Head Gardener's Notes
Our Gardens in July: Blooms and Maintenance
1st of Jul, 2022
We're now in the full swing of summer and the Gardens are looking spectacular for it! We have had plenty of rain in the run up to this summer, so the grass is still lush and green and the flowers heady and full of scent.
Already in Bloom:
- Jubilee Walk (display comes in waves)
- George Carter Walk (now at its best)
- Flag Garden (now at its best)
- Water Lilies – Diana’s Bath
- Lavender (all varieties)
- Surrey Rose - Italian Garden beds
- Blush Excelsior (rose) – Italian Garden wall against Church Terrace
- Queen Elizabeth (rose) – Italian Garden wall against Church Terrace
- American Honeysuckle – end of Church Terrace
- Lilies – Blue and Yellow Border
- Floribundas (rose) – Long Border
- Trellis roses – Nut Garden
To Bloom This Month:
- Salvia – Blue and Yellow Border
- Agapanthus – Blue and Yellow Border
- Thistle – Blue and Yellow Border
- Clematis – Blue and Yellow Border
- Veronicastrum – Grey and White Garden
Expected in Late July:
- Salvia – Blue and Yellow Border (might be a little late this year)
- Asters (across the Gardens)
- Herbaceous plants (across the Gardens)
- Jubilee Walk (continued display)
Work This Month
July is a month filled with small scale jobs as the flowers begin to look after themselves thanks to the warmer weather. The winter months are usually put aside for larger, sweeping jobs such as changing planting structures, installing new systems such as fountains, or removing trees, and the summer is focused on maintaining the health and prosperity of the garden through several smaller, but equally as important jobs such as dead heading, edging and general pruning.
This month we're topping up the ponds with water, most especially the pond which features a statue of Hercules in the Italian Garden as this is the only pond on site that does not have a direct feed from the lake at Lancup Well in the parkland. All the other ponds in the Gardens, and the Horsepond near the visitor entrance, benefit from an historic plumbing system which sees fresh water consistently topping them up from the parkland.
Fun Fact: Did you know that the statue of Hercules was not originally intended for Penshurst Place? Hercules’ first home was in fact Leicester House in London, which was built by the Sidney family in the 17th Century but demolished just 100 years later. The only reminder that this grand house did once exist is the name of the area of London that now sits in its place – Leicester Square.
Our focus for early July will be on pruning the Rambling Roses. If you’re doing this at home, remember to only prune the varieties that flower once, if your ramblers flower twice, it’s best to wait until the Autumn to give them a prune.
Edging the many pathways and grass verges throughout the Gardens takes a great deal of time, and it is imperative for maintaining the look and feel of a formal garden. As the summer continues and the grass grows more quickly, we’re now having to edge everywhere in the Gardens every second Monday.
As the flowers bloom so does the need for dead heading, especially on the roses. In total we have about 3,500 roses throughout the formal Gardens so it’s not a quick job! Where we dead head and prune on the rose is really important as it affects where the flowers will bloom in the next year. For instance with the ramblers, the flowers tend to only grow on the end of the new growth so if we don’t remove these and prune the branches back thoroughly, then next year we would run the risk of the flowers blooming much too high for any of our visitors to see and enjoy!
In the Nut Garden and Orchard, you may notice a few crab apples and standard apples have dropped. This Is known as the June Drop and it’s a natural process whereby the tree thins itself out. We’ll now be raking up and collecting the fallen apples to use in our compost.
A rather exciting development this month is that we have now started to use our new irrigation system, which is the first time in the seven centuries of our Garden’s life that an irrigation system has been in place. As you can imagine, our Gardeners (and their backs) are excited to see the impact this new system has.
Finally, we’ll soon be clearing much of the weed out of the ponds across the Gardens. The warmer weather has seen them perhaps over-thrive recently, and for the health of the water and the other creatures that live in our ponds, we need to thin it out a little. So if during your visit you see a pile (or several) of weeds drying on the sides of the ponds, this is to allow the water the drain back into the pond and dry the weed out so that we can compost it.