The perfect flower for a ruined mansion and other tips from English gardens | THE COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER

In a continuation of summer garden inspiration from last week, here more ideas to borrow from the great gardens of England:

The third week of July is time to deadhead or remove the spent flowers from your roses, perennials and container gardens.

If your petunias are going Vegas on you – getting a bit seedy and leggy – then clip them back to half their size and fertilize for a flush of fresh new blooms. Clip off the blooming spikes of hosta, heucheras and coleus to keep these foliage plants looking tidy. Cut back delphiniums so they are just a few feet tall, then fertilize for a second flush of blooms.

When leafy greens such as lettuce, kale or Swiss chard send up flowering stems clip these off to encourage more leaf growth. When lettuce bolts or goes to seed, pull up the plants or bury them in the soil. Lettuce and many other leaf crops turns bitter once it blooms.

Now, in a continuation of summer garden inspiration from last week, here more ideas to borrow from the great gardens of England:

Ideas from Aberglasney Gardens – A restored manor house in East Wales, England

This was my favorite garden of all the spectacular gardens we saw in England. The creative plantings were arranged around garden ruins, inside a walled garden with an unusual raised walkway and along the pathway of a woodland walk. This garden paid homage to the 500 years of gardening history on the site but breaks from tradition to showcase new plants and ideas.

Take Home Idea (if you happen to have the ruins of a mansion on your property): create a Ninfarium.

Head gardener Joseph Atkin of Aberglasney gardens says the idea and made up name for the Ninfarium comes from Rome where the Ninfa Gardens have been blooming on ruins since ancient times. In Wales, the central rooms of the crumbling manor house have been covering with a glass ceiling and tropical plants added in the place of furnishing.

Palm trees and bananas grow from openings in the once grand marble floor, vines spread out on walls that once hung with portraits and instead of rugs from the Orient, exotic groundcovers from the Far East add a tapestry of color and texture.

The Ninfarium of Aberglasney is just the most unique, and little known garden in the world. It will make you want to put a greenhouse roof on every abandoned house you see and plant a tropical jungle.

Plant Idea: Aberglasney Gardens includes a pond garden, sunken garden and walled garden but the garden with the plant material that is most practical for our Western Washington gardens is the new woodland walk showcasing shade loving plants such as primulas, lilies, hosta and corydalis.

The show stopper plant in this garden is the gigantic, six foot tall, fragrant white lily called lily Cardiocrinum giganteum. Cardio means heart in Latin, so I suspect the name refers to the fact that the fragrance and size of this lily is likely to cause heart attacks – or at least a bit of a flutter in the chest.

Great Dixter – In County Kent, outside of London

The late, great garden author Christopher Lloyd left the care of his masterpiece garden in the hands of new head gardener Fergus Garret. (We went all the way to England to find out Mr. Garret will be coming to speak at a sold out seminar at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens this summer, by the way.) Some new ideas added to this very colorful garden are the inclusion of more weeping evergreens into the hot color garden and the use of even more brilliant color combinations. We loved the fearless combinations of red, purple and yellow in the mixed borders. In nature there are no clashing colors – just plant more color.

Plant Idea: Verbascium olympicum : Form and structure is very important in the mixed borders and this upright perennial with drought resistant gray foliage and spiky yellow blooms was used with floppy roses and trailing clematis to over some contrast.

This verbascium grows to five feet tall and the wide, furry leaves are drought and pest resistant and even more impressive than the flower spikes.


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