Gardener's Diary Post

August 2021

More extremes of weather.

Yet another month where it seems that extremes of weather happen within a few hours of one another. We have a sequence of drab muggy days, then bright hot clear skies followed by downpours and flooding from relentless rain.

Trees throughout the garden and woodland (especially the Italian alder in the Parkland) are showing signs of stress from the lack of water and have shed their leaves in the prolonged hot spell. It is like early autumn littering the lawn. 

The ground is dried out, the grass browns in patches. There is much watering of containers required – all new growth is a bit limp and exhausted.

There is an inevitable consequence to water supply levels also – the aqueduct from the Top pond stops running temporarily, the Lower pond in the Parkland is suffering from a combination of lack of supply and continuing leaks.  All of the water courses are given attention, from the Virgil font through all the burns, ponds and pools, all are raked out and their edges cleared, the flow kept going as best as possible.

In the lochan the larger job of clearing all the weed from the water surface continues – presumably much to the bemusement of the trout which regularly rises nearby to catch flittering iridescent dragonflies.

The other main invader of the summer months – willow herb – demands further intervention to keep it in check. Large areas on the hillside are decapitated to stop them from flowering. More patches are pulled out where it threatens to invade or overwhelm other sections of the garden. Kept under control and in order it fulfills its intended function and has a place here too.

Throughout the garden there is more deadheading as roses and others need propping up from top heavy flowering. Things seem to go over more quiclky than usual, but there is enough of a sequence to keep colour going in the formal beds in particular.

The Little wood by the entrance is weeded out of nettles – which also keep popping up everywhere. They tend to creep in from the field edges, so the entire perimeter of the garden becomes a first line of defence.

The small islet in the lower pond –  Ile de Peupliers – is given a tidy so that the tree plaque remains visible above the spiky leaves of flag iris.

Clipping of the remaining hedges is completed – Huff Lane and various bits and pieces in the woodland. The yews in the Roman garden and Julie’s garden are cut back – and here too a lot of the planting which has shot up or gone over is evened out. In the Temple pool the central willow which acts as a backdrop to the marble paper boat is kept in shape and the pool itself cleaned out again – its edges redefined from any encroaching new growth.

The Cloud pool in the Hortus gets a regular clean out and the ivy cladding the walls is encouraged to fill in any gaps. The fruit trees which so struggle for light here are given a quick summer pruning – though there will be little of note to harvest this year.

All of this clearing away means there is plenty of waste to compost and the heaps are turned over again, and ready compost spread as mulch at the bottom of woodland hedges to keep in moisture. 

When the rain comes it is in a flash and within a couple of hours the top surface of the track is washed out again and heavily rutted – emergency filling and repairs get it back to safe and level passage. The field drains further down do their work and redirect the most of the vast volume of water away.  

Conservation works continue – the little arch wooden bridge by the Sweet Harmony grove on the moorland is repaired and back in place, the limestone base section of the entrance gate pillars is resurfaced – but the most significant renovation is the Goose Hut – which is given a new lease of iife as the heather thatching on the roof is entirely renewed and a couple of the rotten wooden pillars replaced. It is clear to all to see that the completed building would make a fine new home for a small family of geese to be wecomed back into to garden…