What to look for in July

Outdoor Gardens

In the warm glow of a July afternoon, relax and enjoy the gardens in all their midsummer splendour. Pick up some wonderful ideas for your own garden, like the adaptable campanula ‘Pritchards Variety’ – tall but seldom needs staking. Once the main flowers have finished, cut them off and smaller side branches will flower. You will find them on both sides of the Blue Border.

Wander through the magnificent rose arbour, or travel to our very own corner of Provence and breathe in the intoxicating perfume of lavender – a magnet for bees and butterflies. Discover the fascinating history of that English country garden favourite, the deliciously scented sweet pea – a timeline planting, beginning with the earliest cultivars from the nineteenth century, up to the present day.

A walk around the pond is always a rewarding experience, but July is particularly colourful and exuberant. See the gorgeous meadowsweet, Filipendula rubra ‘Venusta’, with its fluffy pink plumes. Blue agapanthus are coming into bloom, with their explosions of tiny star-like flowers – you may be surprised to learn that these beautiful plants are considered invasive weeds in parts of Australia and in their native South Africa.

Rainforest Biome

Cashews from tropical America are fruiting well this month, with kidney-shaped nuts rich in oil and protein. They have to be roasted and shelled before being eaten, and oil extracted from the shells is used as a lubricant in the production of plastics.

Decorating the Biome this summer is the stunning Rangoon creeper, Quisqualis indica, found growing in tropical forests. Blooming white at first, the flowers gradually darkens to pink and then finally to red as they reach maturity. Venture up to one of the most humid region of the biome – the top path of Amazonia, and you will find a splendid collection of Heliconias – spectacular flowers with brightly coloured bracts.

Mediterranean Biome

The exotic perfume of giant Burmese honeysuckle, dripping with nectar, greets visitors to the biome this month, along with the sweet floral scent of Spanish broom. A host of Australian annuals provide a rich carpet of colours and textures – look out for Rhodanthe, Schoenia and Waitzia along with the unforgettable kangaroo paw, Anigozanthos.

Wildflowers also adorn the Mediterranean and Californian landscapes. As part of a unique collaborative project with the London School of Fashion, you will be able to see a collection of mini-greenhouses, designed to harvest precious water from the air in arid regions – sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?

Outer estate

A scattering of glorious wildflower meadows await those who take the time to explore the Outer estate, and there is also much to see in Wild Chile with its unique collection of monkey puzzle trees and flowering shrubs, including the wonderful Chilean fire bush, Embothrium coccinem, a member of the Protea family. The extensive grounds surrounding the pit are a haven for wildlife of all kinds and well worth a visit this month. 

Summer plant highlights

Outdoor Gardens

The gardens in high summer are inspirational, uplifting and simply gorgeous.

In July, discover the fascinating history of that English country garden favourite, the deliciously scented sweet pea – a timeline planting, beginning with the earliest cultivars from the nineteenth century, up to the present day.

Throughout August, when dinosaurs stalk the landscape, head up to the flowerless garden, for an insight into what the earth looked like in Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. You will find luxuriant ferns, tree ferns and a host of flowerless plants.

In September, the crop gardens are at their productive best, and along with the usual favourites you will find some new additions, like the hardy kiwi, Actinidia arguta ‘Issai’, the ivy gourd and the horned melon. Also look out for the wonderberry, but be warned – the fruits are poisonous until ripe! 

Rainforest Biome

Native to Malaysia and Australasia, the beautiful torch ginger lights up the rainforest in July, and thrives in the hot, humid conditions of the rainforest. The flowers can be eaten and have an exotic, floral yet piquant flavour.

In August, check out the bananas and other tropical crops. The purple-fruited ‘Red Dakka’, is just one of our stunning varieties of banana. 

September sees the biome blooming with exotic hibiscus flowers, along with a succession of other stunners – blue ginger and heliconia.  

Mediterranean Biome

In August we are being treated to a mouth-watering display of tomatoes, featuring some unusual varieties like Apricot Dream and Indigo Rose. Our newly designed perfume exhibit, based on a Moorish courtyard garden, is now overflowing with a wonderful array of aromatic plants, including gardenias, patchouli and bergamot

Feel the heat in September, provided by a spicy crop of red hot chilli peppers, in myriad colours, shapes and flavours – you won’t find many of these in your local supermarket!