The Beth Chatto Gardens
Newsletter and plants of current interest
Issue 66 September 2014
The Gravel Garden
Drifts of Verbena bonariensis, clumps of Sedums and the delicate white and pink flowers of Gaura lindheimeri add splashes of colour amongst straw-coloured grasses, green carpets of thyme and silvery Lamb’s Ears. The bead-like fruits of Callicarpa - a favourite with the Blackbirds - turn a dark, almost metallic, violet colour .
The Water Garden.
Tall, dusky-pink Eupatorium and enormous Gunnera leaves screen the ponds from view, as visitors enter the Water Gardens. Miscanthus, Molinia and Pennisetum are among the grasses that now erupt into flower. Asters and rudbeckias add late colour in the borders.
The Woodland Garden
From September to early October, drifts of Colchicum, with their crocus-like, goblet-shaped flowers in shades of white, rosy-mauve and purple, can be found throughout the gardens. In spring they produce large, glossy green leaves which later turn yellow and need removing. They are also known as Naked Ladies, because of their appearance in autumn without their leaves. Other plants of interest in the Woodland Garden and along the Long Shady Walk (in the Water Garden) are the Japanese anemones, Hydrangea, Tricyrtis (Toad lily), yellow Kirengeshoma and Liriope muscari.
The Scree Garden
Pots of succulents are still on display. Grown against the wall is Vitis coignetiae, a vigorous vine with large rounded leaves that turn brilliant shades of crimson and scarlet in autumn.
Planting in autumn
Early autumn, in September, is an ideal time for ‘editing’ your borders. The ground is still warm, and there is enough time for the plants to establish before the winter. Look at your garden with a critical eye. Have you noticed any empty gaps that need filling or plant combinations that didn’t quite work as well as you had hoped? Are you thinking of extending an existing border or perhaps creating a new one? Make sure you’ve got a camera and a note pad at hand, as they’re a great aide-memoire, especially if you’re not planning on doing the jobs straight away. So, is it always a good idea to plant in autumn? Tender salvias and other borderline hardy plants benefit from having a full growing season to establish themselves before the winter, and are best planted in spring. Hardy, herbaceous perennials can be planted in early autumn, as long as you give them enough time (6-8 weeks) to establish before the winter, while most deciduous shrubs and trees still can be planted while they’re dormant (the period between dropping their leaves in autumn and buds starting to swell again in spring, as long as the ground isn’t frozen). If you’re dealing with very cold, wet and heavy soil it’s usually preferable to wait until the spring before planting. Heavy clay soils should be dug in autumn, when relatively dry, and left over the winter to allow the frost to break it down. Remember that good soil preparation is the key to success when you’re preparing a new border.
1. Gaura lindheimeri
Produces masses of delicate white, star-shaped flowers from July to October. G. ‘Siskiyou Pink’ is a good pink flowered form. G. ‘Corries Gold’ has goldmargined leaves and white flowers, which fade to pink.
‘ Matrona’, ‘Purple Emperor’ and ‘Herbstfreude’ - three of the taller forms - are looking good now, and the seed heads provide interest throughout the winter. ‘Pink Dome’, ‘Red Cauli’ and ‘Karfunkelstein’ are among our other favourites. Sedums can be cut back by half in May (known as the‘Chelsea chop’), to keep the plants compact.
3. Eupatorium maculatum
(Joe Pye weed)
A magnificent perennial with stout stems carrying large, pink, domed flower-heads, which attract lots of bees. Needs moisture retentive soil. Height 2.5m
4. Molinia caerulea subsp.
A beautiful, delicate grass, especially when back-lit by the sun. Carries graceful panicles above neat clumps of ribbonshaped leaves. Grow in moist, but well-drained soil, in full sun or part shade. Height 1.8m.
5. Euonymus (Spindle tree)
A deciduous shrub or small tree with good autumn colour and pink fruits, which split open to reveal bright orange-coated seeds.
6. Rudbeckia laciniata
Vernonia arkansana ‘Mammuth’
7. Tricyrtis (Toad lily)
Sprays of small, often spotted, lily-like flowers. Grow in sun or light shade in moisture retentive soil.
8. Hakonechloa macra
A wonderful grass that makes soft clumps of arching, yellow foliage, thinly variegated green. Looks great planted next to Gentiana asclepiadea, blue hostas or red-leaved Heuchera.
9. Sinacalia tangutica
Attractive, large heads of cool yellow flowers, followed by fluffy seed-heads.
10. Ceratostigma willmottianum.
A beautiful, small Chinese shrub with gentian-blue flowers. Once the foliage has dropped, the twigs and seed heads remain throughout the winter months. Cut back hard in spring. A good plant to attract the Humming Bird Moth.
Rainfall chart 2014
January 6.02 153.00
February 6.72 171.00
March 1.12 28.00
April 0.86 22.00
May 1.23 31.00
June 0.63 16.00
July 0.62 16.00
Aug (first 3 weeks)1.80 46.00
Rainfall 2013 19.11 485.00
Rainfall 2012 31.76 807.00
Rainfall 2011 17.94 456.00
Rainfall 2010 24.45 621.00
Rainfall 2009 23.35 593.00