Head Gardener Neil Miller shares his June garden highlights and where to go this month at Hever Castle & Gardens – a riot of colour.
The Rose Garden
With over 4,000 roses in the Italian Garden and Rose Garden, this formal area of the Gardens is a prime spot to see the June garden highlights. The scent is incredible as you enter from either the rotunda on Pergola Walk or from Blue Corner. The scene you view before you as you enter the Rose Garden, for me, rivals anything painted by the old masters as the roses stretch before you as far as the eye can see. The statuary and the columns lend themselves to the roses at this time of the year, as they spread and bloom in proliferation.
Among the June garden highlights are Rhapsody In Blue backed by the bright yellow of Absolutely Fabulous which is something to behold, as are the blooms of Buxom Beauty which grow to the size of my hand. The Rose Garden is also home to perfectly white Iceberg roses that border the garden. From the orange of Super Trouper, coral-pinks of Lucky and the beautiful scarlet-red Hever Rose bred by the late Colin Horner, every colour is involved.
There are far too many roses on the Estate to list by name, but we need to give honourable mention is to Rosa Ballerina in the Tudor garden, and also to the delicate little shrub rose called Canary Bird up by the long border near Two Sisters. Visitors also stop in their tracks when they see clouds of the David Austin bred Anne Boleyn Rose with its double doubles scented peach and pink by Half Moon Pond.
The June garden highlights continue in the Italian Garden.
Flaming June is a festival of colour with bedding competing for visitors attention. Nemesia, begonia semperflorens, salvias and pink diasicas proliferate in the garden-rooms planted along the 1/8th of a mile of the Pompeiian Wall. If you’re looking for inspiration for a smaller garden or window box then look out for the cascading terracotta-coloured mighty Million Bells which we’ve planted in our containers.
Like starlets on a red carpet, the pelargoniums do their annual best at this time of the year to attract visitors flashbulbs – don’t forget to check out their star quality among the annuals in the Italian Garden this month.
Down on Pergola Walk, as the shadows cast by the grottoes protect the plants from June’s sunbeams, the hostas and ferns are thriving and are among the June garden highlights. The attractive foliage on these plants provide a great talking point for visitors who often wonder how we keep the snails from finding our hostas! And while the leaves are scrummy, the flower spikes of the hostas can stop you in your tracks. In white or the palest lilac these flower spikes often have a wonderful scent.
Our collection of ferns are beginning to unfurl their fronds as the air warms even further this month. These beautiful plants, who love the shade of Pergola Walk, have a pre-historic quality too but unlike the gunnera over on Two Sisters (more of which later), there’s a delicate softness and unique frilliness to the fronds of the ferns as they uncurl and stretch in the shade.
Over in The Blue Corner, perennial geraniums ‘Johnson’s Blue’ and ‘Rozanne’ are in full bloom in June. I particularly enjoy seeing Johnson’s Blue as it gently spreads through Blue Corner – this cranesbill geranium is great in cottage gardens and borders and used for under planting of roses. The bees really love this repeat flowering lilac-blue flowers.
The Long Border
As you climb up the steps from Blue Corner and round the bend you’ll see, to your right, the long border – you may even hear it before you see it because this floriferous part of the garden is a haven for bees and buzzing pollinators like hover flies and butterflies in June.
Polemonium, or ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, is one to look our for this month too with its delicate slender leaves arranged by Mother Nature on the stems to look like the rungs of a ladder. This plant, from the phlox family, has delicate purple bell-shaped flowers, with protruding stamens loaded with pollen in June, which literally call to the bees. Hummingbirds also like to pollinate this flower.
Over on Two Sisters we have been busy planting new red, pink and white water lilies in the pond which will flower soon. Our collection of impressive pre-historic looking gunnera, that hug the water here, continue to grow their gigantic umbrella-shaped leaves throughout June. Gunnera manicata, has enormous leaves (among the biggest of any plant we can grow in the UK) that can reach 2m wide. Gunnera enjoy a very moist and humus-rich soul, so this spot by the water at Two Sisters is perfect for them.
Beside Festival Theatre
If you’ve come to Hever in Bloom in June then please make your way to the newly planted nostalgia rose bed beside Festival Theatre. Allow yourself to be wowed by these beautiful large headed specimens including Pink Martini by Rumwood Nurseries of Maidstone. Then stop awhile in our shrub rose border inspired by American poet Emily Dickinson’s New England garden. Emily was known for wafting around her rose garden in her nightgown, enjoying the early morning or late morning sunshine. I can see why she did this, although I prefer to do it in my day clothes!!