A lovely day was had by all, despite the rain, for our visit to Pashley Manor Gardens, on Wednesday 14 September. The first wow factor was the magnificent and absolutely huge 500-year-old spreading oak tree that is the same age as the frontage of the Manor House. The second wow factor are the gardens: exquisitely beautiful, divided into several colour-co-ordinated garden ‘rooms’ which lead to the fabulous terrace, with sweeping views of the long borders, lawns, lake (once a moat) and surrounding trees to the countryside beyond. After a refreshing coffee, many joined a half-hour gardener’s dahlia ‘talk and walk’ around sections of the garden’s long borders. I loved the gardens so much that I am aiming to visit again on a sunny day so that I can relax on the terrace and absorb the spirit of the place.
Thinking we would take advantage of the extra days made available for visits to Perch Hill, we chose the one for container planting. However, on the day it was the dahlias that stole the show and which we will remember!
Although rain was not forecast, we arrived to a little bit of a mizzle and a very grey sky – in the photographs this has tended to deaden the exuberant colours. We were knocked out by Penhill Watermelon, Geri Scott and the delicious Apricot Desire, but it would be impossible to choose one favourite out of all the lovely colours. Although some are critical of the Sarah Raven enterprise, there is no question that the gardens are beautifully styled. Of course, plants are labelled so that anything you see you will find on their website, but it is a commercial business. In fact, it is good to find a label so that you can identify what you are looking at! Salvias are everywhere, edging the herbaceous borders, in pots as well as mixed through the beds. These are such versatile plants.
Anne Barnard from Rose Cottage Plants nursery in Essex has many years experience of and is a specialist in growing dahlias, as well as exhibiting widely including at RHS shows. Dahlias, which originate in Mexico and Central America, come in a wide variety of colours from pastel to rich reds and mahogany.
Anne described how planting dahlias in summer beds can transform them and suggested how to choose and use them to best effect. Anne said they provide an outlet for personal creativity, style and artistic expression. She used her own garden, field displays in Holland and Chenies Manor as illustrations.
Dahlias had gone out of fashion, but in recent years there had been a revival of interest in them. Their rich colours were particularly attractive and ‘jewel’ gardens had become common. Many new and more popular and often exotic looking varieties had been developed. Many originate in Holland and she visited several important and influential growers. She said after bulbs, tulips and alliums have flowered by June/July, gardens begin to look tired and dahlias wide variety and rich colours give life to the garden and make a good display right up to the first frosts.
Anne went on to describe a wide variety of dahlias:
Annie has harvested her garlic and it’s done very well this year. I expect these would have been part of her Autumn Show entry, never mind, next year..
Cutting back lavender is this month’s job. Kathy was a bit mystified by these structures revealed when the lavender was cut back. They look a bit like Nigella seed cases! But Mr Google says that they are the nests of the Wasp Spider, a fearsome looking spider which is spreading to the South East of England from the continent. It is actually quite harmless, and mimics the wasp so that predators leave it alone.
A lovely selection of Cosmos and Dahlias, definitely September’s flowers. These are Cosmos Purity, Dahlias Verrone’s Obsidian, Mexican Star and Bishop of Auckland. (Plus an unknown beautiful double red one).