Wow what a busy month!!! This September has been an unusually busy month. Traditionally September would be a quieter time in the garden, when we see fewer visitors, as summer holidays end and the new school year begins. This year has been quite different. Children may have gone back to school, but much to our delight, garden visitors have continued to come to explore Marwood. Which has allowed us to show off the late summer highlights in the garden.

Garden Highlights

The Astilbes may have finished flowering but there is no shortage of colour. Magnificent fiery orange flowering red hot poker (Kniphofia rooperi) tower over the herbaceous beds.

Kniphofia rooperiKniphofia rooperi.

Jewel like red, and pink Hesperantha (Schizostylis) flowers can be seen dotted throughout the garden but look particularly attractive in large drifts in the bog garden. Black leaved Actaea simplex delights, with its sweetly scented white fox tail flowers.

Actaea simplexActea simplex

Yellow flowering Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Goldquelle’ and Rudbeckia fulgida var.sullivantii 'Goldsturm' light up the herbaceous borders.

Herbaceous bedsHerbaceous borders

Large banks of White flowering Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert' can be seen at the base of the walled garden walls and in the scree bed area. The entrance path looks particularly appealing with red Salvia confertiflora interplanted with dark blue Aconitum. Trees such as Cercidiphyllum (Katsura Tree) has already turned a beautiful butter yellow giving of their characteristic burn sugar scent. The rarely seen Sorrell tree Oxydendrum arboreum and Prunus sargentii have begun to turn a brilliant shade of red.

Garden Achievements

In the garden we have begun the annual Astilbe bed renovation. Once a year all the plants in one of the three Astilbe beds gets lifted. The beds are weeded, dug over and fed in preparation for planting with fresh Astilbe plants. This is a big task but also gives the team the opportunity to split and propagate next year’s astilbe stock.

It is also a busy time in the plant nursery. Gardeners rove the garden filling up large bags full of cutting material, filling our glasshouse mist benches with young plants.

Big news this month

We have finished planting up a new area of the bog garden, continuing the river of Candelabra primula which runs through the heart of the bog garden as well preparation towards a new planting project between top and middle lake known as the dam area which I will talk more about in October. All I will say is it involves conifers.

We have also welcomed a new National Collection to the garden, ‘Marwood Heritage Collection. This will be our fourth National collection and it brings together and celebrates all of those plants that were uniquely selected or raised at Marwood. Plants such as Astilbe ‘Marwood Sonata’ and Astilbe ‘Cream of Marwood’ are included in this collection.

Tips for your Garden

  • Now is a particularly good time to take cuttings. Shrubs such as Camellias, Hydrangeas and Salvias respond particularly well cuttings are taken now.
  • With the evenings drawing in and you still have seed trays of cuttings coming on in your glasshouse. Do not repot them now, leave them in their seed trays and place in a cold frame until spring. Repotting cuttings too late in the season may result in failure.
  • Reduce frequency of mowing lawns, lawns tend to slow in growth as day length reduces.
  • Place your bulb order for next year
  • Lift and divide you Astilbes
  • Now is the time to cut your wildflower meadow if you have one. Spread yellow rattle seed once cut.

Plant of the month: Crocosmia

One plant group that has taken real focus this month is Crocosmia. Commonly known as montbretia it is an exceptionally low maintenance plant, thriving in a wide range of conditions. Crocosmia flower from July till September in a range of colours, red, yellow, apricot, and orange and every shade in between. We sell five or six Crocosmia ‘Cultivars’ most years, however this is set to change. The team have become garden detectives searching across the garden to, identify, labeling, and propagate as many Crocosmias as they can locate.

Crocosmia Pauls Best YellowCrocosmia 'Paul's Best Yellow'

Where Next

Traditionally Marwood has closed its gates on the last day of September to the gardening public, much to the disappointment to many. This year we have decided to extend the garden opening throughout October.

The Gardens, Walled Garden Nursery will be open Wednesdays through to Sundays but for a shorter time from 11am till 3.30pm. The Garden Tea Room will now also be offering just light refreshments during October, teas and coffees, toasted tea cakes, crumpets and cake, of course.

So, you will now be able to view the amazing autumn colour Marwood has to offer. Of course, for anyone who can’t make it, our online shop is up and running, stay tuned to Twitter and Facebook for offers and daily shots of our beautiful garden.

It has been several months since I have sat down and written the Head Gardener’s Blog. That is not to say when lockdown happened Marwood completely stopped, far from it.

Regrettably like other businesses many of our staff were furloughed. At the time of lockdown all the hard work had been done and our plant centre was full of a fantastic range of plants ready for sale and the garden was looking immaculate. After a week of trading the door was duly shut again (mid March). Despite this’ always keen to focus on the positive’ the Marwood Team viewed lockdown as an opportunity. It was the ideal time for us to set up the Online Shop. Boxes were sourced, couriers were chosen, and the Online Shop was developed. Much needed income started to flow into the business.

Take a tour of Marwood Hill Gardens in April 2020

If you go down in the woods today.......

Spring has finally reached the garden. Marwood is now dotted with pink, reds and whites. The early flowering Magnolia, Camellia and Rhododendron are blooming across the garden. The richly perfumed pale pink Magnolia sprengeri. The dark pink cabbage sized flowers of Magnolia campbellii subsp. Mollicomata are looking amazing, contrasting well with the nearby magnolia purple-pink flowered Magnolia ‘Charles Raffill'. Salix gracilistyla 'Mount Aso' is looking resplendent, with its bright red winter shoots above its pink and silver fluffy male catkins (available for sale). Look out for early spring flowering herbaceous perennials such as strikingly blue daisy like Anemone blanda and dark blue flowering Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’.

After four successive storms Atiyah, Brendan, Ciara and Dennis, three large trees have failed in the garden. One large Eucalyptus has fallen into the upper lake, with two other trees coming down in the bog garden and folly area. Many branches and detritus litter the garden. The tree surgeons made clever use of a small boat and a winch to remove the eucalyptus from the top lake and the garden team have been busy clearing fallen branches and logs away. With so many fallen trees, much space has been created for new planting opportunities.

February is here, bringing with it the prospect of lighter evenings, much to the relief of the garden team. We are however not out of the woods yet; the continuing battle with the wet weather which has fully saturated the garden and the threat of frost is still a very real possibility.

Early flowering Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ was the first bulb to emerge throughout the garden followed quickly by snowdrops, Hellebores and most recently Leucojum vernum (Spring snowflake). Early flowering Camellias, Rhododendron nobleanum and R. ‘Christmas Cheer’ have provided splashes of purple, pink, white and red.

My Name is Matthew Brewer, I have recently taken on the role of head gardener at Marwood Hill Gardens.

In all honesty, before last June, I had never heard of this garden but for a chance visit to Marwood whilst holidaying with my family. Upon entering the garden we naturally headed for the tearoom. Halfway through a ginger scone, an impromptu interview with the Garden Manager and my fate was sealed. Before joining Marwood I was working as a woodland Horticulturalist at RHS garden Harlow Carr in Yorkshire, together with a hardy band of volunteers clearing and developing its woodland.