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August 2018

Late summer flowers

19 August 2018

Autumn flowers in the Long Border at Kew

It’s almost the end of August already! Wow, this year is passing by so very fast. Although many gardeners might think that summer abundance is coming to an end and the only option is for their garden to look ‘green’ at this time of year, with the warmer climate we have these days, the summer in recent years has extended into the early part of Autumn and into October. So, in fact, canny gardeners can really extend their year of colour with late flowering perennials.

Those who are familiar with the Genus brand and motifs might not be surprised to know that the garden is designed around a hot orange/red/yellow scheme. It does really well through August and September, and in a good year goes right into October. A range of flowers look great right now, including Heleniums, Dahlias, Crocosmia, Cosmos and Rudbeckia.The effect of such a display for example like the one seen in the photo above taken at Kew this week, is pretty stunning.

We think it makes sense to have a late summer garden.It means the gardener can sit out in it and enjoy it when the weather is likely to be at it’s best!

Inspiration for late summer gardens comes from places like Bourton House, not far from Genus HQ.The gardens at Bourton use decorative topiary as their framework which reminds us that late summer gardens need shape and texture as much as colour. The East border at Bourton has hot Canna lillies, purple leaved Dahlias and red salvias which bring a touch of tropical glamour to the late summer scheme. A little further afield, Great Dixter too is famous for it’s late summer colour and the use of tropical and sub-tropical planting schemes. September is proof of the late summer floral pudding in the form of RHS Wisley Flower Show and Malvern Autumn Show are both great venues for looking at, and perhaps even buying, some late summer colour inspiration.

Roll-on the Indian summer we say!

Inspirational gardeners: Vita Sackville-West

6 August 2018

Vita Sackville-West and Harold on the steps at Sissinghurst Vita Sackville-West and Harold on the steps at Sissinghurst

Vita Sackville-West has many claims to fame. She was an accomplished writer and poet, circulated amongst the Bloomsbury Group attributed with modernising British social attitudes during the inter war years, and she was Virginia Woolf’s lover. She married Harold Nicolson a diplomat and journalist in 1913. It was with her husband that she bought Sissinghurst Castle in 1930. The Elizabethan manor in Kent had once been the ancestral seat of Vita’s family.

Harold and Vita combined interests and passions to develop the gardens together. Harold was interested in the formal structure of the garden, and had an important influence on the layout of the beds, which attempted regularity and intimacy. Vita was interested in a profusion of romantic flowers and colours providing contrasting informal planting. It was all about using as many plants as possible to create lavish impact. The innovation they brought about was the concept of “rooms” or “squares” dividing the garden up into smaller enclosures, each with its own character, whilst maintaining interesting views and vistas through the garden as a whole. This produced the Rose Garden, White Garden, Nuttery and Orchard Garden. Vita’s enduring legacy is her radical approach to colour, exemplified in the White Garden, where she landed on the concept of single colour planting schemes. Today, this is one of the most popular gardens in the National Trust estate attracting around 200,000 visitors a year.

Vita’s enthusiasm for gardening together with her practical and experimental approach made her very popular with the gardening public. She had three firm gardening principles: The first was ruthlessness – if it looks wrong or feels wrong then change it! Second was not to be too tidy in a garden, let self-seeded plants grow where they naturally fall, wild flowers mixing with cultivated plants in a garden was a bonus not a disaster. Thirdly, have an architectural plan, a colour plan and a seasonal plan. Vita passed on her ideas and enthusiasm through her writing in a weekly article on gardening for the Observer, which she continued to do for fourteen years up until a year before she died in 1962.

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