Its been a strange summer…..


Its has not been a bad summer, nor has it been brilliant…it has been a little like the Curates Egg…. Good in Places!

The extremes from extreme heat to monsoon like rains did bring us a few surprises in the gardens, mostly good surprises. However there have been some disappointments.  The heavy rains did cause some damage with there ferocity.  The sun really stimulated lots of lush growth. The colours have been spectacular…but there have been some disappointing results.  Some of those plants we have as staples of the summer garden took off fast, growth was much thicker than usual, then sadly have ‘flowered themselves out’ long before they would normally vanish for another year….. petunias long gone

The Hydrangeas have been the stars, particularly pleasing this season.  During the heatwave they did for the most part survive that scorching heat. The large lush bushes then had to stand firm against the heavy rains, rains which were often accompanied by high winds.  Of all the colours the White varieties seem to have come thru the best of all…  but here we are nearly at September, and whilst some Hydrangea’s look stressed, most will be here till the first frosts…..

But till autumn arrives lets continue to enjoy the colour of summer and the first hints of seasonal change…. just thinking of all those berries and fruits to come..

24th August

(C) David Oakes 2019

It is Slow…but there is a change afoot


OK…I know it is too soon to be talking about Autumn….but it is on the way.  Just small signs but slowly it is creeping towards us.

Berries are full and ripe, the Rosebay Willow Herb so powerful a week ago is now setting seed, its foliage now living up to its other name of Fireweed. The woods are dark  with long shadows, in those shadows the first of the autumnal Fungi are appearing.  The much dreaded Japanese Knot Weed, much hated by conservationists, is doing a grand job providing nectar and pollen for bees and many other insects… flower heads are dropping and the vital; seeds are setting..


It has been a strange year so far with record high temperatures, lots of sunshine but also lots of rain.  As a result all flora seems to have been plentiful…be it a weed or a hybrid, they have all loved it.  I wonder if Autumn will be more plentiful than normal too

20th August

(C) David Oakes 2019




Hydrangea’s Everywhere….. The National Collection


We paid a visit to the National Collection here at Darley, Derby a few weeks ago….it was earlier than planned, we had heard that the collection had opened earlier this season due to the warm (and at times) damp weather. Indeed the many of the Hydrangea’s were looking large and blousy but as was to be expected many more had to rich full bloom.

Since that visit we have had a heatwave with record breaking high temperatures.  We have also had some sever rain storms, torrential downpours that have done much damage to many gardens.

I had promised to take you for a longer look. So it was with a little trepidation that we headed back to see just how well the Collection had survived…. as to be expected some blooms were showing signs of stress but for the most part as you will see there was plenty of colour and variety to satisfy.

 Nor is the collection complete…and extension has been planted in a lower part of the walled garden.


Rough and ready but in a few years it will blend seamlessly with the rest


2nd August

(C) David Oakes 2019

A Floral Reprise……. for July


Since last Autumn, through the Winter and Spring and now the Summer, the weather has certainly changed the predictability of the seasons.  This in turn has effect our flowers.  No matter if they grow in the hedgerows, fields or our gardens they have had to change with the new demands placed upon the natural world.   For long periods of time we have had high than the normal temperatures, in February and early March record highs for the month. Now in July we know we have had all time record high temperatures.   We have of course ‘enjoyed’ rain, at times it has been very welcome…. but it has also been exceptionally heavy and damaging.

Some of our plants flowered early, others much more prolific, some have suffered in either the heat or the wet, some like our Honeysuckle, normally an early flowerer,in our hedge, has this year had a ‘second coming’…… with flowers in greater abundance.

As July now comes to close, I thought we would reprise the wide variety (or at least some of the blooms) that we have enjoyed this month

In July we are always blessed with a wide variety of blooms…. but July is perhaps best famed for its Roses, this year they have certainly enjoyed the hot sun….


In one more day it will be August….I wonder what we have instore over the late Summer and into Autumn this year ?

30th July

(C) David Oakes 2019