JULY AT CLUNY

With the present long, very hot and dry spell plants normally in flower in the first part July are nearly over. If the heat and dryness continue we cannot predict what exactly will happen so please be aware that the garden is suffering in these conditions.  Remember to look out for RED squirrels anywhere in the garden although in the hottest part of the day they may be asleep! 

BULBS

One of the most prolific lilies at Cluny, having seeded itself throughout much of the garden is Lilium martagon, a European Turk’s-cap lily with flowers in shades of purple and white and flowers from mid-June to early July followed by the familiar L lancifolium (Tiger Lily). The very beautiful Lilium nepalense with funnel shaped greenish yellow and maroon flowers appears in mid to late July in the first bed on the lawn. Succeeding in out-growing them all, is the magnificent Cardiocrinum giganteum, the Giant Himalayan Lily, with its long thick stalks growing up to 3m high topped with pale green scented trumpet flowers. A few of last year’s seed heads can be seen still in position and resemble Venus Flytraps while the new seed pods look like figs. Another very tall woodland lily, the American Lilium superbum occurs in one or two spots of the garden. Lilium davidii an orange spotted large Turk’s-cap lily from western China also flowers in the lawn beds in late July.

TROPAEOLUM SPECIOSUM 

Related to nasturtium, the magnificent Tropaeolum speciosum or Chilean Flame Flower grows in many different places crawling through and over shrubs and trees. It has long spurred scarlet flowers and towards the end of the month and into August, its purple-blue berries will begin appearing. It grows from long white underground tubers preferring an acidic soil and like clematis species should be planted in the shade but allowed to grow into the sun.

LATE FLOWERING PRIMULAS

In early July the later flowering primulas are mainly growing in a very boggy area around Nos 26 & 27. The area is dominated by yellow or red P florindae (Himalayan cowslip) along with P sikkimensis and Primula poissonii interspersed with native self-seeded orchids. 

PERENNIALS & ANNUALS

An annual which catches everyone’s attention is a yellow Busy Lizzie very prolific especially at the far end of the lawn. It has amazing popping seed heads and flowers from mid-July to the first frosts. Ligularia (Golden Goundsel) is a tall yellow or orange daisy-like flower with large rounded leaves originating from central and eastern Asia. It grows throughout the garden but preferring a cool moist semi-shaded situation. Dotted around the top area of the garden and much loved by bees are the various very tall biennial yellow or white Verbascum species. Digitalis grandiflora is a lovely yellow medium sized perennial foxglove growing in the gravel and lawn beds. There are many self-seeded common foxgloves throughout the garden. Also in the gravel are: Gentiana lutea (Bitterwort), a tall, yellow flowered perennial herbaceous gentian from the Pyrenees and Alps; Eryngium sp; many self-seeded orchids; and Scabiosa columbaria or small scabious much loved by bumblebees. The red berries of Actaea rubra (Baneberry) begin to colour later in July, as do those of its white form. There are large clumps of Actaeas around Nos 17 & 18 and throughout. The berries are very toxic to humans but much loved by bullfinches and therefore may not remain for long! The yellow climbing Meconopsis chelidoniflia from Western China is present throughout. Look out for the spectacular seed heads of Arisaema (Cobra lilies) turning from green tightly packed to lovely red and eventually mushy berries. The blue nettle leaved campanula, an attractive introduced wildflower, can be seen in the shade around No 17.

TREES & SHRUBS

At the entrance gate is a fine example of the beautiful Japanese Golden Acer Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’ (the Golden Leaf Full Moon Japanese Maple). This is the first Acer to show autumn tinges. The hips on Rosa omeiensis are also beginning to colour up orange (just after No 2) and opposite there in the gravel (red and orange). Towards the middle of the month, the cherries on the beautiful red-barked Tibetan cherry trees Prunus serrula tibetica (especially at No 10), will begin to ripen and become a favourite food for the many blackbirds and wood pigeons in the garden. Early in July a number of different types of shrubs flower throughout the garden including the highly scented Philadelphus (mock orange), Deutzia, Roses and Hypericum another bumblebee favourite. Crawling over some of the shrubs especially in the top area of the garden, is Codonopsis, a trailing creeper from the Himalayas, with many, usually green beautiful but not noticeable, tubular flowers. Wasps get drunk on their nectar! In early July at No 19 look out for Cornus kousa, a small tree with white bracts which are actually adapted leaves used to protect the flowers. Recently uncovered slightly further on at No 20 is a second very noticeable specimen. Between 24 & 25 above and to the left of the seat is very large specimen of a tree Hydrangea growing close to a very convoluted Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia glptostroboides.

WILDLIFE 

If you are careful and quiet, you should see one of a number of Red Squirrels particularly if you visit when the garden first opens in the morning or later in the afternoon.  They feed on pine nuts, hazelnuts and peanuts in feeders at the first Sequioadendron (No 5) but can be seen within the garden as well. The garden is full of families of tits, siskins, chaffinches, bullfinches, blackbirds, song thrushes and warbler species but most have gone quiet as they are in moult. Look out for Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Jays. There are plenty toads and frogs hopefully helping to consume lots of slugs! Worker Bumblebees are very busy especially in the lawn area. There are still very few butterflies around despite the good weather. Please let us know if you see any. Chimney Sweeper moths can be seen on the good days on the wild flower bank as you approach the garden where there are also plenty of ants. 

JULY JOBS

Seed collecting has begun and will continue into November. (Please resist from stealing any fresh seed, thank you! We, the garden and the wildlife need it all.) Weeding carries on as ever and cleared areas are mulched with our own compost or leaf mould. Constant cutting back of shrubs and trees is necessary when we have rain!