The Hydrangeas…… provide a garden of delight.


Tomorrow is August the 1st and here at one of the National Heritage Hydrangea Collection it will be an ‘Open Day’.   The Collection is open everyday during the season but tomorrow there will be guided walks and volunteers available to tell folk  about the collection, both for Hydrangea care in general and also historical background to this walled garden.

For the volunteers this year it will be one of mixed emotions.  Every years since the team started the restoration and establishment of the collection, they have spent hours  producing a spectacular display for visitors to enjoy.  This season they have had to work extra hard over the past few weeks trying their best to make the gardens look anything like what they would really like.  The winter and spring took its toll. Heavy rains,  a period of drought and a very late frost followed by high winds would have made life difficult in any year……  but add the CV19 factor, lockdown and  other restrictions and those dedicated volunteers were unable to take prompt and continual actions, to mitigate the problems.

So whilst the Collection may not be having one of its best years…it is still a very worthy display.  White blooms seem to have survived the best.  There are still many dead flower heads and even seed heads from last year, however hard the team worked they were never going to achieve several months work in just a few weeks. So full credit to all.


The Collection can be visited at Darley Park, on the banks of the River Derwent in Derby.  The National Heritage Collection is open till September.  An approach area is open  with  both Hydrangeas and Herbaceous borders all year ….. and its all free.  🙂

I should add that today has been blistering hot….35c this pm.  Certainly had people heading for the shade.  Every shadow  was occupied 🙂   Thunder on the way.


Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

31st July

(C) David Oakes 2020

The Hydrangea Season is Here Again


I guess we can say that summer is now well underway…the Hydrangea season is with us again.  The National Collection at Darley Abbey has just opened for the season…. many of the bushes have yet to reach full blossom, but for starters these are rather fine.

More to come in a week or so.

18th July

(C) David Oakes 2019



Derby City Councils Parks Department have been celebrating…and so they should, for after many years of neglect they have re-established the National Hydrangea Collection that has been located in Darley Abbey Park. They have maintained a collection for a number of years… but the larger part of the collection has been out of bounds.  But not anymore for the intention is to show off the full collection each year when it is at its colourful best….



Behind the high walls of the old kitchen garden a good deal of hard work has taken place, new paths, new turf and a great deal of tidying and replanting.  There are still areas where new plants have yet to fill the space but the signs are good that this National Collection will grow and thrive…..








Hydrangea’s offer a wide variety of colours and flower heads, some simple others just large balls of petals, as individual blooms or as a complete bush they present a spectacular display……




Indeed it is a collection for Derby to be proud of…..but in a few weeks the gate will be firmly shut until next year when no doubt  additional varieties of Hydrangea will have been added and those newly established plants will have grown and be making their colourful contribution to the display…till then the gate will be firmly locked……



It is tough times for local Councils, money is restricted, so credit where credit is due for having invested time and some money into this restoration project.  But we should also recognise that this would not have been possible without utilising the manpower of the ‘Community Pay Back Scheme’.  Offenders both young and old have repaid their community time commitment to working on this project…it is a credit to their efforts and that of their supervisor….the community has benefited. I also assume that as the quality of the workmanship is so high that those involved with the project have also benefited and can taking pride in what they have achieved and given back to the City…



Derby is a City that always makes much of its ‘Pride’.  It is where the first ever public park was established and from that first ‘public space’ many others have been created over the centuries.  Our municipal plantings in our public spaces, on road traffic islands and approached to the city have always been welcoming…a great advert for the city.  But this year these colourful displays are no more…bare batches of soil are the only indication as to where these floral displays once were….

H13 I suspect that without the input of the Community Pay Back Scheme the Hydrangea Collection would still be wanting.

The Council states that tough choices have to be made in tough times….but one has to wonder, they find many millions for match funding for restoration work, monies can be found for new developments.  But forgive me if I think that the decision making is a politically cynical budget cut.  Not that the opposing political party is any less cynical, their alternatives choices for withdrawing funding were equally as politically motivated in another direction.  Great shame… would seem that only grandiose schemes are worthy of this current Councils funding…..everyday Derby has to put up with a less colourful appearance.  Would it not be possible to utilise the labour from the Pay Back scheme to fill the floral gap elsewhere in the city or is that too political ?



© David Oakes 2013