Gardener's Diary Post

August 2022

Effects of drought…

Though perhaps not so immediately evident or expected here, we have suffered as many issues as elsewhere from the prolonged period of drought. There is no recourse to top up once water levels drop as we are fully reliant on the natural spring source. Feeds to the main ponds and pools are sporadic – and when they stop temporarily then the levels just drain away.  There is more disruption also from cattle in the fields interfering with exposed pipes – run overground for ease of maintenance this is now becoming problematic.

When the long sequence of dry days finally breaks showers are welcome but again enough only for a temporary reprieve – the ground is still hard and powdery dry. As a consequence things rush to seed, trees drop their leaves in stress, the lawn areas are patchy brown and it certainly looks and feels like early autumn.

In the English Parkland the lower pond has suffered and mostly dried out. It is kept looking as tidy as possible with the edges of the stream from the wooden aqueduct here cleared of overhanging grasses and meadowsweet.

In the lochan the levels have generally maintained but the big issue here this season has been the potamogeton weed. Its lily-like leaves float on the water surface and have very quickly become dominant. There is nothing else for it but the slow and prolonged process of removing this by hand.

In the Temple pond the semi-formal willows which are setting for the marble paper boat and aircraft carrier pieces are clipped. Blanket weed is regularly raked out to keep the surface clear here and the water lilies are doing well. The little Durer Great Piece of Turf islet is kept in check from being overwhelmed by flag iris and meadowsweet.

In spite of the odd refreshing shower it is not enough for containers, the Kailyard and Allotment and so a regular round of watering is required from our limited resources.

There are new flushes of colour, but mainly things are either drying out or shooting to seed. The area around Zur Seigfried Linie washing line is given a good clear out – here the sweet cicely has turned to wilted brown stems, the foliage dried out and it looks unsightly all flopped over so is removed and new filler plants put in – some spare ferns and hostas from containers are given a chance to establish here.

The large yew hedge in the Kailyard gets a good trim and there is a full round of other yew trimmings of Julie’s garden, the Roman garden and the Front garden. Huff Lane is trimmed and the Hortus tidied again, the roses here are just about finished and deadheaded.  The Cloud pool is also cleaned out.

There is further planting out of perennials grown from seed to fill gaps in the front garden borders and spaces in Julie’s Garden. Acanthus is tucked into dark corners at the front hedge and along the drystone wall. If it survives here it will give decorative form and structure and its foliate forms echo the Corinthian capitals placed nearby. Heath pearlwort (also confusingly known as Irish moss) is planted along the edge of the platform base area by the golden head of Apollon Terroriste. Again, the idea is that these will gradually spread and create a soft evergreen carpet with dainty little pinpricks of white flowers in summer.

The compost heaps are turned over and the contents of the final bin used as mulch for hedging between the Woodland garden and the English Parkland to retain as much moisture as possible in a dry shady area. There is also the regular task of removing nettles from the path edges and more formal areas throughout.

New moth and insect observations are added to our bioblitz database. A further 34 new moth species are recorded along with seasonal butterflies like Small Copper, Common Blue, and Meadow Brown. This process will hopefully be repeated in a couple of months time and then again in the early part of next year to create an ongoing and more comprehensive picture of the ecology of the garden.

A clump of pale brittle stem mushrooms emerges at the end of Huff Lane, then just as quickly disappears. Late summer into autumn, the days and seasons merge.