UK GARDENS ON CUSP OF AN ALMIGHTY EXPLOSION OF SUMMER COLOUR

UK gardens and green spaces are on the verge of a unique explosion of summer colour as the peak of two flowering seasons combine to create the most dramatic spectacle seen in years, says the UK’s gardening charity, but the best of it could be over in days.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) reports that this year’s weather has provided the optimum growing conditions* for summer flowering. The warm, wet winter followed by the sunniest May on record and then a bout of rain in June has produced an exceptional crop of summer blooms.

Stronger, bigger buds and more prolific flowering has created abundant displays of early blooms such as lilies, rhododendrons, irises, roses and hydrangeas, and mid-summer flowers such as verbena, rudbeckia, heleniums and geraniums are now coming into their own.

The apex of this floral extravaganza may happen this weekend and at the four RHS Gardens the show has already begun but the seasonal overlap could pass by quickly as early summer flowers are likely to start going over next week.

At RHS Garden Rosemoor, in Devon, Curator Jon Webster says, “Fiery displays of reds, oranges, yellows and purples on plants like red hot pokers, rudbeckia, dahlias and goldenrod are springing to life in the Hot Garden while whites, blues, pinks and silver foliage bring an oasis of calmness in the Cool Garden.” The largest rose gardens in the South West are also still brimming with colour and scent from over 2,000 roses.

RHS Partner Gardens are reporting colourful spreads including The Bishop’s Palace Gardens in Somerset which is also awash with daylilies including ‘Chicago Sunrise’, and pretty blue salvias – and their multi-coloured Bishop series dahlia collection is the best it’s ever been with Garden Manager James Cross saying: “Everything has come together to produce the best summer colour I have ever seen.”

Guy Barter, RHS Chief Horticulturalist, says: “Our work is done in the garden so happily all that’s left to do is enjoy the summer flowers. The unique blast of brilliant colour that’s about to hit will bring even greater enjoyment than normal but you’ll need to be quick to catch its full glory.”

All visitors to the gardens (RHS members and non-members) need to book online so that social distancing can be controlled and in accordance with Government guidelines for ‘track and trace’. Although there may be availability on arrival, the advice is to pre-book to avoid disappointment as some sessions get completely filled.

PHOTO: Dead-heading at Rosemoor to prolong flowering.

NEW DEVON AIR AMBULANCE HELICOPTER TOUCHES DOWN IN DEVON FOR FIRST TIME

Loud cheers went up around the Devon Air Ambulance airbase at Exeter airport earlier this month, as their new Airbus H145 helicopter flew down the runway and settled onto the helipad – it was the first time this new generation aircraft had landed in Devon.

The new helicopter arrived at Exeter as part of a training flight from the Airbus Helicopters UK facility in Oxfordshire, where the aircraft is currently based. DAA formally accepted the new H145 last month and since then its pilots have been undertaking extensive training on the new aircraft. The flight into Exeter forms part of a three-week training programme which includes classroom-based theory, ‘visual’ and ‘instrument’ flight training containing a mixture of proficiency and flight skills tests and a theory exam.

DAA Flight Operations Director Ian Payne said, “It’s fantastic to see our new H145 helicopter flying into Devon for the first time, it marks the culmination of several years of hard work and development to get the very best aircraft for the people of Devon.”

“Those with a keen eye will notice the new H145, registered G-DAAS, is slightly bigger than our current EC135 aircraft which means we have a larger internal space to treat and convey patients, we can carry more emergency medical equipment and it has a longer flight time between refuelling. The advanced technology and aviation systems that are included with this aircraft really make the H145 a complete package and will ensure we have the very best airborne capability to deliver our enhanced and critical care for many years to come.”

“Despite the impact of Coronavirus, the new aircraft was delivered on time by Airbus Helicopters UK and we’d like to extend our thanks to the whole team at Airbus for their support and attention to detail throughout the project lifecycle”.

Gary Clark, Head of Civil Business, Airbus Helicopters in the UK, said: “We greatly appreciate Devon Air Ambulance’s continuing confidence in our products, and we look forward to supporting them for many years to come. The H145 provides a substantial enhancement to air ambulance operations and we are confident that it will enable DAA to offer even higher standards of service in its vitally important field of work.”

This training flight is one of a number the pilots will carry out as they gain experience of the H145’s array of advanced aviation technology and systems that deliver handling, autopilot and navigational aid functions. Once the pilot training is completed in Oxford during August the new aircraft will be permanently based here in Devon, where more crew training will be carried out before the aircraft goes into service later in the year.

Ian Payne added: “As soon as the H145 is based here in Devon we will be rolling out training across the whole of the Patient Services team. Our paramedics and doctors will not only be learning about the aircraft’s flight management and safety systems, but they will also learn how and where their medical equipment is stored and accessed so that in an emergency the new patient treatment area quickly becomes second nature.

All of this crew training will need to be delivered whilst we remain operational from 7am to 2am, 19 hours a day, so we expect it’s going to be a very busy time as we build up to the point of introducing the new aircraft into service during the autumn.”

DAA Chief Executive Heléna Holt said: “We recognise the huge responsibility we owe to our supporters to ensure we get the best possible aircraft to meet the needs of our current and future HEMS operations in Devon. We are confident the new H145 is the right aircraft and will be a huge asset in helping us to bring urgent medical care to those who need it most.

Our thanks, as ever, to all the businesses, communities and individuals who support us. We look forward to the day that we can invite you all to come and see the new aircraft which has been made possible by your generous support.”