Weathering the weather- did your garden survive the recent heat waves, heavy rain, then following dry spell? Marwood is now beginning to recover some of its former self. Lawns are beginning to green up again. New growth is beginning to appear on stressed trees and shrubs. The late flowering herbaceous perennials we would normally expect to see this time of year such as the Phlox, Aster, Aconitum are much reduced and compact versions of themselves. In contrast some plants such as the Lythrum virgatum , Japanese Anemone, Grasses have seemed to enjoy this warmer weather and are putting on a great show of colour.
The trees have been tricked into an early autumnal leaf drop and are showing autumn colour in response to the dry conditions. Can it really be time to dust of the leaf blowers already?
One group of plants that garden visitors are often looking out for are bee or pollinator friendly plants – it is in August when plants such as Eupatorium purpureum, Lychnis coronaria and Pileostegia viburnoides can be seen covered by clouds of bees and heard constant buzzing. Many of these plants are available to buy in our plant sales nursery.
Aside from flowers there are also many ornamental red and orange berries and hips. Looking especially good are hips of Rosa virginiana and the fruit of Cornus kousa (Flowering Dogwood). These are located just above the triangular seat on northern facing side of garden.
Hydrangeas – The star of the show
The real star of the show this month are the Hydrangeas. As far as Hydrangeas are concerned Marwood is a garden of two halves. The north facing slope of the valley. Is planted with many impressive drifts of hydrangea has strongly acidic soil. Any Hydrangea macrophylla (the big leaf hydrangea) planted on this slope will have flower in blue colours with varying shades of pale blue to indigo. If these same hydrangeas were planted on the south side of the garden in neutral soil the same plants would appear pink or red in colour. It is for exactly this reason that in Devon hydrangeas are known as ‘changeables’. They have the ability to change flower colour depending on the mineral content and pH of the soil. The more acidic the soil, the easier it is for the plant to uptake aluminium ions, the more aluminium ions in the flower the bluer it will appear. Shop brought blue hydrangea might revert to pink over time if planted in unsuitable soil. However, adding Aluminium sulphate or hydrangea colourant can help to keep the flowers blue. One of the best blue Hydrangeas available is Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Generale Vicomtesse de Vibraye’ and Hydrangea ‘Enziandom’ (Gentian Dome) this is extensively planted through the garden and sold in the garden shop. It is often best to buy a Hydrangea macrophylla for is flower shape as opposed to its colour as this will stay the same.
Did you see us at RHS Rosemoor flower show? The whole team worked together to set this up. It was an attractive display of late flowering Astilbes, which drew much attention to our plant stand and it was pleasing to see many visitors who visited the show and talked to Marwood volunteers later visited Marwood Hill Gardens.
Our volunteer team continue to grow and where we have said goodbye to one, three more have joined the team, including experienced wood workers Kieran and Phil, new admission volunteer Trudi and Rebecca. Finally, a big thanks to Kim, Ryan and Simon who have all helped with the clear of storm damaged logs both from within the garden but in the behind-the-scenes shelterbelt nursery.