August at Aberglasney
As all our thoughts begin to turn to August I can’t help thinking what a July we have had. Some much needed rain in the first part of the month followed by the gloriously hot, sunny and dry spell- too hot for some, I think. I don’t know about you but I have had a very busy month out of the garden. Firstly I have played a lot of football but unfortunately ran out of steam in the last game! Then came the new cricket competition which has me completely hooked and now we are into the Olympics with its more than thirty different sports- I feel worn out just thinking about it! Fortunately the garden tasks for July have not been too onerous and we have been able to do most jobs either straight after breakfast or late in the evening when it has been a little cooler. The garden itself responded well to the rain and then the sun and has been full of flower and colour this month. We actually managed a few days away from the garden in the middle of the month thanks to our wonderful neighbour who kindly looks after the greenhouse, pots and bonsai trees when we do venture away. On our return the garden had literally blossomed. The Buddleja which had one or two flowers when we left was full of flower just a few days later, the pink climbing rose, Rosa ‘High Hopes’ was just as good, the Hostas had suddenly opened their spikes of mauve flowers and the Hypericums which had been all bud when we left were just a mass of yellow on our return.
Buddleja davidii / Rosa ‘High Hopes’
In other parts of the garden the Betony, Stachys officinalis, was full of its pink-purple flowers on long stalks, the Hydrangeas were beginning to show some flower colour and hardy Geraniums, Cosmos, Ammi and Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion) were adding their own interest and colour.
Betony, Stachys officinalis / Sambucus ‘Black Lace’, Penstemon ‘Raven and Ammi major
The Lychnis were sown last year from seed which we had been given and as a biennial grew into sturdy, grey-leaved plants which sat happily through the winter and then started to flower beautifully in late June this year. One patch by pure chance are the white variety with a hint of pink in some of the petals while two other clumps are the more usual dark pink colour. We will collect the seed when it is ripe to make sure that we have more plants in years to come. The Cosmos and Ammi as annuals were sown this year in the spring and planted out at the end of May. Cosmos is widely grown either from seed or from garden centre plants and reliably produces large, colourful flowers in white or various shades of pink above finely-cut foliage. All it needs is a sunny spot and dead heading to keep it flowering. We grow a dwarf variety, Cosmos ‘Sonata Dwarf Mix’. Ammi is perhaps less well known, we grow Ammi ‘Snowflake’, but I would definitely recommend it. It can be sown direct in April or, as we do, into pots for planting out when the chance of frost has gone. It grows quite tall and has beautiful, flattish heads of tiny, pure white flowers and is a wonderful addition to the middle or back of a border in the sun.
In addition towards the end of the month we also had flowers on the two Penstemons, P. ‘Sour Grapes’ and P. ‘Raven’ and even on one of the Japanese Anemones, Anemone ‘September Charm’, which is always a little surprising at this time of year. The whole garden just looked full and luxuriant, very different from the beginning of the month and we were certainly pleased that just before we went away we had added some more metal plant supports to the taller herbaceous plants.
Most of the plants mentioned above and in particular the Hydrangeas will of course continue to grace our August garden together with some others which at the moment are still in bud rather than flower. These include our two Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ which have now reached the top of the wooden obelisks I made for them over the winter, the Eryngium planun (Sea Holly) which has just started to show some of its steely blue colour and a yellow-flowered Helenium. We will also continue to enjoy the grasses which have been flowering for some time now including Miscanthus, Helictotrichon sempervirens (Blue Oat), Calamagrostis and Pennisetum.
Sea Holly, Eryngium planum
I thought that our garden had changed dramatically through July but the garden at Aberglasney has changed even more despite the lack of rain in the middle part of the month. The ‘hot’ bed at the entrance, for example, has really filled out since our last visit and is now a riot of reds, yellows, oranges and purples from Canna, Dahlia, Salvia and Banana. Similarly the Pool bed near the Tearooms has grown on beautifully but with a very different colour scheme dominated by white and pink Dahlias, white Ammi, purple Salvia and some love ‘hairy’ grasses.
The exotic entrance bed / The Pool summer border
Ammi and Grasses moving in the wind / Salvia, White Dahlias and Ammi major
Lovely Dahlias in the Pool Garden summer border
Just around the corner from here is the Sunken Garden where the changes have possibly been even greater with the Wisteria Tunnel in particular being transformed by the bright red of Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, reds and yellows of Hemerocallis (Day Lily), hardy Geraniums and Heleniums all spilling over the edge of the central path and by the lovely Clematis and Lathyrus (Everlasting Pea) on the arches and wall to one side.
A riot of colour along the Wisteria arches / A lovely combination of Helenium and Clematis
The Upper Walled Garden is also in a state of transition between early and late summer with many of the early flowers now turning to seed and the later August flowerers just coming into bud and giving a hint of what is to follow. Height as always is provided by the stately Yew pillars but also at this time of year by the seed heads of the early flowering Thalictrums, Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’), the Giant Oat (Stipa gigantea) as well as by the rapidly growing, taller herbaceous perennials such as Eupatorium purpureum (Joe Pye Weed), Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ and Aconitum (Monkshood) all of which will begin to dominate the planting as August advances.
Thalictrum seed heads / Eupatorium purpureum (Joe Pye Weed)
In late July and early August the colour is provided by the blue of Agapanthus and Echinops ritro (Globe Thistle), the pinks of Phlox paniculata, Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife) and some early Japanese Anemones (Anemone x hybrida), the reds and yellows of Hemerocallis (Day Lily), the acid greens of Euphorbia and the purple-brown foliage of Ageratina alternifolia ‘Chocolate’ (Snakeroot).
Echinops ritro / A beautiful Phlox paniculata
Day Lilies, Hemerocallis
Snakeroot, Ageratina alternifolia ‘Chocolate’ / Japanese Anemone, Anemone x hybrida
Two other plants caught our eye, the mauve flower spikes of Veronicastrum virginicum and the striking umbels of white flowers above the fern-like foliage of Selinum wallichianum. The former is from North America and is a tall, herbaceous perennial up to 2m high with whorls of 3-7, horizontal, toothed leaves and long spikes of veronica-like flowers in white, pale pink or bluish-purple. The latter is in complete contrast with very finely cut leaves and large, triangular-shaped umbels arranged in a striking tiered effect and made up of small, star-shaped white flowers.
Veronicastrum virginicum / Selinum wallichianum
The walls of the garden by this time of year are covered in lots of leaf growth especially from the ornamental vine, Vitis coignetiae with its large, heart-shaped leaves with splashes of colour from several different varieties of Clematis.
The Lower Walled Garden just through the archway is also full of interest, growth and colour. The bed to the north is dominated by the hot colours of red, orange and yellow with the opposite bed using the cooler colours of blue, white and pink. Everywhere there is fruit swelling and the colourful vegetables are growing really well even if the Sweet Pea wigwams have obviously suffered from the lack of rain. I’m not usually one for the really hot colours but they certainly give great impact in this garden with a wonderful Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cappuccino’ looking more like a Helenium and the really striking orange of Tithonia robustifolia ‘Torch’ (Mexican Sunflower) stealing the show for me.
Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cappuccino’ and Cannas / The Mexican Sunflower, Tithonia robustifolia ‘Torch’
Just a short walk away the Woodland and Stream Garden is a complete contrast with bright colours and sunshine giving way to a whole range of greens and shade which on a hot day is very welcome. By this time of year the Gunnera manicata towers above the path and the child in us all demands that we walk beneath it but beware it has very spikey stalks and leaves!
The Gunnera tunnel / and the large-leaved Magnolia
The area down by the stream is a jungle of green and the woodland floor is dominated by grasses rather than the flower colours earlier in the year. This, I think, makes the visitor look up more to the trees which are truly impressive in their own right. Here it is the native Beech (Fagus) and Oak (Quercus) which dominate but in other parts of the garden there are more exotic trees such as the two on the front lawn near the entrance, one a magnificent Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and the other, I think, some form of Cedar (Cedrus). Back in the woodland there is one very large-leaved tree which I have mentioned previously. I thought it might be a Paulonia but it is now in flower showing it to be some form of Magnolia– don’t worry I have been wrong before and will be wrong again, many times! Next time I bump into head gardener, Joseph, I will find out exactly what it is.
A magnificent Beech (Fagus) / Two wonderful specimen trees on the main lawn
The Stream Garden on the edge of the woodland is a sea of green from the Ferns, Hostas and Gunneras but still with splashes of flower colour from the pale-blue Hostas, the pure white of Hydrangea paniculata ‘Kyushu’, the pink spikes of Persicaria, the pink plumes of Astilbe and the orange-yellow Ligularia by the small pool. The pool itself also has a wonderful Bullrush sculpture which at this time of year is beautifully framed by a Gunnera behind and Iris leaves in front.
Green is the colour! / I wish our Hostas were this good!
Ligularia / and the beautiful sculpture in the nearby pool
As you will know if you have visited the garden or are following these blogs there is another area of woodland to the south of the mansion leading up from the Rose Garden to the Asiatic Garden on the hill. By late July the full beauty of the roses is beginning to fade but there are still some rose blooms to be admired, for example, a shrub rose, Rosa ‘Heritage’ which smells as good as it looks. There are also many other points of interest in the surrounding beds such as a lovely, pale-pink Sidalcea and two forms of Echinacea, E. purpurea and E. ‘White Swan’.
Rosa ‘Hertitage’ / Sidalcea and Geranium
Two lovely Echinaceas
In the woodland above the Rose Garden it is again green which dominates as most of the Lilies have now finished flowering. The Giant Lily, Cardiocrinum giganteum, which I raved about in July’s blog is now showing its seed pods which it will continue to do so well into the winter. Teresa thinks that they look like the desert cacti from south west USA and who am I to argue? At the upper part of the woodland and into the Asiatic Garden one group of plants dominate at this time of year, the Hydrangeas. If you are a fan, as I am, you will be in your element as there are so many to admire in all their leaf shapes, sizes and flower colours.
Cardiocrinum giganteum / One of the many white Hydrangeas
and two of the more colourful ones
Once you have managed to tear yourself away from the Hydrangeas there are other delights to catch the eye. One is a small tree of white flowers with beautiful purple and yellow markings within the flowers, a little like those in many Orchids, Catalpa szechuanicum. Others include a perfect example of why Cotinus coggygria is known as the Smoke Bush, a striking red Lily, attractive seed heads of Rogersias and a lovely Acanthus spinosa (Bear’s Breeches). Near to the last two in a small pool there is yet another beautiful leaf sculpture.
Cotinus coggygri, the Smoke Bush / and a splendid red Lily
Rogersia seed heads / Acanthus spinosa (Bear’s Breeches)
The lovely leaf sculpture / and the wildflower meadow
The Wildflower meadow is also near the lower end of the Asiatic Garden and is now a sea of yellow daisies with highlights of blue Cornflowers.
There is one area of the garden which I haven’t yet mentioned in any of my blogs and this is the recently planted up area around the old Gatehouse which marks the original entrance to the garden and mansion. It has been partially restored and the cobbled drive between it and the Cloister Garden excavated and revealed. The path from the Gatehouse back to the new entrance now has planting on both sides with a mixture of shrubs and herbaceous perennials including Buddleja, Rosa rugosa, Cytisus (Broom), Potentilla and Euphorbia. The path continues around the main lawn and past the Yew Tunnel which is always worth an explore particularly on a hot, sunny day.
The newly planted area around the old Gatehouse
The intriguing Yew Tunnel
I hope you have enjoyed your virtual visit to the August garden at Aberglasney and that it might tempt you to make a visit in person. All the details you need are on their website- Aberglasney.org- which is full of useful and interesting information as well as some much more professional photographs than mine!
Finally before I leave you for another month I have to remind you of some garden jobs for August. A full list is given in the blog archives to be found for some reason in July 2019. Also in the archives for August 2020 is my blog from our own garden last year if you would like to revisit it or are coming to the blogs for the first time. As for us, we will be concentrating on the vegetable beds, pots and greenhouse to get as much fresh produce as we can. This means watering, feeding, weeding, watching out for pests and diseases and most importantly harvesting crops when they are at their very best. We are currently enjoying our Charlotte potatoes, broad and French beans and courgettes as well as many forms of salad leaves and are looking forward to the first runner beans and tomatoes. In the ornamental garden we will be concentrating on dead heading to keep the plants flowering for as long as possible and will give the conifer hedges a clip towards the end of the month which will take us neatly into September!
Until then keep well, keep gardening and begin to enjoy a little more freedom if you feel able to.