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The Hum of Summer

The hum of summer has arrived, spreading through the garden with its many shapes and forms. Foxgloves protrude from the ground only to lean across paths bowing under the weight of their large tubular flowers. The pleasure grounds too come to life, once simple shrubs transform with blooms of white, yellow or red a celebration of the immense variety of plants brought here by our adventurous Victorian predecessors. For some, the most astonishing change is that of West Lawn, floods of wildflowers now thrive where simple meadow once lay; yellows, reds, purples, whites and pinks create a tapestry of colour, a pollinators delight. Above our heads an old friend has appeared, the swallow with its red breast and arrow-like shape, it dips and dives as it readies itself for this year’s chicks. Their arrival is that final signal that yes, summer is here.

As the sun beats down on our Productive Garden beds, the battle between gardener and weed comes to a crescendo. This duty does not stop at the weeds, as our chard, spinach and beetroot seedlings grow with zeal and drive, the team works to thin out the seedlings, removing new unnecessary growth to ensure the success of the many. These sweet trimmings are not wasted but used within the Heligan Kitchen salads. Our harvesters, with crate and barrow, busily collect lettuce, radish, potatoes, broad beans and rhubarb, to be walked 157 yards from soil to plate. Pumpkins and squashes now make their way to the earth, beginning their journey from seedling to harvest when their large bulbous bodies are showcased to celebrate what the land has given us. Beetroot, turnip and swede are now sown to the patch, and winter brassicas such as kale, brussel sprouts and cabbage now wait eagerly in the cold frames ready to replace, the soon to be lifted, potatoes. Finally, a touch of colour with Aster and Zinnia flowers as they take the place of the earlier sown wallflowers and Sweet Williams. The dipping pond too will see a splash of colour, a small, vibrant bed of old variety dahlias will be planted in the beds adjacent and Canna Lilies will add vibrancy through until autumn.

Leaving the Productive Garden walls, you see a lush garden in many shades of green and yellow. Trachycarpus palms erupt with bright yellow fruiting bodies, a sight few forget. Tree ferns unfurl their tightly wound fronds, slowly and with intent, their prehistoric canopies reminiscent of a time long lost. Our great deciduous trees have stretched out up above, a ceiling of green, this roof above your head keeps you cool and the air still. Giant echium tower over small trees, paths and hedges, their lilac blooms, summers tinsel, humming with the joy of our bees. As you follow the slopes of the Jungle, thick, impenetrable forests of Gunnera Manicata stand firm with parasol leaves above your head. Arum lilies, perfect and pure, break the mass of green with their chalk white blooms.

For some, the endless hedgerows, chaotic and full of life, is where the greatest joy resides. Campion and valerian, our champions in pink, erratically distend from the mass of goose weed, nettle and doc leaf. As you stand on its edges, you hear the faint rustle of life, possibly a mouse as it traverses its route or maybe a wren as it returns to the cheeping noises of expecting hungry mouths. Insects thrive here, hoverflies dart from point to point, observing you from every angle they can. Bees, solitary and bumble, randomly wander from bloom to bloom, then, with no warning take to the skies as they return to the hive. If you are lucky and you wait, one of the hedgerows most enigmatic residents may appear, the common lizard. In khaki and green he scrambles from warm dirt clearings, recharged and energized and ready to hunt.

The buzz of summer is here, why not come to have a look.

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