Garden Blog | August
Hedge clipping is one of those tasks that may or may not be a joy to undertake, depending of course on your attitude to these things, but is without doubt necessary to keep the structure of a formal garden in line. You may have read in last month’s garden blog that we clipped the box hedges that surround our Parterre beds in June, and hornbeam hedges that bound the Parterre in July; so we now turn our attention to yew. Growing at a sedate rate, one clip in late summer will suffice to keep yew tidy, whereas our box and hornbeam may require a second clip later in the season. As a result, yew is a deservedly popular choice when it comes to forming topiary, as with our topiary teapots that stand tall in beds of lavender on the Parterre.
The topiary teapots are great fun to clip, and are always popular with visitors, adding a little bit of whimsy to the gardens.
Another task that requires attention at this time of year is the pruning of certain types of fruit trees. Our espalier apples are first to see some secateur action. To encourage flower bud formation, all new growth is cut back to eight inches or so in length, except leaders that will be tied horizontally against the railings in winter. Also, by summer pruning the espalier apples, extra light reaches the maturing fruit aiding the ripening process. Stone fruits, such as plums, damsons, and greengages, are also pruned just now. Again, summer pruning allows sunlight to the maturing fruit, but is also beneficial in the control of a fungal disease of stone fruit known as silver leaf. With silver leaf fungal spores most prevalent in autumn and winter, pruning at that time of year would give a greater chance of infection, especially as the tree sap in being drawn back down at that time of year, potentially taking fungal spores with it. Late summer pruning negates the risk of silver leaf infection. Other fruits, such as raspberries and blackberries, are already ripe for picking, and our abundant crops are passed on to chef for turning into a multitude of tasty treats.
Back at the flower gardens, and late summer brings a host of new favourites into bloom. Echinops, with bee festooned thistly globe flowers: bold blue agapanthus; starry lilies, fiery crocosmia; and wiry stemmed verbena; are just a few of the many new delights to enjoy right now.