Excitement builds as I contemplate returning to the garden. It’s over 100 days since my last visit. The garden will open on Monday 6 July. Joanna reports that she has been planting out in the Upper Pool Garden. The bedding out is more or less completed although they were a little short of plants on account of having to cancel some of the plug orders when Lockdown commenced. They have been doing their best as regards the weeds, but are missing the volunteers. It’s mutual – the volunteers are missing Crathes. On a practical note, there will be no Crathes buildings open, not even toilets; there will be one way signage in much of the garden to facilitate social distancing; assistance dogs only and no bikes in the garden; entrance to the garden will be by donation – please give generously if you can because the garden needs your support. The garden will be open daily from 10.30am to 4pm.
I have a correction to make to my last post. I had assumed that James and Andy had not had time to re-treat the Croquet Lawn, but they managed to fit it in and not only did they hollow core the lawn, but they spread 200 bags (5 tonnes) of top dressing!
We have had the much needed rain. I hope the heavy hail stones that hit Torphins this week passed Crathes by. The hail stones were so large and fierce they shredded some of my plants and the large leaves of my daughter’s dameras are studded with holes. I fear for the bananas leaves.
Somehow I have got through June without referring to the Deutzias, but I cannot let July pass by without mention of Deutzia monbeigii – now there’s a good name to follow up! It’s a showy shrub usually covered in trailing branches overloaded with white flowers and often drawing attention at the top end of the White Border, near to the garden gate.
Johan van der Deutz (1743-1788) was apparently an alderman and lawyer from Amsterdam who sponsored some of the plant expeditions of Carl Peter Thunberg – a pupil of Linnaeus – to Capetown and Japan. Thunberg always reminds me of Francis Masson, the first plant hunter to be sent out from Kew, who served his apprenticeship under the Burnetts of Kemnay – not far up the road from Crathes. Thunberg and Masson went plant hunting together in 1773 in South Africa. It was Thunberg who named the genus ‘Deutzia’ after his patron.
Jean Théodore Monbeig (1875-1914) was a French missionary who collected plants in the Tibetan part of Yunnan and, like so many other plant collectors in that region, was murdered during the general unrest in the area. Deutzia monbeigii was introduced to Britain from Yunnan by George Forrest (who narrowly escaped being murdered) and named by William Wright Smith of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
The Lemoine nursery in Nancy, France, famous for its lilac hybrids (Victor Lemoine 1823-1911), produced some of the finest hybrid deutzias, some of which we have at Crathes: Deutzia x hybrida ‘Mont Rose’ and Deutzia x hybrida ‘Joconde’ on the Berberis Border are similar, both having the same parents; D. x magnifica in the Fountain Garden lives up to its name.
The Deutzia genus is similar and related to the Philadelphus genus and there are plenty examples of both groups at Crathes. The simple way to tell them apart is by the number of petals or sepals: deutzia have five (or multiples of) petals whilst philadelphus have only four.
Just now the wild dog roses are enhancing our country lanes. I am a rose fan and have a few in my garden, including a wild white one that just appeared – possibly a briar from a root stock. It seems strange that there were no roses in the garden when we came. A favourite is Rosa mundi which I had long grown in my previous garden. It does well at Crathes in the Doocot area. More recently the rose Celeste (sometimes called Celestial) which grows on the Blue and Pink Border at Crathes has taken my fancy. We saw it once on a very wet gardeners’ outing to the Pitmuies garden, between Arbroath and Forfar, where it was given space to spread and fall. I recently bought one for my own garden and it is now established and giving great pleasure, though just now sodden with rain like the one at Pitmuies.
The shrubs Sir James planted on the Yew Borders that show their crowns in the Upper Pool Garden will be beginning their summer show. Pterostyrax hispida, from China, should be in flower just now and will shortly be followed by the hoherias, from New Zealand, and, in August, the eucryphias from Chile. Whilst these shrubs all have white flowers, the Upper Pool Garden used to be called the Colour Garden on account of the vibrant planting. Lady Burnett chose a colour scheme of oranges, reds, yellows and purples – unusual in the 1930s and still looking remarkable in the twenty-first century. Because the Upper Pool Garden is usually at its best in late summer we will be able to enjoy it to the full this year.
Come and visit if you are able and see for yourself. Keep Safe.