There’s an autumnal feel in the air. We’ve enjoyed a fantastic summer – one of the best in years – and there’s still time for more balmy days and nights yet, but as we move from August to September there are subtle changes in the garden and signs that the season is moving on.
But that’s no cause to be down hearted. Here at Bodnant Garden the gradual burnishing of the leaves across our tree-rich landscape and the burst of late summer flowering shrubs and herbaceous perennials promise a host of delights yet to come.
The upper garden is alive with colour; dahlias, rudbekias and heleniums provide an explosion of heat in the Range Borders; roses are still blooming their hearts out in a kaleidoscope of colour and scent across our two rose terraces and the Lily Terrace is a pastel pink picture of swaying ornamental grasses, lavenders, salvias, verbenas and diascias.
Anemone hupehensis and Monarda citriodora
Japanese anemones jostle along the stone terrace steps and paths and late flowering clematis still scramble over the walls and pergolas. A familiar face at this time of year is Clematis tangutica, its yellow flowers now beginning to turn to drooping fluffy seedheads.
Hedge cutting has started again in the formal upper garden now we are safely out of bird nesting season and you might catch the smell of fresh clippings as you wander around.
Eucryphia glutinosa and the hips of Rosa moyesii geranium
In the dappled shade of the Shrub Borders eucryphias burst with white blossom overhead in the tree canopy while dotted through the greenery of the beds are scarlet crocosmia and the crismson hips of species roses. From here you can also see the mowing going on through the meadow grass of The Glades, Chapel Park and the Old Park – the bales of hay another reminder of harvest time ahead.
Meanwhile down in The Dell it is the season for hydrangeas; swathes of thousands of blue mopheads and lacecaps sweep all along the riverside. But look out too for the spires of ivory Hydrangea paniculata and creamy Hydrangea quercifolia with its oak-like leaves – now turning copper and pink. Ferns are beginning to bronze, set against great mounds of lush hostas – you’d have to go along way to see slug-free displays like the ones here too (how we keep them that way is one of the most asked questions by visitors…watch this space and we might tell you one day!)
It’s a lovely time of year, as the heat of high summer turns to something softer, deeper and richer. We’ve lots to look back on and still lots to look forward to – and who knows we might yet get an Indian Summer.