Head Gardener's Notes
Our Gardens in June: Blooms and Maintenance
1st of Jun, 2023
Already in Bloom
Rosa ‘Tall Story’: Baron’s Hall beds
Lilac Syringa x Josiflexa ‘Bellicent’: Long Border
Irises and various herbaceous plants: Jubilee Walk
Rosa ‘MacMillan Nurse’: Rose Garden
Various herbaceous plants: Blue & Yellow Border and Jubilee Walk
Roses: Tortoise Terrace
Clematis: Nut Garden
To Bloom Soon
Peony Border: starting to bloom at 1st June, but full display won’t be for a few days yet!
Rambling and climbing roses: can be found throughout the gardens, but especially on archways and trellis
Waterlilies: Diana’s Bath
Lavender: throughout the gardens
Continuing herbaceous displays: Jubilee Walk and the Blue & Yellow Border
Expected Late June/Early July
Rambling roses: Nut Garden
Rosa ‘Kent’: Flag Garden
Rosa ‘The Times’: Flag Garden
All Systems Go!
The warmer weather has definitely arrived and with all the rain at the end of May, everything has started growing, sprouting and blooming with extra vigour! The gardens are now filled with colour and life as we seem to have moved seamlessly into summer. Of course, this means the grass and weeds are flourishing too and so the gardening team’s main focus will now be on maintenance tasks such as mowing, edging and weeding.
As mentioned in previous months, the extremes of this winter have led to us losing approximately 1,400 plants across the gardens (including 700 roses), which is why you will see a number of gaps in the borders and beds, particularly on the George Carter Walk and Jubilee Walk. Decisions have now been made regarding plant choices to help build resilience into our planting schemes, and replanting has started. However some of the plant stock we require is currently unavailable, meaning that replanting will be ongoing for the rest of this year.
The major overhaul of the Italian Garden is progressing, with all the beds now being opened and the roses removed. We are currently in the process of lifting the 12,500 ‘Jewel of Spring’ tulip bulbs and sorting and grading them - bulbs with a circumference of 10cm are most likely to flower next year. These will be replanted in the smaller, newly opened beds later in the year. It has been at least 30 years since the beds in this garden have been empty so this is a good opportunity to give the soil some TLC. We’ll be managing the weeds and clearing any ground elder and mare’s tail, and then digging and mulching before replanting the tulips, followed by 400 new Rosa ‘Surrey’ plants which will planted in the winter as bare root plants. Another great advantage of leaving the beds empty for a season is the improved and increased airflow around the box hedging which will help in the fight against box blight.
Hedges and Long Grass
Areas that previously showcased spring bulbs have been left to naturalise over the past few weeks to allow the bulbs to transfer and store energy ready for next year. Now that the bulbs have fully died back we will be cutting these areas of long grass throughout the gardens. This will be done in two stages to maintain the green and avoid having patches of brown grass – first the areas will be strimmed, and then after a short while they will be mown. The two main daffodil areas – Lime Walk and The Orchard – will be left until later this month before being cut, to extend the habitat range. All box hedges and berberis hedges will be cut this month.
The standard roses ‘MacMillan Nurse’ are in beautiful full bloom at the time of writing, however a number haven’t survived the vagaries of the winter weather and we will be replacing eight of them once new stock becomes available from our suppliers. The intricate task of hand weeding amongst the Stachys ‘Silver Carpet’ is a job for this month, as well as cutting the Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea ‘Nana’ hedging surrounding the rose beds.
New dahlias will be planted in all beds, except the blue, of the Jubilee Walk, along with lots of rudbeckia, grown on site from seed, in the red, orange and yellow beds. Further replanting will take place once stock arrives from outside suppliers. It is interesting to note that the blue beds are fuller than others and currently flourishing – many of the plants in these two beds are adapted to hotter climates and have glaucous, or grey/silver leaves, and were therefore not so adversely affected by the extremely high temperatures and lack of water last summer.
At the time of writing our 100 metre Peony Border is starting to bloom and will take pride of place in the gardens for the early part of this month. Unfortunately some of the plants have succumbed to the fungal disease ‘peony wilt’, which is a form of botrytis, but we’re hopeful that it won’t have too much impact on the stunning display of our four species of peony: Lady Alexander Duff, Monsieur Jules Elie, Albert Crousse, and Sarah Bernhardt.
Grey & White Garden
This garden is now reopen with temporary planting in place until permanent replacement plants are delivered.
The Demi-Lune pond ‘beasts’ will be pruned this month, with the Bear going on a diet - looking at old photographs we noticed that he’s got quite a middle-aged spread going on and he’ll therefore be looking noticeably more trim soon! The ‘beasts’ represent family heraldic symbols of those who have owned and resided at Penshurst Place, past and present. The Bear with the Ragged Staff represents the Dudley family, and the Porcupine is the Sidney family crest.