak less often is better for the plants and more environmentally responsible. Although if you have pots, they will need a regular water. We’ve put most of our pots in a group all together to make watering easier, they look good altogether too. A highlight for me at Hidcote was several large, informal borders with generous swathes of tall ferns interspersed with white Astrantia – it really did look magical on a big scale (see photo). I’m going to have a go at recreating the look here if I can get hold of a decent quantity of Astrantia in the autumn, I may have a go at growing some from seed. The hot, dry weather persists as I write in mid-July and there seems no prospect of rain. Plants that don’t seem to mind the conditions here at Charnwood are Sea Holly (Eryngiums), the Mediterranean herbs such as Rosemary and Thyme, as well as Sedum and Stachys byzantina, often covered in bees and butterflies. Lavender ‘Hidcote’ has been a star here as well, loving the sun. The ornamental grasses seem fine too. Best of all is my proud new addition, Paulownia tomentosa or the foxglove tree that has grown about two metres more in the last 2 months and now stands at around 4 metres tall. No flowers yet – I live in hope! The autumn bulb catalogues came through the letterbox on June this year. I saw a really pretty daffodil at the Malvern Show, N. ‘Moonlight Sensation’ so have ordered some for pots next year. It is a graceful triandrus narcissus meaning there is more than one flower per stem. I prefer the smaller, paler flowers to the big yellow trumpet varieties but each to their own. Daffodils prefer to be planted early in the new season; late August is not too soon. Tulips are better planted later, October at the earliest, or they end up failing. I’ve planted tulips I’ve found at the back of the shed in January and they have flowered, a bit later than usual, but no complaints about that. I hope by the time you are reading this we have had some rain. Preferably when we are in bed, gentle rain that continues all night, and every night time for about 2 weeks to refresh our poor baked gardens. But now I’m off to do some blooming watering again; oh the trials and tribulations of a plant obsessed gardener!