How do we keep the slugs off our Hostas?
This is probably the most frequently asked question.
The combination of our low annual rainfall and plenty of natural predators (birds) certainly helps. Generally the coarser, larger-leaved forms seem much less prone to slug-damage. Perhaps they are less tasty? We do use slug-pellets sparingly, just as the foliage is starting to emerge in spring. During an exceptionally wet summer additional spot treatment may be necessary, but only on those Hosta and Ligularia showing sign of slug damage.
This month the Mount Etna broom’s (Genista aetnensis) weeping branches are covered in yellow pea-like, sweetly scented flowers and thefat buds of Romneya coulteri (Tree Poppy) open into huge flowers with white crinkled, tissue-like petals and a yellow centre. Stipa barbata, a beautiful grass, puts on a fairly short, but spectacular show with it’s silky, silvery-white flowers waving in the slightest breeze. From mid-July clumps of blue Agapanthus provide a welcome splash of colour. Helianthemum (Rock rose)and Nepeta get a trim back after flowering and should produce a second flush of flowers later in the season.
Here there’s lush growth everywhere. Gunnera, Hosta, Darmera and Miscanthus amongst others, give contrasting foliage shape and texture, while Astilbe, Geranium, Filipendula and Hemerocallis provide the colour. Stop for a moment at the bottom of the grassy path leading up into the Reservoir Garden to admire the pretty white, camellia-like flowers and the attractive peeling, patchwork bark of Stewartia pseudocamellia, one of our favourite trees.
The Reservoir Garden
Purple-leaved Cotinus (Smoke bush), silvery Eryngium giganteum (Miss Willmott’s ghost), blue Echinops ritro (Globe thistle) and the giant fennel, Ferula communis, are among the feature plants. At the back of the Long Border one of the tallest Meadow Rues, Thalictrum ‘Elin’, creates a haze of purple and cream flowers.
A quieter time of year, but the red, glistening berries of Actaea rubra might catch your eye. Nearby the pale creamy-yellow flowers of Aconitum lycoctonum subsp. vulparia (Monkshood) arch over the narrow path. Large swathes of Symphytum (Comfrey) and Geranium are being cut back hard with a scythe after flowering, leaving large empty gaps, but within weeks new growth will emerge.
The Scree Garden
Beth’s collection of succulents is on display outside her house. Growing against one of the house walls is a Buddleja crispa with white-woolly arching stems and soft lilac, fragrant flowers.