September 2017

The idea of the this blog is to showcase the garden throughout the year, focusing on areas of the garden, the design and the plants that can often be overlooked. In this first post I am going to focus on two of my favorite garden areas that really come into their own in September.

Firstly the Mediterranean garden which is situated around the center of the walled garden. It’s an area often overshadowed by the water flame garden opposite, which mesmerizes visitors with its fire fountain. However the Med garden as we call it is probably one of the best examples of succession planting in the whole of Houghton, one which it achieves with a very limited plant palette.

The flowering season starts with Alliums, reaching their peak in mid May and providing lasting interest as their showy seed heads dry.  When the Lavender starts to flower in early July we remove the Allium seed heads to allow these lilac blooms to take pride of place. Then in August we can cut back the Lavender just before the Verbena bonariensis takes over with their slender purple inflorescences. Even now in late September the Verbena are flowering profusely and will continue until the last frost.

Far from the season ending there, which would be a good showing of around six months we can leave the Verbena well into the New Year, as they are one of a group of plants that look magnificent as winter structure. This also gives them a chance to set seed for the following year so the disposition of the garden changes annually.

The other garden feature which is looking magnificent right now is our Clematis arbour. Close to the Med garden but against the rear east facing wall this garden structure is one of the many created by designers Julian and Isabel Bannerman. The arbour is relatively sparse for much of the year but between early August and October it erupts into flower as two of the most vigorous scrambling Clematis twine their way through it.

The first is Clematis tangutica which not only produces delicate yellow flowers but the equally synonyms seed heads which are often used in flower arrangements and persist all winter. The other and perhaps less known is Clematis rehderiana , the nodding virgins bower, which produces clusters of small bell shaped flowers. We are very lucky at Houghton to have the space to be able to grow these plants which are so vigorous most home gardens would struggle to accommodate them.


Ollie Wilkins

Head Gardener