GARDENING: It’s time to start cutting back

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Although it seems like summer has just started, it’s already time to cut back some early flowering perennials such as geraniums, centaurea and oriental poppies to ensure there is plenty of room for other later flowers to do their thing.  

We started off our dahlias in pots early in the greenhouse and have now used them to fill in any gaps left from cutting down, they have started showing through and flowering nicely in patches of dark red, peach and white.

One thing I always do is take photos of the borders at various times of the year, which you should try at home, as no matter how sure you are that you can remember what the border looks like, you will be amazed at how much you can forget.

August is a great time to take photos, they act as a useful reminder when autumn comes, which is the time for moving and splitting plants, so we can see which perennials are getting too big for their space and making it a bit crowded.

Speaking of borders, our fountain terrace border is a place for relaxation with delicate colours of white, mauve and pinks.

On our top and bottom buttress borders we have plants that we try to team up together to make stunningly colourful displays, such as pale yellow achillea beneath a velvety dark red rose, like the sympathie, or white shasta daisies with crocosmia lucifer, and the lilac firework effect flowers of monarda ‘Beauty of Cobham’, and my favourite rose, the wonderfully fragrant peachy orange of Princess Margarita.

The roses and sweet peas are growing like mad now, and we are continually on our rounds tying them in.

If you grow sweet peas at home, keep picking the sweet peas and cut off any seed heads to encourage continuous flowering.

We leave our wild poppies to seed where they like and we have many amazing variations on our top borders.

Many of Haddon Hall’s visitors ask for the seed heads when they catch me in the gardens, in order to grow their own at home.

I find that poppies only seem to grow for us here when I treat them mean and scatter them on poor soil and not in prepared beds, as you might think.

Haddon Hall is firmly in its peak season, and we’re expecting a lot of visitors when the Nik Ramage exhibition opens in August, hopefully taking in the sights and smells of the gardens as well as exploring the hall and exhibition.

* Haddon Hall is a stately home with a grand Tudor hall and Elizabethan gardens. Phone 01629 812855.