As you leave the Visitor Centre and turn left, look out for the stand of shrubby Verbena, Clerodendrum bungei with large heart-shaped leaves and wine-coloured fragrant flowers. This plant is a native of China, as is its exotic relative, Clerodendrum trichotomum var. fargesii which bears highly fragrant, white star-shaped flowers in late summer followed by outstanding metallic-blue berries in autumn.
The highly scented Incense Bush Ageratina ligustrina is flowering on the Chris Cross and by the Amphitheatre. This evergreen shrub from Mexico has aromatic leaves and scented large, flat heads of small white flowers in late summer and autumn, and is great for attracting bees and butterflies.
This is most definitely the time of year when the Hydrangeas take centre stage at Trebah. They are looking better than ever after the high rainfall in June and it’s hard to believe the majority were planted back in 1949. They are hand-pruned in early spring which helps to promote the abundance of flowers that will perpetuate long into autumn.
Less familiar species of Hydrangea include Hydrangea aspera with its velvety soft leaves. Bees collecting pollen from this plant accumulate a blue sac on each leg, instead of the usual yellow. Hydrangea quercifolia has panicles of creamy white flowers and large oak-like leaves which develop deep burnished red tints in autumn. Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanille Fraise’ is a very pretty plant that bears, as the translated name ‘Strawberry Vanilla’ suggests, large panicles of fluffy white flowers that turn pink as summer progresses.
By Mallard Bridge there are many interesting herbaceous plants, including Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’, Pontederia cordata (an aquatic plant with blue flower spikes above heart-shaped leaves), Lythrum virgatum (a Loosestrife with tall spikes of purple flowers) and Stipa gigantea (a gorgeous tall grass known as Golden Oats) to name but a few.