Summer in the gardens... looking good in July

Oh July! The month we've all been working towards from the beginning of the season thinking unreasonably that we will be on top of all the early seasonal work by the time it arrives - not so! We are still spinning like tops keeping up with the potting up work, planting out in the kitchen garden and after 5 inches of rain in June, we are furiously mowing grass and weeding, weeding, weeding! Summer rain is often a blessing although we would have been happy with a little bit less during June this year. It's a blessing because it means no external watering for all of this year's new plantings, which is a big relief for those who haul our large hoses around.

However, and isn't there is always one of those?, rain also means clouds, dull/cold weather and a drop off in visitor numbers and just when we really want to show off the place. So if you are reading this I'm presuming that you're a bit interested in the travails of West Dean gardening life and might like to help us by popping along to see how the garden is looking at this time of year.

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Everything's coming up roses

Borders roundup: In spring this year the rose borders in the walled fruit garden were replanted and after a few months growth looks terrific with some future tweaking and editing. The rain has really helped establish the new plantings although there's a bit of black spot to control on the new roses. The nearby yellow and blue border had a few amendments in early spring, the Achillea and Nepeta were replaced with better behaved cultivars and Anne, the border Queen, has given the selections the thumbs up as they are much more manageable plants.

Elsewhere in the gardens the pergola border has segued into its pink phase as the roses take over from the blue Iris in June. Along the front of the pergola Rosa 'Rosey Cushion' will bloom from now until eternity, it's such a dependable rose and very floriferous. And things are heating up on the hot border in the kitchen garden as an early flush of yellow will shortly be enlivened by oranges and reds.

Just wild about meadows!

It takes two people five weeks to cut and cart our lovely wild flower meadow swards in the gardens. We've now completed this task and have moved on to the summer cut of the Arboretum wild flower meadows which will take considerably longer a larger site. This is why I always hesitate when I'm asked "When do you cut the hay meadows?" as really, the correct answer here is "anytime throughout summer". It's an example of a task which takes us weeks even months but which you might do in a day at home.

Nuts about fruit trees

Summer pruning of fruit at West Dean is currently underway revealing the many desired designed shapes beneath the fringe of summer growth. Some of the designs of the fruit trees in the kitchen garden were copied from a book on the fruit trees in the Potager du Roi in Versailles where historically, superlative fruit tree training abounded. The book (in French!) is a source of inspiration for all fruit tree nutters such as us.