Homecoming Posted on August 10, 2012

Coming home after two weeks away is your best chance at seeing the place with fresh eyes.

Green grass in August was not such a shock because we’re seeing it everywhere; what I had not factored in was the deep shade in normally well-lit spots, produced by two seasons worth of growth in one. Thank heavens we don’t have to bag up our trimmings and take them to tips as Londoners do: the sound of secateurs (even saws) is echoing round the garden all day and the bonfire heaps demand a match every morning. And we can’t keep up with the veg.

The change of gear from mid to late summer was late in coming this year. The scent of phlox and buddleja, a honeyed spicey note, is the annual clue. Japanese anemones have spread inexorably. The white ones outside my study window are taller than I have ever seen them, reaching the transom of the leaded casements, a foot above my head, and casting an odd white gloom over my desk. Their whorls of vine-leaves are a foot apart, leaving room for a view down the park through their thin green stems. This morning there is mist over the duckpond, hiding the scarlet crocosmias that form a blazing rim to the brown water.


Hydrangeas, normally reticent in our climate, have loved the rain. Along the shady north wall of the woodshed H. ‘Grayswood’ started white but is already showing smudges of its unique individual red. On the similar wall of the tea house H. ‘Lanarth White’ is bulking up after years of hesitation. The tiny centres of its flowers, blue in more propitious hydrangea soils, are pale pink here.

Hugh’s Gardening Books


Trees was first published in 1973 as The International Book of Trees, two years after The World Atlas of Wine….

Hugh’s Wine Books

Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book

I wrote my first Pocket Wine Book in 1977, was quite surprised to be asked to revise it in 1978,…

Friends of Trad

John Grimshaw’s Garden Diary