What's looking especially good in the Pinetum in June and July
<- Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera)
The superb spring continues into early summer. The late flowering Rhododendrons are starting to tail off, but the baton has been picked up by many others trying to outdo each other. Starting on the bank opposite the visitor centre, you can't fail to miss the deep purple red of the Smoke Bush (Cotinus ‘Grace). Just up behind them are a small group of Cornus kousa (Japanese Strawberry Tree) covered in white flowers (some pinky). Also look out for them in Autumn as they turn a fantastic rich crimson. If we are lucky they might fruit as well, producing strawberry-like fruit (hence the common name). These were only planted in 2006 - there are some slightly older specimens also covered in flower on the left-hand side of the big Leyland hedge.
Carrying on down Dallimore Valley on the bank to the right of the Leyland hedge (just by the turning towards Marshalls Lake) there are three Horse Chestnuts in flower Aesculus x dallimorei. These are the first plants I grafted (back in 2003). The original plant material came from a grafted tree in Kent prior to 1956, but it is the name that's of particular interest - it's named in honour of William Dallimore, the first curator of the Pinetum. He laid out the original collection in 1925. Dallimore was also the first arborist at Kew Gardens and has written some very important books on pruning, conifers and hollies (and had a valley named after him at Bedgebury!). There is also a recently cultivar of Ash named by Kew Fraxinus ‘William Dallimore - a selection with fantastic deep purple Autumn colour. We have a small example on the top of the bank opposite the visitor centre.
Carry on around Marshalls lake passing the last of the Rhododendrons in flower over the bridge. Around to the right along the edge of the stream are the Mountain Laurel Kalmia latifolia from eastern North America. Clusters of pink flowers are covering the plants at the moment. Before they are fully open they look like iced gems.
The native plants are doing equally well. The last of the bluebells have now gone and it is the turn of the orchids to take centre stage. Odd spikes of pink/white and purple can be seen in the longer grass areas around the site. These are the Common Spotted Orchid Dactylorhiza fuscsii, named for the spots on the leaves. If you take a close look at the spikes you can see the are made up of many tiny beautiful flowers. If you are really lucky you might spot a Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera. In and around the ponds the Yellow Iris Iris pseudacorus are also looking really good.