Our busiest months have passed by in a flash and we are now closed for a breathing space, until September. However, as all keen gardeners know, breathing spaces don’t happen often and we are treating this time to really begin to review the borders, both through planting and the execution of our development plans for the Autumn! All the while busily harvesting both fruit, flowers and delicious vegetables from the Potager, despite the best efforts from the many pigeons to take what is rightfully ours. Tended and nurtured from seed to prospective plate….just in time for them to get in there first and do their best to eat the lot!

Our roses have been truly wonderful, with Rosa Raubritter stealing the show once again in June all across the front of the house. We have definitely put this down to the support of the garlic folia feed we have been using, Aston Horticultural. It seems that every time we use it within a week they perk up and look as healthy as they first did. Of course, this does need to be administered every three weeks or so. But it’s worth it and it doesn’t harm the insects.  We have also used it in the Potager and are proud to say that so far, this year, we have not used any pesticides, only once, when we needed to carefully kill a couple of mean weeds on the paths in there but having now bought a weed burner that will stop. So, garlic has ruled and not a whiff of it on our produce either. Clever stuff!

July saw us host our first Bach Walk, part of The Oundle Music Festival, which we had been preparing for in the garden for several months. It was to be a celebration of music and the garden. Starting with tea, followed by drinks including our homemade Rhubarb cordial with a twist! Then, after a wander around the garden and walk across sun kissed meadows to our church, a return to the garden for either your own picnic or dinner in the Barn with a menu of Warm Duck and Orange Salad or Caponata Filo Pie, followed by Rhubarb Compote with Lavender Shortbread or Harrow Mess on the Menu, all made from produce in the garden…except the Duck of course! However, the weather decided it had different ideas on that day and the heatwave broke and the rain came down from morning to night. So sad!

Our guests and visitors where extremely good natured and everyone did their best to find shelter in the gardens for their picnics. Luckily the awnings we had set up in the garden and the two rooms in the Barn, for those who booked for dinner, withstood the deluge and candles and flowers and wine kept spirits up! Thank you to all those who attended and especially to those who found the most inventive places in which to eat; the best one being under the very tiny old shed in the Yellow Garden. Leaning at an angle of more than 30% to one side, the shed houses an ancient tractor and a lot of spiders! An intrepid group of diners rustled up a table and chairs and we found them happily toasting the rain and their dry picnic towards the end of the evening!

Back to the garden, and sadly most of the roses are now over for this year and the time for Salvias, and other lovelies such as Hydrangea Annabelle, Dhalias, Clematis and Cosmos are arriving. We welcome the hotter colours of mid-summer and pray for warmer summer days to follow and our Autumn opening of the gardens on Sunday September 10th for a last hurrah of colour.

If whilst reading this you too are beginning to think about closing down your own garden and planning for next year’s planting, why not join one of our Masterclasses at the beginning of September. There will be one dedicated to autumn pruning and a second on autumn propagation. Each course is half a day and will be led by our Head Gardener Ben Houston. This will ensure you get the best out of your plants for next year by careful pruning now and will ensure you can grow more of your favourite plants for next year by propagating them yourself. How satisfying would that be? Spaces are limited so we can give maximum tuition to each student on the day, but there is the option of either a morning or afternoon class to choose from. Further details can be found on our website under Masterclasses, click here >>.