A Garden Tour: The Priory In July

Summer has almost passed me by and, oddly, I haven’t posted any photos of The Priory since the spring.   So as a belated companion piece to my recent tour of The Old Forge, here’s a look at The Priory during July – if only two months late.

Beech Arch

We’ll start off in the car-park, again, and enter the gardens under the youngest beech arch.  I’ve trained this for about five years but the new length of hedge to the right still isn’t quite high enough to meet the arch (trained from the established hedge on the left).

Beech Arch (2)

This photo from June shows it better.   I’d hoped that the arch would be complete this year but we’re not quite there.   Perhaps next year.  Directly ahead, on the-path-to-nowhere, are the two Verbena bonariensis beds.

Verbena bonariensis (2)

I’ve mentioned these often enough and will only say, once more, how simple they are to grow and maintain.  I also bang on about them being a brilliant draw to butterflies … but not in 2016.   Has anyone else noticed far fewer butterflies this summer?

Verbena bonariensis (1)

Changes in the garden are afoot and the Verbena bonariensis block planting might be done away with – or at least moved elsewhere.  Update in due course.

Rock Border

To our right is the Rock Border which is primarily a spring border and mostly at rest in summer.

Rock border (3)

May 2016

In May, Forget-me-not, aquilegia, alliums, ferns, Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’ and others give it sparkle;

Rock border (2)

and here’s a sneaky peek at its June backside (from the path leading to the greenhouses).  The ‘Roseum’ is still in flower; as is a pink weigela with gorgeous Silene fimbriata below.

Tropical Border

To our left from the beech arch is the Tropical Border just getting under way in July.  I’ll do a post about that soon.


Beyond the Tropical Border and to our left is the back of the house where I’ve lined one wall with lavender;

Cacti and succulents

and beyond that, I hide an old drain cover with pots of succulents and cacti wheeled out from the greenhouse.

Cacti and succulents (2)

May 2016

I bring these out in April or May to bask in this hot, south-facing corner until September/October when they return under glass.  By then each pot will be home to a host of forget-me-not seedlings too … but weeding those out is a pleasant enough task on a rainy morning, in the greenhouse with the radio and a mug of tea.

Kidney beds (2)

Turning our back on the house, we’ll cross the east lawn to where, against one of Margaret’s fields, sit the Kidney Beds.

Kidney beds (3)

I’ve struggled with these borders over the years … if always with the best of intentions to “sort them out”.  They are the least visited borders in the gardens and readily slide down the pecking order in my weeding and general care schedule when pressed for time.  I did have big plans to tackle them last autumn but heavy rain and sloppy soil put paid to that.  Perhaps this year.

Kidney beds (1)

But despite their casual neglect they produce a lot of flower and colour – if the structure lets them down somewhat.  They’re definitely best viewed at a distance – let’s move on (before you notice the bindweed, dead-nettle, carex and bramble seedlings).

Duck nest box (2)

Turning away from the Kidney Beds, we’ll march smartly over to the east pond.  I planted a tiny corkscrew willow (Salix matsudana ‘Tortuosa’ ) on the island a couple of years ago (not so tiny now), built a duck nest-box and had big hopes for mallard ducklings.

Duck nest box

February 2016

But despite some initial interest, we had no ducklings (unless they were eaten before I saw them).  Perhaps next year.

Duck nest box (1)

Across the pond is the rose tunnel and long borders which I’ll show you in a moment; but first we’ll cross over to the meadow.

Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis'

In a shady corner of this one acre-site are four bamboos including this Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’.  It has thrived here, shot up to about fifteen feet and, with its companions,  doing what I hoped: obscuring a power-line utility pole.  Spectabilis has lovely gold and green striped culms with a curious kinked habit, which I reveal by stripping away their lower growth.  In autumn, I give all the bamboos a thick mulch of leaf mould or garden compost; and do so again in spring with a liberal dose of pelleted chicken manure.  Now that they’re established, I only water them during very dry spells (much to the disgust of a family of field mice who hurriedly flee as their holes fill with water.  Sorry mice).

Flower meadow (1)

Across the meadow now, along mown paths through long grass

Flower meadow (2)

with knapweed, vetches and meadowsweet in flower.  I must do a post about the meadow.  I’ve not mentioned it in a while and there have been some interesting, if slow, developments.

Gunnera manicata

Also on the meadow is a big disappointment.  I transplanted a Gunnera manicata in 2012 and hoped it would thrive here by a ditch.  It is healthy enough but of no great size despite my eternal hope that it’ll unfurl huge, silly sized leaves.  Perhaps next year. I’ve taken to feeding this too and forlornly water it too, if only occasionally.  I should do a post about it.

Veg beds

Leaving the meadow, we’ll cross a small foot-bridge and approach the vegetable beds, tucked behind the Long Borders.  2016 hasn’t been my best year for vegetables: the new potatoes were good; French climbing beans excellent; onions tick, gold star; garlic a thudding failure; sweetcorn pretty damn fine; courgettes fairly rubbish; radish and salad leaves so-so.

(When I say that my sweetcorn was “pretty damn fine”, I should add “right up to the moment when they weren’t”.  Deer discovered my plants and boy, do they love the sweetcorn.  They ate the lot, leaving me only two cobs – one of which they’d partially nibbled.   As delicious as this one and a half bounty was, it wasn’t a bumper crop).

Rose tunnel (2)

Beyond the vegetable garden is the rose tunnel.

Rose tunnel (1)

By July, its first glorious flush was waning.  The predominate rose is Rosa ‘Sander’s White’ but with a few other varieties too;


including the splendid Rosa moyesii ‘Geranium’.  Its flower season is a short-lived pleasure but, I think, big moyesii warrants the space – if you have it.

Rose tunnel (6)

I really should do a post about the rose tunnel.  I’ve found photos of when some of these Sander’s Whites were strimmed and mowed to ground level (by the previous gardeners) and it’s nice to see them back with a vengeance.

Rose tunnel (5)

Deer are a major annoyance here too and their repeated grazing on fresh stems has delayed the roses’ spread along the rails.  Perhaps next year?

Rose tunnel (4)

In a hot July, working in the tunnel is a welcome escape from sun-block and sun-hat. (Alchemilla mollis fills the planting holes).

Clematis Wisley

I grow about a dozen different clematis along the tunnel and in amongst the roses, including C. Wisley – always puts on a good show –

Clematis 'Empress Amy'

and I particularly like this new addition, Clematis ‘Empress Amy’.

Long borders (5)

Finally, we’ll spin about and face the Long Borders.


October 2009

I re-cut these beds in 2009 and dug out a thick mat of weeds.  I’ve gradually planted them up over the years whilst experimenting with what was salvageable from years of neglect.  (I really, really, really wanted to remove the yucca but was over-ruled).

Long borders (4)

I’m pleased I kept the persicaria:  long flowering and tough as my old boots.

Long borders (1)

Over the past two or three years I’ve added several tall grasses and a pair of acers, at either end, which had outgrown their pots.

Long borders (2)

I’m introducing height both at the front and rear of these narrow beds.  Not sure why but it seemed like a good idea.


I’ll sign off with this up to date shot of the Long Borders in September showing a reliable stalwart, Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm‘ (or if we’re being pedantic – Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii ‘Goldsturm’) assuming late-summer flowering duty.


A job it carries out rather well.






45 thoughts on “A Garden Tour: The Priory In July

  1. Good Evening David,

    Found my self reading through your blog this evening, a cheery distraction from this nasty turning nastier weather.

    I was wondering, did the changes you mention here ever come to anything in the end and did you have to do away with the Verbena B block planting ? I hope not! Unless the changes were for better ?

    Best Wishes,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Good evening to you too, Jack. There are still changes afoot (but not any I can publicise at the moment) though the verbena bed is as it was – for the time being. Looking pretty good too, I could say. I suppose I should do a post, really!

      Hope all’s good with you



      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m well thank you, David. Oh, now that is a tease for my curiosity! Changes for the best I Hope ? Pleased to hear the Verbena beds are still in place, I admit to borrowing the block planting idea at the allotment (on a smaller scale), so simple, so effective, I love VB. I hope you’ve enjoyed your self imposed blogging break, I won’t lie though , I have missed your tales from the Priory, no pressure though, you’ve an extensive back-catalogue to fall back on – in an Emergency 😆

        Liked by 1 person

        • I was reading a (long) WP doc about blogging and it recommended re-blogging old posts. It’s not something I’ve thought of doing before but, like you say, there’s quite a back-catalogue!

          I have sort-of enjoyed not blogging but I’m pretty anxious to get back into it. If you could send me a big wodge of spare time that would be marvellous. Cheers, D

          Liked by 1 person

          • Could be interesting David, I imagine there’s a whole new Audience now from when a lot of them were originally written. Don’t work too hard! Hope you’re due a holiday soon? Jack.


              • Cheers David, Glad somebody does 😊 means a lot to know it’s you, seen as though it was you who got me into this in the first place. As you’ve previously said to me, it’s very time consuming, and like you I think I’ve just been too busy recently. Strangely, I’ve found that blog Post ideas came to me more naturally in the winter and spring, yet now, in the midst of all go, it is a bit of a struggle. Have you ever struggled with Writers block, if that’s what I think this is definition of? It’s almost like there’s too much to choose from. Having said that I do have some ideas, when indeed , someone does share some spare time around. I’m happy reading other blogs for the time being (much prefer it in fact – but I do enjoy writing). I just wish more working gardeners, like your self, would take up blogging – as there really isn’t that many ( unless I’m looking in the wrong place.) and for some reason I’m naturally more interested in the working gardener than I am the Amateur gardener – which is perhaps a reason I can lack the energy required for blogging about being an amateur gardener from time to time! Oh dear did I go and ramble? Apologies! Jack.

                Liked by 1 person

                    • Hi Jack, Liverpool done (it was really impressive and I liked it very much – which as it is somewhere I’ve never particularly wanted to go, was a surprise).

                      I suffer from writer’s block all the time and think it perfectly natural and very common too. I also find that having written my blog for a such a loooong time now, I struggle to come up with fresh ideas whilst having a reluctance to re-visit old themes and subjects. As we’ve said above, I really ought to polish up and re-post some of my older stuff if only to keep my hand in and the blog alive. I’m hoping to reboot the Anxious Gardener soon but I do seem to have lost my way a little – hopefully not for good. I’ve found that several other long-term bloggers are in the same place as me and seem to be faltering or have stopped completely. I guess it is understandable that non-professional writers struggle to keep their enthusiasm alive.

                      I hope you continue to write and post and that you continue to enjoy it. You say, and have said, some really nice things to me about my blogs and I do appreciate that very much. Those, and similar comments from others, are more likely to get me back into blogging than anything else, I think. So thanks again.

                      I’d advise you to simply write, Jack. Just write. It’s what I used to do, and hope I can again. And don’t worry too much about what you’re writing either or spend too much time thinking about it. And that is advice which I wish I could take on board myself.

                      I’ve spent the day mowing with more of the same tomorrow. I can barely keep my eyes open so will stop there. Not sure I’ve helped much nor answered many of your points. Quickly re-reading this comment, I realise also that it’s almost entirely about me too! Tsk.

                      Best, D


                    • Pleased you Enjoyed Liverpool, David, never been myself.

                      Thank You for getting back and for the advice , and I’m sorry you think you might be losing your energy in blogging, David. Hopefully this IS just a case of writers block.

                      I’ve heard a lot of people saying they struggle with writing the same thing year on year – I don’t get this – surely it’s a given ? perhaps I’ll understand in a few years time ? I for one enjoy reading how the Tropical garden is evolving / what happened this year when you cut the wildflower meadow etc. Every single post is unique. I’m of course in no place to give advice as a writer but I think what I’m saying here will be reflected across your readership.

                      I hope you do manage to follow your own advice and just write – them ‘off the cuff’ posts I’m particularly fond of, and more than anything act as a record for generations to come who might want to know about the land you tended – There are so many places I wish I knew more about but there’s nothing on them: I’m trying to find out more about the history of the place where my Dad currently works as Head (only) Gardener back when it was still a stately home ( you may have seen me posting photos of the derelict greenhouses on Instagram: https://instagram.com/p/BU7MtZNlZDj/ ) but it seems there is next to no records about what the gardeners actually did here. If only there was more Bloggers in the early 20th Century – I bet you have the same problem with the Priory, which I understand to be a much older garden? Not every Garden / property is lucky enough to have it’s history preserved by the National Trust.

                      New on the Anxious Gardener: ‘A day of Mowing.’

                      Definitely has a ring to it.

                      Best Wishes,


                      Liked by 1 person

  2. I always like the verbena bonariensis but I rarely see any insects on them, just the occasional bumblebee. Perhaps it’s because at least in summer there are plenty of other flowers about.
    Quite a few red admirals about at present on the ivy

    Liked by 1 person

    • One of the things I like about the v.b, Philip, is a cloud of butterflies as I walk past it but, like I say, not this year. Good for photographing butterflies too as they’re so intent on feeding. D


  3. My brother “inherited” my sister-in-law’s garden when she died, and he’s been trying to maintain it while learning every single thing about gardening all in a hurry. He’s just discovered the idea of “maybe next year”—suddenly gardening looks like a hopeful thing. Brilliant, even.

    Enjoyed the post and photos (not to mention all the teasers) as always, Dave.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Dave,
    What a cracking garden. I’ve come to the conclusion that acers on the whole just don’t work in Dundee. The leaves come out too early and get scorched! I’ve tried them in several different places and in pots. Time too move on. Looking forward to the post about the tropical border. It looks so good against that building. Any success with echiums – the big ones?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Janet, I’m surprised re acers – I would have thought they’d love your conditions but yes, the ones I grow in pots scorch their leaves easily. I gave up on echiums, I’m afraid because the garden is in such a frost pocket … but I should’ve persevered in retrospect as the last couple of winters have been so very mild. Ho hum. D


  5. Glad to see the update, but I’m missing July a bit now as well. Amazing how all of a sudden some of those long range projects start to come together, it’s a great reminder to just go ahead and keep going ahead. Even the acorn will amount to something someday.
    Hope the gunnera takes off next year. That will be something as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Frank, I’ve had great hopes for the Gunnera for so long now that the expectation is a part of me. I’m really hoping that one year it will finally go ‘whoosh’ and blow my socks off. D


  6. Re lack of butterflies – yes. I’ve noticed a decided lack of Painted Ladies ie none this year and Blue(s) – fewer than last year, though the Red Admirals, Peacocks, Whites, Browns and Brimstones have been as prevalent as ever. Also the greenfly and thus ladybirds have been thin on the ground here this year. Lovely pics of a lovely garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You do great work ! If I had a mere 10% of your property and gardening skills, I would think I was in Heaven. Keep going because you inspire us Americans.

    Liked by 1 person

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