To visit the Gardens, House & Gallery, please book a ticket online before you arrive. The Stables, Plant Centre & Caffè + Gelato are free to enter. Summer Late openings take place every Wednesday evening (except 30th June, 22nd September)
It is HOT, HOT, HOT. The gardens team are wilting as quickly as the plants and my gentle coaxing and reminders about the how awful it was working in the rain last year are not helping! But we wouldn't be true Brits if we weren't moaning about the weather. All weather and climates come with their own set of problems, but, come on, this is a proper summer!! A summer without waterproofs!! AMAZING!
But the heat has had to change the ways we are working. Ben and I have to make sure that in the midday sun we have tried to find or provide a bit of shade to work in. Lots more cold drinks are being drunk and we are all constantly greasy with sun cream. The formal gardens team have had to have a major turn around in our working hours over the last couple of weeks so that we can get as much water on the garden as possible. We are doing staggered shifts of 6am -3pm and 1pm -9pm so that we can water at either end of the day when it is cooler (although it was still 24 degrees here at 9pm last night and 22 at 6am so it obviously doesn't get much cooler). We just cannot water between about 10 am and 6 pm or the plants just end up getting fried by the sun and go brown and crispy.
But thanks to plenty of watering the Victorian Terrace is still flourishing.
Some plants are loving it. All the mediterranean plants; Lavenders, Stachys, Phlomis, Rosemary, are in full swing and much prefer this weather to the floods of last year. In July last year several of our Lavenders had rotted. The Yuccas are really enjoying it and are taller than ever as they reach for the sun. The bees are practically queueing up to get at the Francoas and the day lillies. And our new Hydrangea quercifolia are loving the heat.
But there are casualties. We are not sure whether these Skimmia have reached permanent wilting point or if with a little TLC we can revive them.
The roses are blooming and then almost immediately seem to need deadheading. It is hard to maintain a green lawn (although on the plus side its a nice break from mowing) And without constant attention the bedding plants bolt so quickly.
In the Landscape garden the Great Cascade is now a mere dribble. The water here is a natural water course from the Quantocks that has been diverted through the valley. It isn't a pumped system. So when we have no rain, we have no cascade.
Ben's team are putting a lot of effort into the constant clearing of pond weed that thrives in the sunshine- it's not often that we fight to put the waders on and get in the pond but it is so lovely and cool in there at the moment that weed clearance has become the top job.
Like the plants we have to adapt. We are lucky in this country that we can grow such a wide variety of plants that can survive all types of climate changes. Last year I was chatting to a gardener from the Cornish County Council. Ironically they had decided a couple of years ago to change form heavy feeding/watering bedding plants and look to the future and put in more drought resistant perennials such as lavender. As we chatted it was pouring down and had been for weeks. The lavenders were rotting and seemed like the most ridiculous idea.... I bet they are glad of that decision today!