SOMETIMES in gardening, and maybe in life, the best things are unplanned.

That’s certainly true in the flag garden here at Arley Hall, which is putting on one of its finest displays this year.

One of the plants that has given it a real lift is the ageratum blue mink, but the truth is it should never have even been here.

It’s only there now because we couldn’t get hold of the ageratum that was growing in its place last year, but this has turned out to be fortuitous.

Blue mink grows taller and being less compact has meant it has stood up to the downpours much better.

It compliments the lavender that is flourishing in the flag garden and is attracting hundreds of insects to this secluded spot near the clock tower.

I often get asked what we do to encourage the wildlife here at Arley and the honest answer is ‘nothing’.

We just do what we do normally.

Our approach, along with the variety of plants we grow, attracts and sustains a wide range of bees, both bumble and honey, as well as countless other winged creatures – including lots of birds.

Together they provide a soundtrack to the gardeners’ summer and an ambience for the public as they mill around the gardens.

I’m writing this the night after one of the worst thunderstorms Arley has seen in recent memory, but the plants have stood up to it well.

You might be tempted to let Mother Nature do the watering for you at the moment, but don’t rely on her too heavily, especially when it comes to potted plants and anything recently planted.

Check your plants are sufficiently watered otherwise they could perish in the heat.

With thousands of visitors passing through our gates over summer we have to make sure everything is looking perfect and hopefully we are close.

We are in the peak season for arguably our star attraction – the herbaceous border.

Believed to be the first of its kind in the country, it has exploded with colour in recent weeks and is now a feast for the eyes.

We are busy deadheading in the border so that nothing detracts from the beauty on display and you might want to be doing the same in your gardens.

Don’t work too hard though.

Make sure that you don’t overheat with all the work and remember, it’s as important to keep yourself as well watered as the plants!


  •  Picking fruit and vegetables, particularly where there is the chance of a second crop
  •  Sowing wallflowers
  •  Deadheading in the borders
  •  Start ordering your bulbs as you plan for next year
  •  Keep on top of the weeding as conditions are helping them to thrive

Happy gardening