Sunday 12 August 2012

Wisley Gardens - Hydrangeas, herbaceous and herbs

I visited Wisley for a couple of hours the other afternoon to take some pictures of Hydrangea paniculata.  I remember them beig particularly spectacular on Battlestone Hill - that wooded part of the garden near the Trial Ground that was so famous for its Rhododendrons and spring colour.  The best from a trial of Hydrangea paniculata was planted out here a couple of years ago and I wasn't disappointed. 

Seeing them in flower in containers in the garden centre gives little idea of their potential when planted in semi-shade in fertile soil.  Even shrubs such as Hydrangea Vanilla Fraise and Limelight, which I had considered rather spindly little characters prove here that they can develop into fabulous, flamboyant plants that light up the garden when so many other shrubs are sinking into autumn slumber.

Of course the other feature of Wisley Gardens at this time of the year are the herbaceous perennials.  The double herbaceous borders really are quite magnificent.  For me, throughout the gardens Heleniums steal the show.  I love these prairie flowers for their velvety, button-eyed blooms in rich autumn, sunset shades.  They remind me of exotic moths, sometimes tapestry.  On a warm sunny evening their coloulrs really are extravagant and luxurious.

The small gardens are generally looking a bit tired after a few warm days and a drier spell of weather - remarkably good I suppose considering the summer we've had.  I was taken with this bed of sage and lavender surrounding a birdbath.  These woody herbs are great plants for this type of situation. Salvia officinalis 'Icterina' is a plant I forget about; I use the purple one all the time, but this is such an uplifting colour.  It is eyecatching but does not jar as many yellow oliage plants tend to do.  I love it with blue - bet its good with Perovskia - maybe I'll talk about that great autumn plant next time............

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