Beautiful Bodnant Garden near Conwy is marking the centenary of its grand terraces, famous for their rose gardens, lily pools and stunning mountain views, which were completed just before the outbreak of World War One in 1914. Events planned in celebration and remembrance include a special tour with one of the UK’s leading rose experts in July and, in August, a special rose planting to mark the centenary of the start of the Great War.
Gardener Fran Llewellyn says: '1914 marked probably the biggest achievement at Bodnant with the completion of the terraces. They are a testament to the vision of the garden’s founder family and to the men who built them, some of whom went away to fight and never came back. The fact that roses are still blooming on our beautiful terraces, and visitors from all over the world come to see them, is a lasting tribute.'
The National Trust garden is world famous for its five Italianate terraces which were built by the garden’s owner Henry McLaren between 1904 and 1914. He created a Top Rose Terrace, lawned Croquet Terrace, Lily Terrace with pond, Lower Rose Terrace with pergola walkways and Canal Terrace with it’s now iconic canal pond and Pin Mill.
On July 15 you can enjoy a unique opportunity to meet Michael Marriot, technical director of the award-winning David Austin Roses, who was involved in the renovation of the rose beds. He will be giving a morning tour of the rose terraces and this will be followed by slap up breakfast in the Pavilion tearoom.
In August there will be a planting of a special rose to mark the completion of the terraces and the centenary of the First World War.
For information about any events and to book a place on the breakfast walk call 01492 650460.
July and August are the months when all your hard gardening work can be seen and enjoyed, says Anthony from Coed y Dinas Garden Centre. Colours are brighter, lawns are greener and more time spent outdoors means you reap the rewards...
Watering is key at this time of year owing to the longer hours of daylight. All plants must be given sufficient water for a continuous display. Take care, though, not to water in direct sunlight or you risk scorching the leaves; it's better done in the evening or early morning. Try buying an irrigation system such as Hozelock Auto Watering Kit, £59.99, or Kingfisher's Micro-Irrigation Set ,£5.99, to ensure thorough watering throughout the summer.
Regular dead heading will help to provide continuous flowering on bedding plants and roses. Wisteria pruning should be done now, cutting back wispy new shoots back to five or six leaves from the main frame of the plant. Invest in a good quality pair of secateurs or pruners to help with the regrowth and to lessen damage to the plant flesh. Try Wilkinson Sword Razorcut Comfort Anvil pruner, £14.75. A good drench with a high potash fertiliser will help plants produce flower buds for next year.
Seek the shade
Greenhouses should be well shaded to prevent scorching in hot weather. As well as providing shade, Gardman's Greenhouse Shading (£9.99) is also treated to prevent mould, rot and bacteria. Dampen down greenhouse floors while watering to provide humidity for the plants and reduce the effects of red spider mite.
You say tomato
Tomato plants should be fed weekly with a high potash fertiliser. Pinch out any side shoots and tie up the leading shoot for both tomato and cucumber plants. Always remember to pick ripened fruit immediately to avoid disease and to encourage new flowers and fruit. Sow Lettuce, Chinese Cabbage, Spring Cabbage, Radish, Winter Spinach and Turnips now ready for the autumn, and take cuttings of tender perennials, Fuchsias and Pelargoniums.
Hedge your bets
Regular use of an electric trimmer will help to keep your hedges tidy. We stock ones from Stihl at £149 and Einhell at £37.99. Lawns are best if given regular cuts to keep them fresh right through the summer, ensuring the grass is not left too short in particularly hot weather so invest in a petrol mower such as Mountfield HP414 at £159.
So, you've dug out all the old rubbish, weeded the neglected flowerbeds and created the bare bones, the space that is your garden. Now comes the difficult bit – what to do next? Luckily, there are lots of places open near you to find inspiration.
Under the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) – and other village schemes too – lots of private gardens get opened up to the public for charity, and you can make the most of this by going behind closed doors (or gates, as it were) and visiting other 'real' gardens.
Going to awe-inspiring places such as Erddig House and Attingham Park is all very well – they're great fun to visit, but realistically, you're hardly going to create a parterre full of tulips in a Wrexham town garden. At NGS gardens, for a nominal entrance fee, you can get great inspiration and ideas for different plants and plant combinations and also discover new flowers that you might not have heard of. And, of course, chat to the proud gardeners about their inspiration. Plus, most NGS gardens offer tea and homemade cake. What better way to spend a sunny weekend?
To find out about gardens open near you, visit www.ngs.org.uk, and look out for the distinctive yellow, local-area leaflets and signs.
Head to the Weaver’s Garden at Trefriw Woollen Mills in Conwy, to see a fascinating display of plants connected with textiles.
There are plants which supply fibres, such as flax and phormium, natural dyes (woad, madder, dyer’s broom), soaps (soapwort, yucca) and moth repellents (pyrethrum, tansy) as well as some quirky connections - starchwort (or lords and ladies) was used to starch Elizabethan ruffs, lady’s bedstraw was used to stuff mattresses, and the colour pink was named after the flower which was itself called after the Tudor fashion of 'pinking, making decorative slashes and frills in doublets.
Trefriw Woollen Mill, Main Road, Trefriw. Visit www.t-w-m.co.uk or call 01492 640462
Glyn Smith, head gardener at Erddig House, on the joys of a scented summer
Scent in a garden is a valuable extra to all the beautiful coloured flowers. There is nothing better than strolling around a garden and getting a whiff of some nice plant drifting by on the air.
The most obvious and popular fragrance of summertime is the rose. It seems that every rose variety has a subtly different scent, from soapy to peppery sweetness. It doesn’t really matter what rose you choose, they are all scented. Look out for Margaret Merril, Whisky Mac and Iceberg, also the many shrub roses and English roses.
Probably my favourite scented plants are the sweet peas. So easy to grow, the queen of annual climbers proudly rises above all the other plants in the border, entwined on trellises and wig-wam supports, to waft their gentle scent on the breeze. We always grow them at Erddig to give cut flowers for the Hall.
The best and most highly scented variety of sweet pea is the purple and blue flowered Lathyrus Cupani. This is also the oldest variety, introduced around 1699. For a nice day out, why not pop along to the Wem sweet pea festival, on 19th and 20th July? There you can find an intriguing selection of old fashioned and modern varieties and seeds to buy to grow next year.
There are many other climbing plants that have fragrance. What about Honeysuckle, Wisteria or Jasmine? Scent in Clematis is usually confined to the smaller flowered species, not the large blousy hybrids, but one Clematis I would recommend for summertime is Clematis x triternata ‘Rubro-Marginata’. Although it has a long and tortuous name, it covers itself in masses of purple and white, scented flowers.
There are not many summer flowering herbaceous perennial plants that have scent. Irises are wonderful, as are Paeonias and Phlox, but the addition of a few lillies to the border can add that little bit of extra fragrance in later summer.
Shrubs can make big bold statements in the garden, so usually only a few can be grown in today’s smaller plots. I would never be without a Mock orange, or Philadelphus. Their heady, white, scented flowers will fill the air for yards around. We have a large clump of Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ just beside the garden gate and it really is a beautiful star. Other scented summer shrubs include the butterfly attracting Buddlejas, Lavender and Spartium junceum the ‘Spanish broom’, with a scent like juicy-fruit chewing gum.
Lastly, and suitable for even the smallest of gardens, are the herbs. There is nothing like a fiercely hot day for releasing the oils that make the culinary herbs so necessary to give interest to our cookery. Sage, coriander, curry plant, bay, mint, rosemary, basil, marjoram, camomile and my favourite herb, thyme plus the dusty sugar scent of wild Valerian flowers are all lovely. Just dangle your hands through their leaves, or pinch a little sprig to make a nose-gay as you walk around your paradise.
Find out more about Erddig House at www.nationaltrust.org
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