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The Original Garden Visitor's Guide

Sue's Garden - September Jottings

Welcome back everyone.  How did you get on in August? Did you manage to get out and about and visit some gardens, or has work on your own garden taken up all of your time; perhaps you managed to do both?

So what are the things which keep us busy in our own gardens at this time of year? Well, I have been pretty busy weeding, especially where bindweed has been a problem. Bindweed has grown at an alarming rate this year in some of the gardens I work in. Where I can, I have dug up the roots of this pernicious weed and I have also put a systemic weedkiller on them, just where they are showing above the soil. This does work, but you have to keep checking the area for other spots of re-growth.

The weather has been incredibly dry here in the South and in other eastern parts of the UK (sorry for those of you in the West who have had a lot of wet weather) which means you have to be constantly keeping on top of the watering, especially where your pots are concerned. This can mean nutrients and minerals leach out of pots and containers, so it is important to keep on top of the feeding regime.

Sue's September Image

Spetchley Park
Spetchley Park, August 2016.
Buddleja Crispa
Buddleja Crispa

I have also been deadheading, to prolong the flowering of bedding plants and perennials, for example, Lysimachias, Geraniums and Stachys. Deadheading tidies up the plant and also helps get it ready for new growth next year.

The next few weeks into autumn are a good time to split up plants such as these, allowing you to redistribute them in other parts of your garden, or to give away to friends and family, or perhaps at your local garden club.

Dividing plants is pretty simple, firstly dig up a clump, then place two forks back to back in the centre of the clump and simply prise apart. Keep doing this until you have as many clumps as you need.

My plant of the month for September has to be Buddleja crispa.  I saw this beauty in full flower just a couple of weeks ago on a visit to Kiftsgate Court in The Cotswolds. It has lovely greeny-white-felted leaves and fragrant lilac-coloured flowers which are adored by butterflies.

A three-day break from work in August allowed me time to visit the Cotswolds and see three gardens, Hidcote, Kiftsgate and Sezincote,  which you can read about in a separate article.

In the jottings, I want to tell you about visits to Spetchley Park and a brief unplanned visit to the Ernest Wilson Memorial garden in Chipping Camden.

Spetchley Park Gardens, set in the beautiful Evesham Vale, on a gloriously warm day. My first stop (after a cup of refreshing tea in the garden of Old Laundry tea rooms) was to pay homage to the magnificent giant redwood, Sequoiadendron giganteum located near the large Georgian mansion, which was constructed in the Palladian style in 1811 on the site of an earlier building. On the south-facing façade of the mansion were hundreds of swallows with their young chicks, all basking in the sunlight and warmth radiating from the light-coloured Bath stone.

The mansion faces south towards a large lake which is fed by a watercourse crossed by a delightful white iron bridge. I couldn't tear myself away from this spot, the reflections of the bridge and surrounding trees so lovely in the water. Apparently the lake is full of eels! The lake is an extension to the original moat and restoration to the lake was only completed in 2015.

Near to the water is a magnificent specimen of Lucombe Oak and if you look closely you may even find a fairy door amongst the roots of a nearby tree!

There are many other unusual trees at Spetchley, including a very big, old Cork Oak tree Quercus suber, Pinus cembra the Swiss Pine, a Cucumber Magnolia Magnolia acuminata and a Varnish tree Rhus Verniciflua.

Spetchley also has a circular rose garden which is surrounded by a circle of young white-barked birch. The roses planted here include Rosa 'Chevy Chase' which are being trained to grow up and around a frame designed like a hoop.

Nearby, there is a delightful old conservatory packed with tender exotics and climbers all basking in the august heat, including Plumbago, Abutilon and the Australian Bower Plant Pandorea jasminoides.

Behind the conservatory is the Fountain Garden which is split into quadrants with yew hedging. In recent times the yew has been fronted with Campanulas, something, which in my opinion, does not work as a planting scheme.

Spetchley Park
Spetchley Park
Spetchley Park
Spetchley Park

By contrast, one of the newest features at Spetchley is the Millennium Garden and it is accessed via a beautiful archway covered in Cercis 'Forest Pansy'. Now this, with its deep wine-red leaves backlit by sunlight, really does work and at the centre of the garden is a lovely water fountain. Growing on an adjacent pergola walkway is a purple vine which compliments the Cercis perfectly.

Other features at Spetchley include the Horse Pool, which in past centuries was used to cool off the horses when they returned from long journeys. Today, it is home for ducks and a place for lovely water lilies to grow. The nearby walled garden contains the Melon Yard which houses many unusual tender plants, including Punica granatum 'Flore Pleno', the double-flowering pomegranate, Ricinis and Cannas and Campsis radicans the trumpet vine which can be seen trailing over the red brick yard wall.

Although not in flower during my visit, Spetchley reputedly has the largest private collection of peonies in the country and the best time to see them is in May to early June. I found some lovely unusual plants, trees and shrubs at Spetchley Park, but in truth I came away a little disappointed at how parts of the garden were under maintained. The garden is beautiful but I felt that they were struggling to keep up with the pruning and tidying ... it felt in parts as if they were one step away from the gardens becoming neglected.

One unplanned and rather quick visit was to the Ernest Wilson Memorial Garden in Chipping Campden. It is a beautiful, slightly hidden away garden, which is of course dedicated to the memory of Ernest Henry Wilson (1876-1930) one of Britain's greatest plant collectors. The garden has some absolute gems, representing plants which he discovered and introduced to this country following his travels to China. These are just some of the plants I noted whilst I was walking around: Corydalis Cheilanthifolia, Sorbus prattii, Nyssa sinensis, Lilium henryi, Dipteronia sinensis, Cotoneaster divaricatus, Viburnum henryi, Sycopsis sinensis, Sinalcia tangutica, Ilex peryni, Davidii involucrata, Prunus serrula, Acer griseum and there were many more.

I shall be visiting more gardens later this month and look forward to telling you all about them in my October Jottings.

Until then, Happy gardening and garden visiting.
Sue x

Ernest Wilson Memorial Garden