The long, sunny, dry spell of May and June is perhaps a sign of things to come in future years. After the driest February in 30 years, and the wettest March in 40 years, and now six weeks of no rain but hot, sunny days, it looks like we are set for some unpredictable years ahead, where our climate will dictate what we can do in our gardens.
Although everything has flowered well and the garden is a blaze of colour, many plants have finished flowering a lot earlier than normal. Our National Collection of Japanese Iris have produced a stunning spectacle of intricate coloured blooms – normally in flower in the early part of July, with the sunny spell their flowering is a good two weeks early this year. They have benefitted by recently being planted in a wetter area than previously, and we intend in the next few years to plant more in the bed by the bridge at the top lake. These we hope will be ones obtained from Japanese nurseries, as opposed to the numerous ones produced by American nurseries, many of which we already have in the bog garden.
One of the most impressive sights now is our Cornus Kousa trees, covered in creamy white or pink flowers. Known commonly as dogwoods they are native of Japan and seemingly get better with age.
They were planted in the 1990s, all as seedlings, and as they have grown and matured they have revealed different characteristics as all seedlings do. The better ones we have named them as they are quite distinct.
Cornus kousa ‘Marwood Twilight’ has unique bluish foliage similar to the sky as it nears twilight. ‘Marwood Dawn’ on the other hand has petals of a unique dusky pink just like dawn breaking in the early morning. ‘Marwood Cream’ has striking creamy white petals. All of them flowering for 4 to 5 weeks and making statuesque bushes.
The Chinese form of Cornus Kousa, makes a much bigger bush and is adorned with white flowers covering the whole tree. A glorious sight planted just below our scree garden. All of these we propagate by grafting them as they will not root from cuttings, and seed raised plants take many years before they flower. Grafted plants typically will flower after 2 to 3 years.
As June comes to an end our large collection of Astilbes planted between the two top lakes erupts into a riot of colourful flowers show casing the wide range of colours, shapes and leaf textures of the 100 to 150 different cultivars contained in the 3 beds. Probably the largest collection of Astilbes in the world they are a wow factor in the garden for the next two months.
Although the ground has been dry lately, we have still been planting up new areas that have been cleared and renovated. Thankfully we are able to use our own supply of water to water the plants through a series of boreholes, but it does mean we have too had to our already full workload. The planting of trees and shrubs continues, as it is essential to think of the future in a garden such as Marwood as trees that have been planted in the 1970s, 1980s and beyond, are reaching their maturity. This means that is becomes necessary to plant for continuity, as well as for any new exciting plants which become available to enhance the garden in future years.