the oast garden in august

Sarah takes us on a tour around the Oast Garden at Perch Hill in late August and talks through her favourite varieties and planting methods.

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This is the Oast Garden and it's late summer now, it's August in fact and normally gardens are really becoming quite grey and brown and boring by that stage, but there's still quite a lot going on in here. It's partly because it's a late year but also because there are lots of late plants. And so, agapanthus all the way down the path, this is a variety called 'Navy Blue' (or 'Midnight Star') which I love in pots and I've had them in pots now for about five years and even when they go over I love their green bead seedpods even without the petals. So I love that.

And then this massive tall perennial sunflower which is called Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' and that's the whole idea about the Oast Garden, is that it's not all sort of down here and really tidy and kind of man dominating nature, but the whole idea is that it's sort of nature dominating man - it's like Rousseau and like you, you know, expect to perhaps see a tiger poking out kind of thing, but with a Howard Hodgkin palette, so a really, really strong lovely rich saturated colour palette but with this sort of jungly-ness. So there's plants like this Arunda donax, the sunflower, and then right by the path rather than at the back of the border there's this lovely black-leaf Sambucus nigra.

And then self-sown, there's lots of self-sowing here to make it feel very natural and relaxed, this is Eryngium 'Miss Willmott's Ghost' and there's a very lovely story about this plant. Miss Willmott was a famous gardener, Edwardian gardener, and she used to go into her friends' gardens, including Gertrude Jekyll, who of course is very famous, and she used to scatter seeds of this plant and it has to be very fresh and you just have to direct sow it. And that's why it's called 'Miss Willmott's Ghost' because the following year, because it's biennial, this plant would appear so it would be like Miss Willmott's ghost, so I rather love that and I allow that to self sow all the way down the edges of the path.

And then these are two quite new discoveries for me. I had walked past all the argyranthemums in the garden centre so many times thinking, 'oh, I don't know, maybe they're just a bit too neat and tidy for me', but I am totally in love with them now because these have been honestly in flower since June. They just have not stopped. This is a variety called Argyranthemum 'Cherry Red' and I love it with this, which is Cosmos 'Antiquity' and it's a very good variety for pots because it doesn't get too big. And you can see the two almost match but one is bigger than the other. It needs a little bit of deadheading, the cosmos, but apart from that they are just so low maintenance. So, planted in May - June and they will just go on flowering until October - November, they honestly, honestly will.

And then Rosa moyesii over there, beautiful single flowers and a lovely sort of carmine pink and then it's very famous for its beautiful seedpods, well not seedpods, of course, they're rosehips. They're this extraordinary shape and they start that green, then they go orange and then they turn red, they're very beautiful so you don't want to prune it too hard so you get lots of them.

And then Crocosmia 'Lucifer', a classic plant for August and really beautiful with dahlias, really beautiful for picking. And so I've got things like Dahlia 'Sam Hopkins' there with it and 'Thomas Edison' in there and more pots of the argyranthemums. And then acanthus, which also loves the sun so that's why it's out on the edge of the path. If it gets in the shade it tends to get a little bit mildewy so you really want that out in full sun. And I like that just sort of romping around the pots.

And then, it's gone over now, but I've left it just because I find it so architectural, angelica, and I probably will take that done in the next few days or weeks because it really is going over now. But that has been, since May, just dominating that whole border really beautifully. And another favourite self-sower for me is Smyrnium perfoliatum and it's beautiful acid green in April and May and here we are in August and I know it's going brown but it's still pretty handsome, so I tend to leave that for a long time.

And so that's that axis and then if you come here, what I love about this garden is that it has this second axis, and we're now living in the Oast House there and so you have this completely different view and completely different feel with this much more formal York stone path and the wonderfully highly scented Trachelospermum jasminoides on the balcony posts. Balconies on Oasts are actually called green stages, because that's where you would put the hops, which would then be put in the kiln to dry, and so that's what that balcony is, it's in fact somewhere for the hops to sit before they're loaded in. And the trachelospermum just works so well growing up the posts.

And then the final new thing that I've added this year, which I'm so pleased with is this new scented leaf pelargonium called 'Sweet Mimosa'. Often I use deep, saturated colours, and I do in here, but actually I really love that very pale soft pink scented leaf pelargonium - delicious in cordials, we use the leaves a lot, delicious in blackberry and apple pie - but that lovely, lovely soft colouring is so nice I think against the grey of the oak. So I'm very please with that and I'll definitely repeat it next year.

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