September- Dazzling dahlias

Chris Flynn, Head Gardener Chris Flynn Head Gardener
A view of Dyffryn House through the gardens.

Is the glass half empty or half full? Is September late summer or early autumn? I’m going to plump for late summer.

Whilst the foodie in me adores the bounty of autumn, the gardener is holding on for the final flourish of summer flowers from the many exotic plants that adorn the gardens at Dyffryn.

Having played a huge part in the history of Dyffryn, the dahlia has to be at the top of the list for a late summer wow. Producing an abundance of flower and only falling at the first frost, these spectacular Mexican introductions always make it into the summer bedding on the South Front. In a few years’ time, as part of the re-introduction of the ‘Lost Gardens of Dyffryn’, they will return to the Sunken Dahlia Garden.  

Elsewhere the eternally elegant ginger lilies (Hedychium sp.) are dotted throughout the Exotics Garden, which will open officially in May next year. After a very successful visit to the National Collection of Hedychium in Chichester, we returned with a further nineteen varieties that will all add scent and colour to the Exotics.

On the subject of scent, a great small tree/large shrub for any garden is Clerodendron trichotomum. Very tough and forming a single stem (though do keep an eye on any suckers that appear around the original plant), from August into September you get an abundance of heavily scented white flowers, flowed by metallic blue/grey fruits surrounded by a bright red calyx. At this time of year the scent carries beautifully across the West Garden especially on a warm evening.

Those warm evenings will alas become increasingly scarce, though the overnight temperatures are still high enough to keep things growing. Mowing and deadheading abound and are the vanguard for the nuts and bolts bit of gardening. Particularly as October looms and the glory of summer makes way for the comfort of autumn the forgotten bits of caring for the garden become that much more important. Keeping the edges tight, the lawns mown, the weeding under control, pots washed, labels front and centre are the backbone that keeps the last of those summer blooms looking at their best  

Yes, the first signs of the autumn colour are beginning to appear on some of the flowering cherries and species acers up in the arboretum, but until the first frost lands our late summer heroes will keep doing what they do best, so do take the time to pop out into the garden and enjoy the final hoorah of the summer.

Chris Flynn

Head Gardener, Dyffryn Gardens