With the hottest June on record and zero precipitation here at Exbury, a lot of the plants that we are famous for are really beginning to suffer. However, some plants are enjoying being baked in the relentless sunshine. For the sake of this blog we can divide them into two main groups. Firstly, the herbaceous perennials, which come from the sunny grasslands that have a continental climate and are used to long, hot, dry summers. And secondly, plants that come from Mediterranean climate zones such as California, the Cape province of South Africa, Australasia and from the Mediterranean basin itself. These plants are found throughout the garden at Exbury but do particularly well in the sunny areas such as the Herbaceous borders, the Rock Garden , the Sundial Garden and the Old Tennis Court Garden.
Olive (Olea europea)
This lovely old specimen of the Olive, (Olea europea),has been waiting in a pot for a home at Exbury for several years now, and with the re-vamp of the planting in the Old Tennis Court garden we thought it would prove to be the perfect home for it. After just a 10 minute job to make a hole in the paving slabs the tree was planted directly into the rubble from the old tennis court which it will appreciate as the free draining nature of the substrate will replicate a rocky Mediterranean grove. Although this specimen is several hundred years old this is a mere baby compared to some of the oldest trees found in the Middle East that are estimated to be up to 3000 years old. We are unlikely to have olives any time soon as several trees are required to be able to pollinate each other. Although there are many different cultivars of olives the difference between green and black olives is dependent on the amount of time they have been left to ripen on the tree.
Rock rose (Cistus)
Cistus 'Alan Fradd', one of the Rock Roses and can be found growing around the Gardens, notably in the Rock Garden. Although the individual flowers are short lived they are particularly floriferous and will continue to produce many new flowers throughout the summer.
Lemon bottlebrush (Callistemon pallidus)
The Callistemons are a fantastic genus of Australasian shrubs in the Myrtle family, (the same as Eucalyptus), the long distinctive flowers have profusions of prominent stamens in a cylindrical inflorescens hence the common name of 'the Bottlebrush plant'. These are some of the finest summer flowering Australasian plants and although their leggy habit can be annoying the rest of the year they more than make up for it in the summer months. They also have attractive seed heads that in their native habitat require forest fire to ripen them.
Rosemary grevillia (Grevillea rosmarinifolia)
The Protea family is one of the most beautiful and diverse of the Southern Hemisphere. One of their characteristics is their showy, extended styles. This spiky little shrub, (Gravillia roemarifolia 'Canbera Gem'), has aromatic foliage and attractive clusters of waxy bright pink flowers which are produced throughout June and July. Unlike most other Proteas this lovely little plant is relatively hardy, (throughout southern England), and is more tolerant of a wider range of soil types making it a ideal choice for a sunny spot in everyone's garden.
The other group of plants that are thriving in the summer heat are the sun loving perennials. These are mainly found in the Herbaceous borders up towards the House, Sundial Garden and the Old Tennis Court Garden, where over the last few years Linda and the volunteers team have done a fantastic job of improving the summer offer of these plants for our summer visitors. Here is a small selection of some of our favourites that will be looking great over the summer months:
African daisy (Osteospermum)
African daisy (Osteospermum)