June- June drop

Published: 30 June 2021

Last update: 30 June 2021

Blog post
This blog post is written by Chris Flynn, Head Gardener Chris Flynn Head Gardener
Water lilies on the central canal at Dyffryn Gardens

June drop- the term for the time of year when evergreens will shed their previous years leaves. Those that had protected and nourished them for a season, now set aside for the next batch. It certainly feels like a time of renewal. Renewal of ideas, renewal of practices and of setting ourselves up to be as productive as possible until this time next year.

My mind is whirring again. I can’t help but drift to this time next year. Where will we be? What will be happening? Will the bedding scheme have worked? Those types of questions keep popping into my head all the time. It makes sense I suppose, the future for the gardens is bright, I can see it coming and some of those future successes are almost within touching distance. However, rampant brambles and persistent creeping thistle keep snapping me back to the reality in which I find myself. Attempting to predict the weather, getting mowing regimes in sync, placing orders (mundane things, no exciting plants just yet!) and creating work schedules to name but a few of the time bandits that occupy my day.

Of course, amongst the constant worry of the ever-expanding jobs list, there are lots of special moments to take in to return a bit of perspective to the swimming mind of a Head Gardener. The discovery of possibly two new species of orchid in the meadows, the fleeting but always incredible flowering of the tulip tree in the West Garden and the massing of flowers amongst the water lilies.

Early on in my time here giving tours of the gardens, I’d reliably mention that Dyffryn was a ‘journey into the imagination’ on the basis that we had a long way to go to get to where we are going, but it will be an incredible place when we get there. More and more of this was becoming reality and the imagination was free to wander even further into the future. Now that has had to be scaled back and the power of the imagination is to be focussed on the more immediate future. We’ve taken several steps backwards in the last year because of covid. To go forwards again we need to take a couple of steps to the side and walk a new path to find exactly what it is that we’re capable of, but I can tell you for definite that I’m excited!

I must stress that there is plenty of excitement to be had too, I shouldn’t be too dower about the present. Every day the garden is progressing, not just in terms of the season, but also the extra arm wrestle that we seem to be locked in with the perennial weeds. More ground is cleared, more plantings re-discovered or added to, and more of the garden is coming back into flower. It does seem like the season has finally caught up. After feeling like we were 3-4 weeks behind, all the specialities have finally emerged for the summer. Choice amongst these are the Hedychium have now all emerged from beneath the mulch of the Exotics Garden. There might be fewer flowers about this year given how short a season they’ll end up having, but amongst a plant group like that, any flowers are always a joy. We’ll give them a good feed this year to get lots of energy back into the rhizomes and hope for a warmer, drier start to next year. Having said that the extra bit of moisture this year has really helped the Sanguisorba tenuifolia ‘Alba’ on the Causeway borders. They’re flowering really well this year and are hopefully sending lots of roots down to get them through any future dry periods.

As I write this, I am sitting outside the front of my house. Beyond the warm orange sandstone of the walls a combination of Nepeta yunnanensis, Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ and Astrantia ‘Red Joyce’ are all settling very well together. More reasons to be cheerful!