Summer in the Charterhouse gardens

Here’s the second in our series of garden posts from our Head Gardener Kate Robinson.

When I came for my interview last July I had a glimpse of what summer in the Charterhouse gardens might be like, but seeing the changes week on week from the start of spring to full summer has been wonderful.

Claire Davies, who designed the garden, has very cleverly made sure that there is successional interest all the way through the year. In May the Irises took centre stage with beautiful combinations of rust colours in one corner and pale purples in another, June has been all about the roses, foxgloves and the alliums with strong pinks and dark purples, and heading into July the dahlias are starting to flower with dark maroon reds and rich dark foliage, and then there’s the hydrangeas which are every shade of pink from pale lace caps to bright pom-poms.

If spring was about preparing the beds, mulching and weeding, the summer has been about taming the chaos, staking and deadheading. The combination of hot sunny days and heavy rain showers means that everything is growing like mad and unfortunately some things like the peony flowers got battered and broken by the downpours. Happily we were able to cut them and use them inside.
June is also the time to start cutting the Box and we started with the hedges and the topiary around the herb beds. We have been lucky so far that we have been able to keep on top of the Box blight and Box moth caterpillar with the help of a biological control and some specialist feed, but it is very labour intensive and when planning for next year I think some of the non-essential Box might have to be removed, and replaced with something else.

Since the spring I have been building up my team of garden volunteers who come on a Wednesday afternoon. They have been invaluable in helping to get the gardens ready for the tours and Open Garden evenings which have been a great success so far. They have also helped with bringing the outdoors in by helping to provide flowers from the gardens for the infirmary and for the volunteers’ summer party.


As I have seen the gardens grow and change over the past few months I am looking forward to the late summer and autumn when I can really start to make changes. I have plans for more roses and scented flowering shrubs in place of some of the darker more overgrown ones, and after my trips to the Chelsea Flower Show and Hampton Court Palace Flower Show I have been inspired by different colour combinations and new varieties of plants.

You can book our Open Garden evenings here

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