There are indeed empty beds on the South Front and for very good reason. Other than this small omission, colour and scent are in abundance around the rest of the garden.
Usually by this time of year the annual beds are chocked full with vibrant new planting, just starting to spread their roots. This year however, the bedding will have to stay in the nursery for just a little longer. As a part of the South Front project we have taken the opportunity to return the annual beds to their original proportions and edge them in mild steel to ensure that they never lose their shape again. As soon as the beds are edged and the turf re-instatement has occurred the new planting will arrive. This year’s scheme is a complete departure from the lush and overstated tropical planting of the previous summer. Working in mostly pinks and whites, with a few bolder accents the south front borders will play host to Dahlias, Salvias, Nigella, Gaura, and Verbena. This will be softened by delicate heads of Orlaya and the soft pink inflorescence of the foxtail barley, Hordeum jubatum.
One of the many joys of working with annuals is that you can do something completely different each year with the added bonus of it lasting only a few months if it all goes horribly wrong! We’ve already begun work on next summer’s scheme and without giving too much away, it will all be about scent.
Nature is just as busy in the garden as we are at this time of year. Speckled through the meadows, bulbs and wildflowers accent the purple and gold hues of the delicate native grasses that are gradually taking over following the change in cutting. Though only small, the hemi-parasitic yellow rattle that is proliferating throughout the meadow areas is a key plant in reducing the mass of rank, dominant grass species, paving the way for other species to come through. As it has green leaves it can still photosynthesise, but hijacks the roots of grass species to take up water. It’s a great little introduction if you want to convert any existing grass to meadow.
Adding yellow rattle and instigating a meadow management regime has quickly developed the meadows at Dyffryn greatly increasing the diversity in our native plant communities as well as increasing their associated fauna including, bees, butterflies, moths, amphibians, small mammals and a host of bird species. Whilst it’s not as quick as sowing wildflower seed out of a packet, this long term approach will guarantee that the plants appearing are suited to the conditions and will always put on a show.
Patience, particularly in horticulture, is a virtue. June is a month of anticipation and change. The gardens are changing by the moment and it’s a great time to get out and see it all happening.