29 June 2022

Volunteer gardener and talented photographer Catherine Brightwood shares her thoughts and photos from the last month in the gardens.

We are already six months into Furzey’s centenary year!

June began with torrential rain and ended in the same way but we were lucky enough to have weeks of glorious sunshine sandwiched in between.

The rain at the start of the month left beautiful jewel-like droplets on the leaves of the hostas.  When the sun came out, we were treated to the sight of the amazing gunnera leaves which have reached their lofty peak.

Hosta leaf and gunnera

On a walk around the gardens, I was happy to see that the foxgloves I transplanted earlier in the year are rapidly growing and some already have small flower stems on them.  The more mature foxgloves towered above me, easily 2 metres tall.  It is such a joy to see bees and butterflies enjoying the flowers that we have planted and looked after.  One day, my attention was caught by a gentle humming sound.  I followed the sound and found our Manuka honey tree (Leptospermum scoparium).  It was covered in a profusion of pure white flowers, which were, in turn, covered in hundreds of bees!  Next to this tree, I found the amazing ornamental Chilean Lantern Tree (Crinodendron hookerianum), which has lantern-shaped, crimson-pink flowers.  They almost looked like strawberries hanging in the shiny, dark green foliage.

Lantern tree and foxglove

The blue Meconopsis poppies flowered spectacularly this month and were as beautiful as anticipated.  Seeing them backlit by the sun, they almost looked luminescent.  I spent an enjoyable hour making a small fence from willow arches, to protect them from any accidental trampling.  Another gorgeous specimen which flowered was the White Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus).  It is actually a member of the olive family, but has delicately fragranced, creamy-white flowers in June and July.  It is also known as “old man’s beard” and you can see why.

Meconopsis and white fringe tree

One morning, I took a wheelbarrow and some shears for a walk around the lake, to chop back any of the overgrown foliage which could block the path.  The lake had really come alive this month, with lily flowers emerging from beneath the huge, green, floating leaves.  Dragonflies and damselflies darted like turquoise gems above the water.  Contrasting beautifully with their turquoise wings, were the stunning pink flowers of the Deutzia x hybrida ‘Magicien’.  It seemed that around every bend was another beautiful specimen, in shades of dazzling pink.

We had two new garden volunteers join this month.  I really enjoy passing on some of the many things I have learnt about Furzey since I started volunteering.  For instance, we are fortunate to have a beautiful Willow Oak Tree (Quercus phellos), which is special because the tree was apparently germinated from seed brought back from the graveside of Martin Luther King!  It was also great to share the stunning, rich pink flower bracts of Cornus kousa ‘Miss Satomi’.  The heavenly array of star-like blooms was so eye catching.

Deutzia x hybrida Magicien and Cornus kousa

We have a tawny owl living in a nest box in the gardens.  I haven’t seen it yet, but I am keeping my eyes peeled.  It might be tricky to spot as they are strictly nocturnal.

Easier to find, are several wooden owls which have appeared this month.  You can find them peeking out of holes in trees around the gardens.  My favourite is a very wise looking character who can be found on the front of the tearooms.

I highly recommend a visit in July to see the cottage garden, which is absolutely bursting with colour.  It has a thatched cottage dating from 1560 in the background, with beds planted with flowers found in a traditional English country garden.  It’s a wonderful spot to sit with a drink and soak up the summer sunshine.

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