Many areas of the garden are starting to fade during September with autumn colour developing as the month progresses. Splashes of colour are still provided in areas such as the Dahlia beds in the Maze Garden, Cottage Garden and Kitchen Garden. In addition, the area at the top of the Cottage Garden, which is designed and maintained each year by the two garden trainees, is full and flowering well.

Dahlias in bloom in the Kitchen and Cottage Gardens

The Kitchen Garden is still producing good crops and we will soon start harvesting plums, pears and apples. Potatoes are being lifted and stored, and we will soon start clearing areas as crops finish.

Passiflora quadrangularis and Epiphyllum oxipetalum, respectively

At the beginning of the month, the Display House will have blooms on the Passiflora quadrangularis (Passionflower), Victoria amazonica (Water-Lily), Epiphyllum oxipetalum (Night-flowering cactus), and the Calliandra 'Dixie Pink' (Powder Puff Tree). Meanwhile, the grapes in the Vinery are being picked for use by the family.

The gigantic waterlily (Victoria amazonica) in flower at Chatsworth: "On unbent leaf in fairy guise, Reflected in the water, Beloved, admired by hearts and eyes, Stands Annie, Paxton's daughter..."

Victoria amazonica, or Victoria regia as it was originally named, was once the subject of rivalry between Victorian gardeners in England. Always on the look-out for a spectacular new species with which to impress their peers, plant collectors, such as the Duke of Devonshire and the Duke of Northumberland, started a well-mannered competition to become the first to cultivate and bring to flower this enormous lily. In the end, the two aforementioned Dukes became the first to achieve this, Joseph Paxton (for the Duke of Devonshire) being the first in November 1849 by replicating the lily's warm swampy habitat (not easy in winter in England with only coal-fired boilers for heating), and a Mr Ivison the second (for the Duke of Northumberland) at Syon House. The Duke of Devonshire presented Queen Victoria with one of the first of these flowers, and named it in her honour. The lily, with ribbed undersurface and leaves veining "like transverse girders and supports", was Paxton's inspiration for both the Great Conservatory here at Chatsworth as well as the Crystal Palace erected for the Great Exhibition, 1851.

Lucy
Horticultural Technician

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