Behind Castle Walls with Adam

July has been a busy month for us here in the gardens. It has been exceptionally dry and although we were delighted to see the sun and feel the balmy summer temperatures, it did create problems with watering. We have done a large amount of planting over the last few months, and it would be terrible to see everything suffering due to lack of water. Time taken watering pulls people away from their usual work so it’s always a challenge to keep the balance. There are certain areas of the gardens that deserve a special mention this time of year. If you are visiting in the next few weeks make sure to see our Tropical Border, Jungle and Fern Garden that have all exploded into growth over the past few weeks. The Herbaceous borders, Poison Garden and the Seven Sisters are also well worth seeing. There is good colour throughout the grounds and gardens though, and a little exploring often pays dividends. I recently had the pleasure of conducting tours of the gardens for several specialist horticultural groups and the feedback we received has been exceptional. It’s always good to get positive feedback, and it gives us all a little boost and encourages us to strive for even greater things. I am still regularly meeting visitors who are completely shocked by the size, scope and quality of the grounds and gardens here. Our target is to be world class and to make the gardens a destination in their own right and I love it when we get the recognition that I feel the team deserves. We are in the process of summer pruning our fruit trees. Apples and pears can be pruned now to encourage fruit buds to form next year and to maintain shape or train the tree into a shape. There are two periods for pruning, December/January, and July/August. As a rule, winter pruning encourages growth of new shoots and summer pruning discourages growth. We also prune stone fruits now, tipping back and tying in new growth on our wall trained plums, peaches, and nectarines. Stone fruits should only be pruned in early spring or midsummer as this reduces the chance of silver leaf disease. Fruit pruning is not very complicated if you follow a few basic rules, and there are many helpful sites on the internet with step-by-step guides. A good tip for this time of year is to plan your Autumn bulb order early. You can probably remember what you have in your garden, and what’s done well. Make a few notes as to where you would like some extra colour, then select bulbs that suit. Too often bulbs end up as an impulse buy that get stuck in a corner and forgotten about. This can lead to some nice surprises but often leads to disappointment. Bulbs, like any other plant, have certain preferences and it pays to do a little research first. A little planning now saves disappointment later. I was exploring one of our wildflower meadows over the weekend and was blown away by the diversity and numbers of insects that it supports. There was a constant hum of buzzing surrounding me and many varieties of bees feeding on flowers, giant dragonflies on the hunt, and butterflies fluttering by. We have left more areas to nature around the lake and field verges as well as creating specific wildflower meadows and I feel the whole estate is benefitting from being just that tiny bit wilder. I hope some of you will visit soon and see for yourselves. Adam