The Original Garden Visitor's Guide

Sue's Garden - June Jottings

Welcome back everyone. How did you get on in May? It is fair to say that down here in South-east England there has been a mixed bag of weather. One day it has been scorching hot and then it has been cold enough that the heating has had to go on in the evening! So, I have held off until the very last minute planting out bedding plants for some of my clients and luckily the cold nights didn't affect them...phew, as one of my clients had over 100 new plants placed in pots, beds and borders!

Now; what jobs should we be doing in the garden at this time of year? Well you need to carry on with the weeding, feeding and watering, but from now on you should also be dead heading, either by pinching out with the fingers or pruning. If you haven't already mulched your borders or pots, this needs to be done now. It will help to retain moisture in the soil and provide extra nutrition for your plants, that is, of course, if you are using good composted mulch. If you are just using decorative mulch, i.e. stones or slate or bark chippings, these will of course help to retain moisture but not provide nutrition, so don't forget to give your plants a feed, especially if they are in pots! Sorry to go on about the pots again, I think that is because I have so many! And of course use a multi-purpose feed which contains N, P & K (Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium).

June 2016

Compton Acres May 2016
Compton Acres May 2016

Right, now that the work is done, let’s move on to my ‘Plant of the Month’.  I was fortunate in May to be able to visit Exbury Gardens and they are famous for their stunning displays of Azaleas and Rhododendrons, so without doubt these have to be my favourite plants of the past month.  I took a number of photographs showcasing their dazzling beauty, especially where you see so many of them grouped together.  Have a look at the photographs I took on my visit.

I actually managed to visit three gardens in May ... Compton Acres in Bournemouth, Exbury Gardens near Southampton and Dyffryn Gardens in South Wales.

Compton Acres is a delightful place to visit. I went on the first Bank Holiday weekend in May when their Japanese weekend was taking place.  They had a guide giving a talk in the Japanese garden and in the Plant Centre they had Acers and miniature Pines for sale, ideal for small gardens, bonsai and rockeries.  The Japanese garden itself was looking stunning with colourful Acers and Azaleas, lush growth everywhere.

Compton Acres has been designed to take you on a circular route, thus enabling you to walk round and discover the gardens.  The ornamental garden was built in 1920 on a 10 acre site.  The original gardens were created by Thomas Simpson who bought the site and then set about creating the gardens which would remind him of his overseas travels.  There are five main gardens to walk through...these are the Italian garden, the wooded valley, the rock and water gardens, the heather garden and the Japanese garden. The gardens work really well together and it is a lovely surprise when you walk from one area to the next.  As a first time visitor I was in awe of its beauty.  It is hard to imagine that all these gardens were created in just 10 acres of land and when you are walking through them, especially the wooded valley, you could be in the middle of a vast forest.  My favourite garden was the Japanese garden.  A lovely slice of Japan with a tea house and viewing platform, pagoda and lantern.  The all important water with stepping stones was there too. The planting is exquisitely placed and very well balanced throughout this stunning garden.

Exbury Gardens is a wonderful woodland garden, and is the perfect place for Rhododendrons and Azaleas to grow and this is very evident throughout this verdant and lush woodland garden.

On the day I visited, it really felt like summer had begun. It was a glorious day, bathed in sunshine and so perfect for walking through these stunning gardens.  The Rhododendrons and Azaleas sparkled like clusters of gemstones amongst the woodland.  The trees with their statuesque beauty were a sight to behold.  There are many rare and unusual trees in this woodland garden.

The garden is maintained very well and has a natural easy flow to it.  Nothing seems contrived or out of place, just the opposite.  This is a garden which has something for everyone ... whether you are a family, a dog walker, a gardener or a horticulturist.

I shall be visiting again in the Autumn as I do not want to miss those autumnal colours in the garden.

Wisteria at Dyffryn

Dyffryn gardens in South Wales is unique in its collection of plants from the Victorian and Edwardian plant hunting era. It certainly was looking very beautiful in May. Carpets of tulips surrounded by Myosotis (Forget-me-nots) and Wisteria in flower clambering around and up the colonnades of the house and in the Pompeian Garden. A beautiful combination of planting. The courtyard garden with its topiaried box and beds of tulips is meticulously planted and carefully maintained to keep it looking neat and tidy. No small task! Because there had been a good combination of recent rain and sunshine in South Wales, everything had burst into life and all the plants looked so lush and healthy. In terms of plant growth, this year has to be one of the best years for plant growth, certainly down here in West Sussex. There have been a lot of changes taking place at Dyffryn. Areas of woodland have been opened up to reveal previously hidden views across parts of the garden. Restoration of the gardens continue and eventually the garden will be restored to its original design, created by owner Reginald Cory and landscape designer Thomas Mawson at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Later in June I will be heading back to South Wales to visit the National Botanic Gardens and Aberglasney amongst others and I will be writing about those in my next jottings, along with garden jobs for you to tackle in July. Happy gardening and garden visiting. Sue x

Dyffryn - Looking out from the house - Photo Sue Liassides