JULY AT CLUNY

During July many of the lilies are at their peak of flowering as is the scarlet creeper Tropaeolum speciosum. Throughout the garden there are many scents both good and bad! Remember to look out for RED squirrels anywhere in the garden. PLEASE be aware that the vast majority of berries in the garden are highly poisonous as well as many of the flowers.

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. 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 is being established in various parts 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 and although some people successfully grow it, many try time and time again without success! It requires an acidic soil.

CANDELABRA PRIMULAS
These are bog loving primulas with whorls of flowers arranged in tiers. The main species still in flower at the beginning of the month are purple Primula beesiana and orange P bulleyana. These are mainly growing in a very boggy area around Nos 26 & 27 along with other Himalayan species including yellow or red P florindae (Himalayan cowslip) and P sikkimensis interspersed with native self-seeded orchids.

PERENNIALS
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 mainly between Nos. 5 and 10. They do not like direct sun but prefer a cool moist shaded situation. Digitalis grandiflora is a lovely yellow medium sized perennial foxglove growing in the gravel and lawn beds. There are of course many self-seeded common foxgloves throughout the garden. Also in the gravel is Gentiana lutea (Bitterwort), a tall, yellow flowered perennial herbaceous gentian from the Pyrenees and Alps. 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. The berries are very toxic to humans but much loved by bullfinches!

TREES & SHRUBS
There is a good example on the far end of the house wall of an Actinidia kolomikta, a vigorous variegated climber from Asia related to the Chinese Gooseberry. There is a fine example of the beautiful Japanese Golden Acer Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’ the Golden Leaf Full Moon Japanese Maple at the gate. This is the first Acer to show autumn tinges in July! The hips on Rosa omeiensis are also beginning to colour up 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. There are a number of different types of shrubs flowering throughout the garden including the highly scented Philadelphus (mock orange), Deutzia, Roses, Hypericum and Cotoneasters. 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! Later in 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. At the bottom of the garden just before No 24 (look behind and up) on the LHS is a Snowbell Tree Styrax japonica now forming seed while slightly further on above the birch seat is the Snowdrop or Silverbell tree Halesia carolina in flower in early July. Beyond that on the RHS is a very large specimen of a tree Hydrangea growing close to a very convoluted Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia glptostroboides. Related to the Sequoias, it is another tree of great character!

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 late 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 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. We now have house sparrows, a great rarity here, and goldfinches are bringing their young to the feeders. There are plenty toads and frogs hopefully helping to consume lots of slugs! Bumblebees have had a good start to the year and should be seen on many of the flowering plants. Very few butterflies have been seen recently despite a good start earlier in the season. 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. We have had our first Stinkhorns of the year; they are certainly easier to smell than find!

JULY JOBS
We are busy potting on plants for next year’s sales. 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, as growth is fast and furious in July especially if there is a combination of warmth and rain.