It is hard to believe that there are only a few weeks until the garden shuts for the season. It has been a fantastic year and the gardening team; Stella, Georgina and Kevin have been encouraged by plenty of compliments from visitors on the beauty of the gardens.
Houghton Lodge Gardens has developed significantly over the past few years with thanks to the team who find enormous pleasure in chatting with visitors who are keen to know more about the gardens, and what the team have been doing – including the top tips and secrets to nurturing and bringing on plants and flowers, of course, the team never spill the beans!
One of the aims for this year was to create more late summer / autumn colour for the end of the season, which has been successfully achieved with plenty of Dahlias on show throughout the garden. The two main colours that visitors will see on the Long Border are the deep red of Thomas Eddison and the marmalade orange of Mrs Eileen.
The raised beds in the Walled Garden have been a great success this year having been planted with a selection of vegetables and salad crops all raised from seed by Georgina.
The centrally placed sunflowers have equally been a triumph, having flowered continually all summer long. Several visitors have been keen to know the variety for their own gardens; they are Sunflower Harlequin F1 hybrid, and were also sown from seed.
A new addition for the gardens this year has been a small cutting flowerbed at the request of Sophie, including a selection of Dahlias, Gladioli, Zinnias, and Cosmos, all of which are still flowering and providing beautiful blooms for the tearooms, house and events.
For 2018, the team hope to move the cutting garden to one of the wild flower beds to create more variety and vibrant colour.
August has seen the commencement of the summer pruning of the apple espalier trees on the Apple walk, the tying in of the new shoots of the Rose American Pillar on the Rose arch and the removal of older stems. The general maintenance has been to keep the gardens looking their best for our visitors and wedding guests.
Looking ahead to 2018 season
As the gardens start to wind down for the end of the visitor season, plans are being made for next year and how the gardens, can once again bloom to the next level. These plans include what bulbs are to be planted, what replacement plants are required for the Wedding Border, what plants require division or re-placement and which need removing from the Long Border. Another job for the team will be to re-wire and install posts for the Apple walk.
Also for 2018 the ‘Well Borders’ will be renovated to give them more structure and balance, and a new a ‘Hosta Border’ will be created along the garden wall in front of the fruit cages, to continue the development of the ‘Wedding Border’, add some climbing ‘species’ roses to the magnificent trees in the outer garden, and to start the first phase of planting the woodland walk with English bluebells.
The assumption is often made to gardeners that ‘winter is a quiet time’ Invariably the response from the Houghton Lodge Gardening team is ‘far from it’; the gardening season continues unabated throughout the year. The seasons are all equally important and each brings its own priorities; so lots to be done over the Autumn and Winter!