That beautiful season the Summer!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.

–   Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Antony Woodland Garden has Bloomed into Summer

Summer is the perfect time to explore Antony Woodland’s pink and blue hydrangea-filled glens and glades, which all lead down to the beautiful shores of the Lynher Estuary. This July, we are celebrating a bumper yield as the mild Cornish weather helps produce the garden’s biggest and most colourful crop to date.

Hydrangeas flower from mid-July to late autumn or sometimes even as late as Christmas. Their signature, vibrant blue or pink colours are determined by the acidic soil in the area.

While many gardens in Cornwall celebrate their peak colour season during spring with the beginning of Camellias and Rhododendrons, Antony’s Woodlands are also able to host a variety of seasonal plants which keeps the garden looking bright and varied throughout the year.

There is one man responsible for making the gardens look as wonderful as they do, and he’s pretty much a one-man band! Richard Squires gives us a rundown of the latest news from Cornwall’s hidden gem.

Hydrangea Pruning at Antony Woodland Garden.

The Hydrangeas at Antony are looking particularly good at the moment. Lots of flowers and good healthy growth. The recent rain has been of great benefit to them.

Hydrangea is a genus of 70–75 species of flowering plants native to Asia and the Americas. By far the greatest species diversity is in eastern Asia, notably China, Korea, and Japan. Their preferred habitat is moist woodland areas. In gardens, they tend to perform best when grown in light or dappled shade in rich soil with plenty of moisture.

Most are shrubs 1 to 3 metres tall, but some are small trees, and others are climbers which can reach up to 30 m by climbing up trees or over walls. Hydrangeas can be either deciduous or evergreen, though the widely cultivated temperate species are all deciduous.

There are many Hydrangeas in the Woodland Garden. Ideally, all Hydrangeas would be individually pruned, annually. All macrophylla varieties would be dead-headed in early spring with dead wood and a few older stems on each plant being removed. Also, paniculata varieties would be cut back to the 2nd pair of leaves below the spent flower heads and all dead wood removed.

However, the sheer number of Hydrangeas at Antony, over 800 plants, precludes annual pruning of all individual specimens. Therefore, we needed to come up with a method of managing the Hydrangeas with our limited resources that was achievable on a large scale.

Prior to my arrival, a large group of plants had been hard-pruned to the ground. This had removed all the dead wood and generated strong re-growth. Unfortunately, it also resulted in almost no flowering in the first year. We decided that the best thing to do would be to try and modify this pruning method.

We now prune selected groups of plants each year. With the macrophylla varieties we retain any shoots under 60cm that are likely to flower and cut the remaining live stems at varying heights between 30-60cm from the ground. The paniculata varieties are pruned fairly hard with smaller, outer, branches being cut back to strong shoots with several larger older stems being removed or significantly shortened. This pruning is also done with a view to shaping, and a certain extent limiting the size of the plants.
For both types, we also remove any dead wood in the process as well as weeds, tree seedlings etc. growing amongst the plants. We then apply mulch, as Hydrangeas can be very susceptible to drought.

The work is carried out in February and March by myself, with the assistance of 2 volunteers. We have now been doing this for 3 years and are starting to see some good results. In the first year after pruning flowering is slightly reduced but in subsequent years flowering has been excellent and the appearance of the plants has been much improved by the removal of dead wood.

We have several areas of Hydrangea planting throughout the garden and aim to prune one area each year in the hope that eventually all plants will be cut back roughly every 4-6 years as part of a cycle of pruning.

Richard Squires
Head Gardener
Antony Woodland Garden
July 2023

Find your own peace at Antony Woodland Garden this year. Treat yourself, a friend or relative to a Single or Family Season Ticket at one of Cornwalls’ most special gardens.  It will allow the giftee to enjoy all the beauty of the garden until 31st October 2023 and the Woodland Walk throughout the whole year.

If you purchase a Family Season Ticket it permits:

  • Unlimited access to the garden during opening hours
  • Ability to bring an additional adult and two children
  • Quarterly email updates telling you what is in season and any events or charity days hosted

The cost of a family season ticket to Antony Woodland Garden for 2023 is £40. And a single season ticket, just £25.
To purchase your season ticket online, please click here, email [email protected] or call 01752 815303.

The perfect gift to yourself or friends who love beautiful hidden secret gardens


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