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News, advice and ideas from The Garden House, Devon. August 2017
Summer Garden - Achillea 'Terracotta' with self seeded/selected Papaver rhoeas & Anthemis tinctoria

It's all hotting up in the borders

It's that time of year when the long borders show their full summer colours and the 'oohs' and 'aaahs' from visitors who catch their first glimpse of the Walled Garden can be heard echoing around the terraces! 
The colour combinations of near black dahlias, oranges of the Turks' Cap Lillies and sunny blocks of heleniums, picked up with bright yellows, sky blues and hot pinks are simply razzle-dazzling.

This being an email newsletter there is no way to share scent - but oh boy, there are places in the garden that simply stop you nose first. If you're visiting soon, sniff out the phlox in the long borders and the Summer Garden.

In this edition of Gardenview, Nick will be chatting about why gaps are good and how he is making more of them. He'll also share thoughts on Achillea and why our Astilbes bring him happiness and frustration... and we'll bring you news of gardener changes, update you on courses and share great photos of the garden.
Where did that year go? Each year at The Garden House we welcome two horticultural students, who spend twelve months as vital members of the garden team, whilst they advance their gardening careers . You may well have met these two amongst the plants. Brad Cooper (left) and Will Stanger have finished the year with us and are off soon to their next gardening adventure.

Brad's off to Ashridge Estate in Herfordshire. It's a National Trust property with a very different type of garden; Brad will have an extra 180 acres to get to grips with. He has been heard to say more than once that as he's spent a year here he has already worked at the best garden he will ever work in. Nice sounds Brad.

Will is due to jet off literally in another direction.Upside down. His passion lies in Rhododendrons and although he has an extraordinary amount of knowledge already he is keen to learn even more about them. He has succeeded in gaining horticultural grants and support that will enable him to travel to New Zealand and spend time amongst the flora of that remarkable country. Look out New Zealand...

Bye guys, thank you and safe travels!
Have you been to Trebah Gardens, down near Falmouth in Cornwall? It's one of our partner gardens, so if you are a member of Friends of The Garden House you can visit for free. We called in there this week to look at the hydrangeas, as well as to spend time learning about the plans and experiences of this busy tourist destination. Trebah attracts over 100,000 visitors more than The Garden House each year, so it has similar and also different challenges.  It was a pleasure to hear Darren Dickey, the head gardener, talk about how he loves The Garden House and sees it as a very special place to visit. We think Trebah is pretty special too; it's a remarkable garden, full of towering tropical plants and mature trees. If you haven't been it's well worth a visit. 
Many gardens in the South West grow agapanthus, or African Lillies. It's been a good year for them this year and the display of  'Navy Blue' in the Summer Garden is a real talking point. If you haven't seen them showing off next to the deep red Persicaria you are in for (another) treat.

Our Facebook page is updated almost every day with colourful shots like these, as well as garden news and information, please follow us if you'd like to stay up to date.

We're making gaps and I'm enjoying the Achillea 

This month we'd normally be deadheading the Campanula lactiflora; the tall plant plant that makes the Tennis Court and bench look so striking in July. It's alright there, but we're getting ruthless with it in more places where it's self seeded, especially amongst the borders in the Lower Terrace. I'm determined not to have any of it left in the Long Walk. It shouldn't be in there and we've just got quietly used to it but I want spaces for better planting. It comes in white, blue and a quite interesting pink, (photo below) which I think I'll propagate from.


As the students change over, the season turns and we move on to planting out. If the weather's good we'll get a bit done before Will and Brad go. Usually the new students get to know the garden through late summer planting out - then they get to mow and clear the Wildflower Meadow! 
 

Another plant we've been digging out  - Yarrow

Achilleas have been looking good in the Summer garden. Sometimes we get common yarrow establishing instead of the coloured varieties. Yarrow's another one that can sneak up on you if you let it. We've had a bit of a purge on it, digging our great mats of fibrous roots like brillo pads, but the gaps that have been left aren't a problem as the garden is so abundant that they're not noticeable. 

The coloured Achillea are interesting and I enjoy using them, especially amongst grasses where the different forms look effective together. The grasses tend to be slender and the Achillea are always flat headed, so they work well. We have a variety that we grow here that's very similar to a known variety called Forncett Fletton. Ours is better because it is a proper pink and it doesn't fade. If I was naming it I'd call it 'Good Pink' but it's not a plant that we've consistently propagated and are sure enough of to name.  
Various Achillea amongst the Summer Garden borders

Back to the gaps we're making. We have a good supply of plants in the polytunnels to fill in with. The tunnels ebb and flow as we bulk up and plant out. I buy some plants in but the majority are from the garden. At the moment we have a good selection of Astilbes, which take a few years to bulk up. It's frustrating as the plants in the garden aren't always catalogued, so the more we put out, the more we have that isn't labelled and the more we get asked what they are... and so on it goes. Believe me, we work hard to identify everything but we'll not guess a name and label something unless we are absolutely sure of it!

With the Astilbes we're selecting ones with decent red foliage colour as well now, so they are becoming more refined and interesting. The variety shown below is definitely Astilbe chinensis var. taquetii  ‘Purpurlanze’. 


Finally for this month, the Phillyrea in the long borders needs cutting again. This is the long, narrow, curving hedge that divides the beds in the borders by the thatched barn. It's a member of the olive family and in the wild it would be pruned by goats. Our goat equivalent is David with a hedge trimmer, who prunes it hard to keep it in check. It's relatively hardy but you won't find it north of Birmingham. I'm asked sometimes if it's a clever alternative to box, but it's not. It needs more light than box and we're lucky because our heavy planting slows it down a bit and makes it manageable. It takes time to keep it looking so good and it would rather be a lot taller and broader. It makes the borders look magic though, so it'll stay a while.

As always I begin this by thinking I've not got much to say and then end up going on. Oh lastly, thank you to everyone who has spent time with me during my classes. I've enjoyed them and will be doing more next season.

See you in the garden soon.

Nick.

Calendars for 2018 arrive in September, so if you fancy having the garden with you all year, pick yours up next time you visit, or order one online. (It's OK, we won't mention ...Christmas!)
We have a few spaces on our last art class for the year. 
The art class 'Late Summer Splash' on August 24th is fully booked. We have just one art class left on October 3rd;  'Exploring Colour Harmonies', so please book soon if you fancy a dabble...

The Wind in the Willows was a blast

Thank you to everyone who came to see The Wind in the Willows. It was a super evening, over two hundred people came, the sun shone and a jolly good time was had by all. The cows in the field behind enjoyed it too. If you were there, you'll know...

Theatre in the garden; looks like it could catch on! 
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