The Height of Summer
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The Height of Summer

25th July 2023

Well, believe it or not when I say “We are now in the height of summer”.

For those accustomed to the Scottish weather and its peculiar ways this is probably the most traditional summer I can remember (and having spent several years living in London I’ll take this weather over 35°C any day!). My only wish is that it didn’t entice the midges so much..

Regardless of the weather, the garden is moving into its peak. The longest day is now behind us and with the dreaded “oh the nights are fair drawing in” comments to come, the garden starts to fill up with what we call the "hot colours". These colours can be found in the perennial plants in the herbaceous border and tend to come from South Africa where they expect warmer temperatures, so hold themselves back a bit waiting for our soils to warm up. Red Hot Pokers (Kniphofia) and Montbretia (Crocosmia) are two perfect examples of this. Outside these colours, Agapanthus is another favourite of the late-summer border coming in striking colours of blue. These fantastic plants are pollinated by Sunbirds in their native home! I guess we just have to make do with the less exotic but equally loved bee.

Roses have been the star of the show for the last few months. On the Estate we have hundreds of rose variations, many going back to 1900s when Basil Montgomery planted them throughout the entire Estate, not just in the Rose Garden. For example the climbing roses around the perimeter walls are so varied in colour and form I’m only just getting round to identifying some of them, and there are some stunning varieties.

Elsewhere, the Kitchen Garden is in its height of production. In fact, we are currently suffering that same fate that befalls so many kitchen gardens - too many courgettes! What to do with them all? Well, luckily they are all being consumed, either by our kitchens or staff (we grow the common F1 hybrid “Defender”).

Our cucumbers and tomatoes are also producing at the same levels, but these seem to magically disappear as soon as they ripen…

A few years ago, I happened to try the small cherry tomato variety “Sungold”, so sweet and full of flavour, I have never bothered growing any other variety, it certainly goes down as one of my highlights of summer.

The sweet peas in the Kitchen Garden are continuing to flower and need to be picked almost daily at this point. This will be the fourth year that sweet peas have been planted in that spot and because of this it has led to a yellowing of the plants and they aren’t preforming as well as if they had gone in somewhere new. This will be something to take into consideration when we begin planning the Kitchen Garden for next year.


As July comes to a close, and I sit here contemplating putting the fire on, we still have to remind ourselves there is so much of summer to come. The Dahlias are only just beginning their show and what a show they can put on.

August will also see the start of our hedge cutting, which is quite a big task for us here, lasting several weeks. Whatever tasks August sees for you, I hope you get the chance to enjoy it, but more importantly I hope the sun puts in an appearance again!