Summer provides a variety of moods, many visitors likening the different parts of the garden to a succession of oases, by turns serene and tranquil, uplifting and striking.
In the Sunken Garden, pink and red dahlias combine with petunias and a range of blue salvias, with support from dark-crimson Lobelia cardinalis and a host of self-sown Eryngium, a murmur of honey bees feeding on them.
The Rose Gardens combine old forms, at their peak towards the end of June, with repeat-flowering Bourbons, hybrid perpetuals and David Austin varieties continuing throughout the season: huge Onopordum thistles provide a focus, amid six-foot tall Cosmos, a cloud of drifting, hazy pinks and whites drowsing amongst feathery foliage.
After a mass of scented flowering shrubs, the White Garden is profuse with a succession of white and silver flowers and leaves, billowing around the yew topiary figures, leading on to the Physic Garden, which contains some hundreds of plants grouped into beds according to use for medicines, scenting, dyeing or poisons, all centred around the medieval well.
Elsewhere, the Parterre contains the Yew Maze, with its intriguing layout based on an isocahedron pattern of interlocking-triangular shapes. Also Queen Elizabeth I’s oak tree, which she used to sit under during her numerous visits.
The Kitchen Garden contains the orchards, the long catmint walk leading down to the kitchen garden laid out in striking patterns in the Potager style with flowers placed amongst a variety of vegetables, the cutting beds, penitential turf maze and, at the heart of the gardens, the main greenhouses, scene of burgeoning growth and much activity throughout the year, achieved by a dedicated team of gardeners and volunteers.