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June 2020 Garden Blog

June in the Victorian Walled Garden here in Kylemore Abbey is always a very busy time for us gardeners. All summer bedding and vegetable seedlings are planted out and growing strong, especially during these very humid conditions we experience at the moment.  The same counts for the weeds of cause. A constant hoeing in between the plants is necessary to stay on top of them. We also mulched permanent planting areas like our shrub border or along the soft fruits. The mulching will keep down the weeds and retains the moist contest of the soil which is very important during prolonged dry spells.  Beneficial fungi will develop which again will speed up the decomposition of the mulch and will therefor improve the soil fertility.  We are using mainly shredded wood from fallen trees here on the estate and our own produced compost. A layer of fresh seaweed is spread between the vegetable crops to feed and mulch again.

The flower garden is slowly coming into bloom. Lobelias, Alyssums, Nasturtiums and Snapdragons are only few of the annual plants we are showcasing here. These plants are planted into specific Victorian patterns within the flower beds. All plants were propagated in our restored glasshouse on site earlier on, between February and April.

Pic1  Summer bedding like Senecio (Dusty Miller) and Tropaeolum (Nasturtium) in the  Formal Flower Garden with the Vinery in the back ground

 

Pic2 Dianthus (Sweet William) and Gladiolus in the Ribbon Beds along the brick walls with main gate in the background

 

Pic3 A selection of heritage plants labelled in terracotta pots on steps to former conservatory

 

Pic4 Gladiolus ‘The Bride’ and Canna with the Diamond Hill in the background

 

The Herbaceous Border is nearly in its main flowering season. The list of plants in the border seems sheer endless. All types of lilies like Lilium martagon, Lilium henryi or Lilium pardalinum are growing within the border and are on its best at the moment.  The oriental poppies like Papaver orientale ‘Beauty of Livermere’ had huge flowerheads at the end of May. Unfortunately, they never last very long, especially after heavy rain and wind. All these plant varieties are heritage plants, introduced before 1901. A brochure with all herbaceous plants is getting updated once a year. A lot of replanting, dividing, and taking out of old perennials is necessary to keep the border in shape. Every plant has its own specific code within the Herbaceous Border so we can keep up the records and all changes. This brochure is also available for downloading on our web page under the Victorian Walled Garden.  Visitors can then identify specific plants when following this leaflet.

 

Pic5 Lilium pardalinum – Leopard lily in the Herbaceous Border; originally coming from California

 

Pic6 Papaver orientale ‘Beauty if Livermere’ – Oriental Poppy with  huge flower heads

 

Pic7 Alstroemeria aurea – Peruvian Lily growing in our Cutflower section; ‘aurea’ means golden; originated in South America;

 

Broad beans, mangetouts and peas will be ready for harvesting within the next couple of weeks. Lettuces, spring onions and spring cabbages were already taken out in parts. A succession sowing of lettuces will keep us going until the end of the season.

Pic8 Pea ‘Blauwschokker’, a very attractive purple podded heritage variety; suitable to eat as Mangetout or Pea;  bred by Capuchin monks in the Netherlands and Northern Germany as a past time few hundred years ago….

 

Pic9 Lettuce ‘Continuity’ and Artichokes

 

Pic10 Calendula officinalis as companion planting in one of the Brassica plot

 

Pic10 Potato ‘British Queens’ looking good

 

Pic11 Our grapes ‘Black Hamburgh’ are starting to ripe slowly in the restored Vinery; it will take another good few weeks before they turn dark blue

 

The Vinery is one of the two restored glasshouses and houses mainly tender plants, grapes, an indoor peach tree and a huge climbing pelargonium. It is in full bloom at the moment and covers half the back wall in the Vinery. The hot and sunny condition in the building is ideal for its thriving.

Pic12 Climbing Pelargonium and wall trained peach tree to the right

 

Another stunning and very easy to grow plant, suitable for a glasshouse or conservatory wall is the Passion Flower (Passiflora caerulea). Ours just started to bloom and it must be one of my favourite flowers to take pictures off. It has similarities with a sea anemone I think!

Pic13 The flower of our Passion Flower

 

One of the quieter spots in the Walled Garden is situated in the Fernery. Away from the main walks, this is a lovely tranquil area to relax beside the lush green of the ferns and the sound of running water from the stream.

Pic14  A private spot in the Fernery

 

Kylemore Abbey & Garden is re-opening on the 3rd of July and we are very exited to welcome visitors once again. With plenty of space in our 6 acre Walled Garden, social distancing should not be any problem!

Below more garden tips for July!

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in July:

To Sow / Propagate:

~ Take cuttings of non-flowering shoots of Santolina, Dianthus, Pelargonium, Hydrangea or Fuchsia

~ Sow more Green Manures to cover plots

~ Succession sowing of Lettuces, Radishes, Spring Onions
~ Sow spring cabbages like ‘April’ or Curley Kales for over wintering

 

To plant:

~ Plant out potted plants into borders and water well in
~ Replace summer bedding if necessary
~ Plant out more catch crops like lettuces and spring onion

 

To harvest:
~ Soft fruits like Gooseberries or Red Currants

~ Mangetouts, Peas, Broad beans
~ First Potatoes
~ Lettuce, Spinach, Leaf beet
~ Herbs for drying or for fresh herbal teas like Sage or Mint

 

To maintain & prune & feed:

~ Feed annuals in pots or planters on a regular base
~ Cut down Comfrey and use as mulch and feed
~ Regularly dead heading of bedding plants like Calendula and herbaceous plants for continues flower display
~ Check vegetables and flowers for pest and diseases e.g. cabbage root fly, caterpillars, green flies, blight
~ Prune shrubs like Weigelia after flowering
~ Feed lawns and Box hedges

 

Garden Blog May 2020

Welcome back to the May edition of my monthly garden blog from behind the walls of the Victorian Walled Garden here in Kylemore Abbey & Garden.

Experiencing the driest  April ever, well at least in the last 20 years, with only 31.4 ml of rain, we were able to get a good head start on the summer planting of the flower and vegetable garden. It is essential to water the trays with seedlings before planting out and also to have the automatic sprinklers on during dry spells. If not watered regularly during these conditions, the newly planted, young plants like Lettuce will bold or annual bedding plants will set flowers too early in order to produce seeds. This symptom is due to an increased stress level in the plant in order for reproduction. Plants won’t last as long as under normal conditions.

Pic1 Record of rainfall for April 2020; recorded daily in the Walled Garden and send to Met Eireann

We are getting our water supply for the garden from a natural lake on top of the  Druchruach Mountain, which is bordering the Walled Garden to the North.

Built by Mitchell Henry in 1867, the original irrigation set up is still in place, only the cast iron pipes were replaced by modern ones within the last  30 years. The engineering back then was of top quality and very advanced for its time. Natural gravity feed was used wherever possible. Copper taps, attached to the original brick and limestone walls, show evidence from these times.

 

Pic2 Original copper tap on cast iron pipe attached to a brick wall in former Peach Glasshouse

 

Pic3 Another tap, attached to the Limestone wall in our Shrubborder

 

As mentioned before, we are right in the middle of planting our annual summer display. It seems endless; thousands of plug plants need to be planted in specific Victorian patterns. Before planting, all beds need to be cleared of the former spring bedding, bulbs dug up, the beds weeded, dug over or tilled, top dressed with our own produced compost and finally reshaped, also after specific designs. The planting out is actually the easiest and fastest part of this complex procedure.

Pic4 Bedding and Vegetable plants in waiting position for planting out

 

 

Pic5 Corner bed in the Parterre with new summer bedding in place; they should start to flower within the coming two to three weeks, all weather depending of course!

 

Our Herbaceous Border started to bloom within the past three weeks. Bistort (Persicaria bistorta ‘Superbum’), the perennial Cornflower (Centaurea montana) or Chinese meadow-rue (Thalictrum delavayi) are always one of the first ones to bloom in the border.

Pic6 The Herbaceous Border beginning May

 

Pic7 Perennial Cornflower (Centaurea montana) to the front

 

One of the nicest spots in the walled garden to get an idea about the scale and also the unique setting is in the top corner at the Herb Garden. Especially on a nice sunny day like during the recent weeks, it is a pure joy to take pictures of this place.

Pic8 Wide-angled picture of the Walled Garden with view over the Herb and Vegetable Garden and the Diamond Hill to the back, beginning May.

 

Our potatoes settled well and the new stalks needed mounding already. The first early variety ‘Epicure’ is probably one of the nicest early heritage varieties we grow and always gives a good reliable crop.

Pic9 Heritage ‘Epicure’ potatoes in our ridges, dating back to 1897

 

Shaded areas like in our woodland or the Fernery have something on offer at the moment too.

Rhododendron ‘Pink Pearl’ is always a showstopper in our woodland, which divides the flower garden from the vegetable garden.

This particular Rhododendron is again an old heritage variety, dating back to pre-1897. It has huge pink flower heads and is a very strong growing variety.

Pic10 Rhododendron ‘Pink Pearl’

 

 

Pic11 Candelabra Primroses ‘Millers Crimson’ (crimson), ‘Alba’ (white) and bulleyana (yellow-orange) in our Fernery

 

Tulips are always at its best when in full bloom. I think that a few varieties, like ‘Keizerskroon’, are also attractive when the flower heads fading or drying when kept indoor. This particular variety developed a lovely maroon shading from the original bright red and the relief on the petals makes it nearly look like a drawing by one of the old dutch masters from the 17th century.

Pic12 Faded flower heads of Tulip ‘Keizerskroon’, a Heritage variety dating back to 1680

 

I know spring is over but I had to upload this image of yet another old Tulip variety ‘Sansparaille’. The flower head broke off and when inspecting it more closely I could not resist to take a close up.

Pic13 Tulip ”Sansparaille’

 

Last but not least news from our garden cat Jenny. She recently got a nice hair cut and is enjoying her freedom of not having to deal with a mat of tangled fur. She is very observant at the moment, including watching for when is her best chance of sneaking into the glasshouse.

She also likes to check on the flower garden once a while to see if we are keeping up the standard!

Pic14 Jenny on the watch out!

 

I will be back with more news from the Victorian Walled Garden here in Kylemore Abbey in June, below are the usual garden tips.

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in May:

To Sow / Propagate:
~ Harden off later vegetables like pumpkins, marrows and beetroot
~ Sow Carrots and Parsnips end of the month
~ Take softwood and non-flowering cuttings of Fuchsia and Pelargonium
~ Continue sowing lettuce for succession planting (every 10 days)
~ Take softwood cuttings of shrubs

To plant:

~ Plant out French and Runner beans
~ Start to plant out summer bedding in final position and protect against slugs (coffee ground…)
~ Plant leek seedlings into plots
~ Plant Tagetes and Calendula as companion plants between your crops to attract beneficial insects

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Trim formal hedges of Buxus, Fuchsia or Escallonia and feed them
~ Watering of new crops and bedding is essential in dry periods
~ Stake taller perennials, broad beans and sweet peas well
~ Prune spring flowering shrubs like Weigelia or Forsythia after finishing flowering
~ Aerate and sand lawns if not done earlier

Garden Diary March & April 2020

Welcome back to our spring edition of our monthly garden blogs for the Victorian Walled Garden here in Kylemore Abbey & Garden.

Strange and uncertain times hit us here the same as everywhere else.

The closure of Kylemore Abbey & Garden to the public did not stop the spring flowers here in the Walled Garden to show their nicest display. Recent cold spells kept many flowers back but the sun in the last week really opened up most Tulips. We incorporated a lot of Muscari bulbs, commonly known as Grape Hyacinths, into our spring display for the first time and the effect together with Bellis, Tulips and Fritillarias is really nice. The blue long sturdy flower heads are perfect in between taller Tulips and Narcissus and create this mass planting effect the Victorians liked to create.

Pic1 Mix-planting of Muscaris, Bellis and Tulips in the Parterre with the Diamond Hill in the background

 

Pic2 Snakes Head Fritillarias and Muscaries

 

The dark orange Tulip ‘Prince of Austria’, dating back to 1860, also gives great contrast to Narcissus ‘Butter & Eggs’ and Fritillaria pallidiflora. Narcissus ‘Butter & Eggs’ is probably one of the oldest Daffodils still available, dating back to 1777. The name of this variety really describes the look of this very rich “buttery” yellow blossom.

Pic3 Tulip ‘Prince of Orange’, Narcissus ‘Butter & Eggs’ and Fritillaria pallidiflora in front of the glasshouses

 

Another great and long lasting plant we use every year in different varieties is  Wallflower. The one below is the best variety we can grow in our glasshouse from seed. It is Erysimum ‘Cloth of Gold’, a biannual which will flower for several weeks, even months and will come back next year if you want to leave it in the same spot. We will take ours out to make room for the coming summer display. The red and  yellow of the tall Tulip ‘Keizerskroon’ works very well with the Wallflowers.

Pic4 Wallflowers, Bellis and Tulips

 

One of the earliest Rhododendren flowering here within the garden Walls would be Rhododendron ‘Hodgsonii’. It is one of the most hardy, big leaved Rhododendren and the bell-like flower heads are just spectacular. This tall shrub was originally collected by J.D.Hooker at one of his expeditions from the Sikkim valley in the mid 19th century.

Pic5 Rhododendron ‘Hodgsonii’

 

Now is a crucial time in any garden; growing plants from seed the way we do it, is very time consuming but essential to keep a garden like ours in cultivation. Most seeds are bought in from other seed companies since we cant produce our own heritage seeds in a good enough quality. We save only few seeds every year like the one below. The seeds are quite big and look like sleeping beetles! These are the seeds of Ricinus communis gibsonii, the Castor Oil plant. We grow them most years as an ornamental plant used between bedding arrangements or as solitary plants in terracotta pots. They are also great in Borders and give a very interesting aspect with its red architectural leaves.

Pic6 Seeds of the Castor Oil plant

 

The vegetable garden needs great attention at this time of year, now is the time to sow and plant! Potatoes, Broad beans, Peas and Onions, Lettuces and Radishes, the list is sheer endless for the varieties which can be planted now. Kales and Cabbages are also due for planting and a good feed of seaweed will help to establish them. It is important to stay on top of the weeds, especially now before they develop into bigger ones. A quick shallow hoeing on a dry day will cut the roots of the weeds and then can be left on the beds to dry off. If this is done on a regular base it should be easy enough to stay on top of it.

Pic6 Kales and Cabbages waiting to be planted

 

The lower part of the 2.5 acre Kitchen Garden will be mainly turned into Green Manure plots for this year to cut down on work. You are also giving the soil a bit of a rest after growing crops for the last few years. Pest and diseases could be decimated this way, too.

 

It is time for home made Rhubarb crumbles again! Our Rhubarb seems to do always very well in the early season. The plants got a nice layer of seaweed during the winter months and the stalks look healthy and strong. It is great to involve kids in the preparation of Rhubarb cakes since it is an easy vegetable (yes it is not a fruit!) to prepare. The brave ones will even eat the young stalks raw.

Pic7 Fresh Rhubarb

 

Like every year we held our annual Tree planting week once again beginning March.

This year, the tree planting week also started our centenary planting of 100 native trees in commemoration of the arrival of the Benedictine Nuns to Kylemore 100 years.

School children from all local schools and the creche took part and planted mainly Sessile Oaks, Rowans and Birches in areas which were cleared of the invasive Rhododendron ponticum last year.

It is very rewarding to teach these children the importance of the native woodlands. Especially the small Creche kids were astonished by the sizes and ages of our specimen trees.

Pic8 Happy tree planting with the children from our local creche beginning March

 

I wish everybody happy gardening, enjoy nature as much as possible, especially in these times!

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in April

To Sow / Propagate:
~ Continue sowing potatoes
~ Sow pumkins, courgettes, tomatoes & cucumbers indoors
~ Start to harden off summer bedding plants like Calendula or Lobelia

To plant:
~ Plant out Kale, Cabbage, Lettuce, Peas & Mangetouts, Spinach
~ New perennials or ornamental grasses for borders

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Feed and treat box hedges for blight (Try seaweed and Garlic spray!)
~ Clean and prepare Hanging Baskets for May planting
~ Continue lawn care like aerating and sanding, feeding and weeding
~ Prune early spring flowering shrubs after finishing flowering

Garden Diary January & February 2020

A very ‘wintery’ welcome back to our monthly garden diary from the Victorian Walled Garden here in Kylemore Abbey.

I thought I could start the first diary for 2020 with a spring theme but the current cold spell and stormy weather leads to a different one.

The first heads of Crocuses, Daffodil’s, Muscaris (Grape Hyacinths) and Bellis are peeping out and are well tested at the moment.

The drop in temperature will result in a slower start of the spring flowers but should not damage them, hopefully!

Saying this, winter garden images can be very attractive and have its own charm.  Morning frost put a white fairy-like coating over plants and lawns.

 

Pic1 It is cold!

 

 

Pic2 Snow is not often seen here in Kylemore Garden

 

Pic3 A frosty morning in our double Herbaceous Border

 

 

Pic4 Frosted Calabrese

 

The Snowdrops and Hellebores are flowering and standing strong in our Fernery; I think the creams and whites are working very well with the dark greens of ferns and brighten up areas, especially in dull winter months.

Pic5 Snowdrops

 

Pic6 Hellebore and ferns in our Fernery

 

Even an unusual leaf taxonomy, like the one of the Ivy leaved Cyclamen, Cyclamen hederifolium, will give great interest at this time of year.

Pic7 Ivy leaved Cyclamen

 

There are still few crops in the Vegetable plots from last year and are used up bit by bit. The new season is starting very soon and the first heritage varieties of Vegetables are already sown in trays in our glasshouse.

Pic7 A selction of winter crops – Turnip, Curley Kale, Cerlery and Parsley

 

Winter time is always a time for us to improve areas of special interest within the garden walls.

This year marks an extra special year here in Kylemore Abbey & Garden. We are celebrating the centenary of the arrival of the Benedictine Nuns to Kylemore Abbey in 1920 and also the 20th anniversary of the garden restauration and re-opening in 2000.

One of the projects is the updating of our existing exhibition tool shed with information about the garden restoration. We also started to give one of the rooms in the Head Gardeners House a make over. Sr. Benedict, who used to run the farm in Kylemore and was greatly involved in  the running of the garden before the restoration began, sadly passed away in 2018. One of the rooms is now showing her  original kitchen dresser and many small artifacts of her daily life.

Pic8 Sr. Benedicts kitchen dresser with a picture of her

 

We are currently also checking and re-labeling all the fruit trees, including the wall fruits within the garden. This is a very time consuming but important work in a garden like this.

Pic9 New labels for the fruit trees

 

These are all the news for now. We are very exited that Nation Wide is coming to us. I will write a bit more about it in the next garden blog.

Until then, good gardening and a little smile from Gloria, our Kune Kune Lady.

Pic10 Gloria!

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden end February & March

To Sow / Propagate:

~ First sowing of green manures into prepared  plots in the kitchen garden when soil warm enough beginning March
~ Sow first early potatoes like ‘Epicure’ or ‘Duke of York’ as soon as soil is warming up in mid March
~ Harden off Vegetable seedlings like Radishes and Lettuces
~ Start sowing summer bedding plants and prick out when big enough
~ Grafting apple trees

To plant:
~ Plant Broad beans and stake well
~ Plant onions, shallots, garlic
~ Plant bare- rooted trees until mid April (Much cheaper than potted trees!)
~ Divide and transplant perennials in borders
~ Divide & replant chives (also great in borders and good for black flies on roses)

To maintain & prune & feed:

~ Finish pruning apple and pear trees
~ Service all garden machinery before first use
~ Last chance to prune Gooseberries, could be trained like cordons or fans along wires
~ Feed all fruit trees and bushes with potash
~ Feed herbaceous borders with soil improver like chicken pellets and own rotted compost
~ Feed Spring Cabbages with Seaweed powder

~ Look after your compost; turn, feed, water

Garden Diary December 2019

Welcome back to my last garden blog from the Victorian Walled Garden here in Kylemore Abbey for this year.

We are in full swing with the winter preparation of the garden.

The first frost appeared last night and it’s time to wrap up things like the outside water connections and taps for example. We are using bubble wrap which gives a good layer of insulation.

The roses in the different areas of the garden were pruned and got a good layer of rotted manure and our own compost around the base.

The leftover seeds are counted, weighed and recorded in specific lists. This information is important for the preparation of the new seed order beginning in 2020. This task is one of the main annual jobs for every Head Gardener, and also one of the most important ones. There is a lot of preparation going on before the seed orders are finished. The whole garden year needs to be planned, the requirement of seeds and plants for each section in the garden has to be in place by then. We are usually sowing over 50 000 seeds between the Flower Garden and Vegetable Garden so it is essential to get this part right.

As mentioned in my previous blog we are harvesting a few of our own seeds where we know that the quality is good. Beans are one of them and since these varieties are all old Heritage varieties we can assure that we are getting the same ones in the coming year.

The French Beans are well dried now and are ready for storage in a cool dry place.

Pic1 Dried French Beans

 

Dusk and dawn can be spectacular around this time of year and are great picture opportunities for pictures. When I closed the Head Gardeners House a few evenings ago I captured the image below which shows the side of the Bothy with the garden wall in the background and the surrounding mountain range. It highlights clearly the elevated side of the Head Gardeners House from where I took the picture.

Pic2 Approaching dust in the garden

 

Wintertime is digging time in our garden.

One of the important areas we tackled this season is the drainage in the flower garden. Recent wet conditions and compaction of the soil resulted in the suffering of our annual bedding plants.

We dug up 3 feet of soil and put special drainage stone, fleece and new topsoil into the beds. It was very exciting when we found original open drains from 150 years ago, built up from red brick.  It seems that they are still fully operating which shows excellent craftsmanship from Victorian times once again.

Pic3 Getting the new drains ready in the formal flower garden

 

Wintertime is also a good time to power-wash hard surfaces and to clean the glasshouses from inside out. This is a very challenging job and requires a bit of patience. A good power-wash from outside can get rid of the build-up of green slush, especially in difficult areas where the glass meets timber.

Pic4 The propagation glasshouse and cold frames after power-washing the outside surfaces.

 

We also started to clean along the outside of the north wall which is situated right against the mountainside.

Rhododendron and tree seedlings of Ash, Hazel and Sycamore are growing quite substantial once again and closing into the brick wall.

This job needs to be repeated every few years to stay on top of it. It is a vital maintenance job in a place like ours.

We also started to clear Rhododendron in another area on the grounds near the Gothic Church. The former boathouse was choked by the invasive Rhododendron ponticum.

Once the area is cleared we can plant native trees again.

Pic5 The outside of the north wall of the Walled Garden

 

The Christmas decoration of the buildings within the garden like the Head Gardeners House and Bothy was another point on our recent agenda.

It is always a lovely job to do, it creates a feeling of the festive season straight away. We are taking only natural material from the garden. The mantlepiece over the fireplace in the Bothy got a mixture of dried Hydrangeas, the dried heads of Allium, Holly, Japanese Ceder, Eucalyptus and branches of the Korea Fir.

Pic5 The Christmas decoration in the Bothy

 

It is lovely to see that the swans are back to us. A family with 3 signets and 3 adult swans enjoy the quietness of the Maladrolaun Lake on the way to the Walled Garden, opposite the Diamond Hill. I tried to get closer to them to get a better shot but did not succeed. They are very shy and swam straight out onto the open lake.

Pic6 Maladrolaun Lake with swans

 

I wish all my readers a very Happy Christmas, in peace and full of joy. Enjoy a bit of rest from the garden work. Hopefully the weather invites for nice long winter walks.

I will be back with more news from behind the Walls of Kylemore Garden in the New Year.

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in December
To Sow / Propagate:

 

~ Sow hardy Garlic cloves in suite

~ First indoor sowing of Broad beans and Lettuces for early planting

~ Grafting of apples and pears

To plant:
~ Plant bare-rooted  trees, roses and fruit trees
~ Divide and replant herbaceous perennials, make sure weeds like scotch grass is removed before replanting

To harvest:

~Turnips, Parsnips
~ Kale & Cabbages
~ Leeks, Spinach or Leaf beets

To maintain & prune & feed:

~Frost protect water taps, move watering hoses indoor

~ Clean and tidy potting sheds, tool sheds, propagation trays, pots, etc.

~Build cold frames for raising early crops under glass
~ Start winter pruning of Apple & Pear trees
~ Prune deciduous trees and shrubs after flowering for a balanced shape
~ Prune climbing roses by half

~ Check on stored Potatoes, bulbs and fruits for diseases and dispose of affected ones
~ Prune Grapevines, leave about two to three buds of laterals (side shoots of this year’s growths)
~ Clean up Herbaceous Borders, cut down old growths

~Plan next year seasons, eg. crop-rotation plans

Garden Blog October & November 2019

The last of the autumn colours are fading and it is time to prepare for the winter season here behind the walls of the Victorian Walled Garden in Kylemore Abbey.

We already experienced night frosts and cold snaps which seems quite early for us here on the western shores of Ireland. It is time to move in all tender plants, to re-pot plants which were left outside for the last season, to feed them and to clear and cut down old growth. Cannas for examples are dug up from their positions in flower beds and put in crates with a cover of compost around the root stocks and kept in the glasshouses.

Pic1 The last of autumn colours in the Formal Flower Garden

 

 

Pic2 Tender plants in our Vinery

 

Now is the time to sort out  harvested seeds. Make sure they are probably dried when putting them into seed packets . They should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place, away from mice! It is also no harm to check them once a while in case they are molding in the packet which could lead to loosing all other seeds in the same packet.

Pic3 Bean pods for drying off, seeds will be taken out later for further drying

 

We also harvested our one and only melon ‘Ananas’ few days ago. Nearly overripe, it still tasted very juicy with a hint of Pineapple. ‘Ananas’ translates into Pineapple from German or French. I kept the seeds for drying so hopefully we will be able to grow more next year.

Pic4 The seeds of our melon ‘Ananas’

 

Our pumpkins are also holding out so far. They just give a nice splash of colour to the otherwise rather dull looking Vegetable Garden at the moment. They will turn into mush once they are exposed to more frost though so we better move them in soon.

Pic5 The last of the marrows and pumpkins

 

We are nearly finished with our extensive spring bulb planting scheme for this year. Thousands of heritage bulbs like Tulips, Narcissus, Snow Drops, Fritillarias, Crocuses or Gladiolus were planted inside and outside the garden walls.

We also started a bulb planting scheme on the vast grounds along the garden avenue to the Walled Garden in an area which was cleaned from the invasive Rhododendron ponticum few years ago. Lets hope the birds wont dig up too many this winter, one of the problems we have had during the last few years. We planted close to 5000 bulbs in this area. If this proves successful we will continue next autumn and pick another cleared area.

Pic6 Tulip and Gladiolus bulbs laid out and ready for planting in one of the formal bedding schemes in the Walled Garden

 

 

Pic7 The last of our spring bulbs which are kept upstairs in our Bothy

 

One thing which always strikes me here in Connemara is the autumn colour of the surrounding landscape. Taking pictures on a regular base means few challenges, especially during the summer months with the glaring sun. The low sun during the off season helps in capturing natures best.

Pic8 View from the National Park over to Kylemore Abbey

 

Near our main entrance to the Walled Garden are these two stunning looking trees, a Monterey Pine and a Monterey Cypress. Both are well over 140 years old and the most fascinating detail for me is the ancient looking bark, covered in lichens and moss. These trees were planted during the establishment of Kylemore Castle and the Walled Garden around 1870. Both varieties are non native conifers imported from the Monterey County in California close to the Pacific .

Pic9 Monterey Pine (front) and Monterey Cypress

 

We were holding our traditional Halloween event once again at the end of October within the garden perimeters. The weather could not have been better and young and old were celebrating ‘Samhain’, the Celtic  New Year.

Pic10 Traditional  carving of turnip lanterns which is a bit tougher then carving pumpkins

 

 

Pic11 The wise  woman in our Bothy

 

 

Pic12 The widow cooking potatoes for Colcannon  and also for handing them out against evil spirits

 

Pic13 Our two story tellers created thrills and few chills….

 

 

Pic14 Fiona, our last garden student and also a professional florist created lovely autumnal bouquets for the visitors

 

Pic15 The highlight of the event, the Bonfire at the end with traditional music, sean nos dancing, pucas and a bit of craic!

 

I will be back with more news from the Walled Garden here in Kylemore in December. We will stay busy until then, slán.

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in November / December
To Sow / Propagate:

~ First indoor sowing of Broad beans and Lettuces
~ Sow perennial seeds

To plant:
~ Plant bare-rooted  trees, roses and fruit trees
~ Divide and replant herbaceous perennials, make sure weeds like scotch grass is removed before replanting

To harvest:

~Turnips, Parsnips
~ Kale & Cabbages
~ Leeks, Spinach or Leaf beets

To maintain & prune & feed:

~Frost protect water taps, move watering hoses indoor

~ Clean and tidy potting sheds, tool sheds, propagation trays, pots etc.

~Build coldframes for raising early crops under glass
~ Start winter pruning of Apple & Pear trees
~ Prune deciduous trees and shrubs after flowering for a balanced shape
~ Prune climbing roses by half

~ Check on stored Potatoes, bulbs and fruits for diseases and dispose affected ones
~ Check Apple and Pear trees for sign of canker and cut out if occurring
~ Prune Grape vines, leave about two to three buds of laterals (side shoots of this years growths)
~ Clean up Herbaceous Borders, cut down old growths

~Plan next year seasons,eg. crop rotation plans

Garden Blog September 2019

Welcome back to our September edition of the garden blog for Kylemore Abbey.

There is nearly no way around then to start with the most important topic here in Ireland, the weather! We must have had four (or even five…) different seasons within the last two weeks. Temperatures reached up to 26 degrees Celsius mid September. The scenery here in Connemara with the autumnal display surrounding us, is absolutely stunning these days. It is actually a challenge to dress appropriate for these weather changes. From too cold to too hot, and all this within a span of  two or three hours can be a bit irritating sometimes.

Pic1 Indian summer here in the Walled Garden in mid September

 

Pic2 View from the Head Gardeners House over the eastern part of the Flowergarden with the mountain range of the Twelfe pins  in the background

 

We experienced subtropical conditions in our Vinery, one of the two restored glasshouses. Good ventilation and early morning watering  is vital these days. Tree ferns and Bananas thrive in humidity and need to be sprayed off with water daily. The passion flower, growing on the back wall, will get a hard pruning when finished flowering. It even produced a couple of fruits this year.

Pic3 Lush greenery in our Vinery

 

Our succulents did quite well this year. Propagated from seeds in April, they grew amazingly well for the first season. Succulents like Echeverias or Aeoniums were used to create typical Carpet Bedding schemes in Victorian times. It could be quite tricky to re-create these schemes with our ever changing weather conditions. Most succulents like dry and warm conditions in sandy or gritty free draining soil.

Pic4 Different types of Aeoniums in our propagation glasshouse

 

Pic5 Aeonium arboreum, a perfect rosette of succulent leaves

 

Our little artificial rockery, planted up in an old wheelbarrow, also enjoyed the heat wave. You could nearly watch the plants growing and few even produced lovely flower heads.

Pic6 The Mini Rockery in our Vinery

 

We just harvested the last of the potatoes and also held the last Vegetable sale for this year.

One old potato variety, ‘Black Bog’, grew well this season and produced enough potatoes to sell few in the Vegetable Sale. It is a very old variety, originally grown in the midlands and suppose to be blight resistant. We always keep enough seed potatoes for the coming season.

Pic7 Heritage potato variety ‘Black Bog’

 

A fresh layer of Seaweed was just put around our spring cabbages. This natural fertilizer will also act as a mulch and will prevent the small plants from uprooting during strong winds or storms. You definitely get the hint of the Atlantic when passing by, it always reminds me of my summer holidays on the Baltic Sea when I was a child in Germany.

Pic8 A fresh layer of seaweed on the plot with the spring cabbages with a lovely view over to the Diamond Hill

 

The late sun in September is bringing out the autumn colour of many shrubs and trees. They can hold on to the leaves for a long time when planted in sheltered positions. One nice shrub with lovely autumn colour is Euonymus oxyphyllus, the Korean Spindle Tree. It s growing in a very sheltered spot in our shrub border along the south wall of the walled garden. The vibrant red of the leaves works to well with the small round fruits  which are also dark red.

Pic9 Autumn colour of the Korean Spindle Tree

 

The bees are making the most out of the last of the flowers like the second flush of Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’. There is still quite an activity within the insect world here in the garden. The close up of the bumble bee shows the delicate anatomy of the wings.

Pic10 Bumble Bee on a Clematis ‘Nelly Mopser’ flower

 

Staying in the animal world, our two wholly pigs are also enjoying the last heat of the sun during their afternoon nap. Gloria, to the front, was a bit smarter then Ken in the background and positioned herself actually in the sun!

Pic10 Gloria and Ken on napping time!

 

Please find the usual hints and tips for gardening in October. I will be back with more news coming month, until then good gardening to everybody!

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

 

Garden jobs you can do in October:

 

To Sow or Propagate

~ Sow fresh seeds of perennials

~ Take semi-ripe cuttings of shrubs

~ Pot on rooted cuttings of Hydrangeas or Fuchsias

 

To Plant

~ Hedges, Fruit trees and bushes

~ Annual spring bedding and spring bulbs

 

To Harvest

~ Everything what’s still out there!

(Nuts, Pears, Apples, Carrots, Parsnips, Leeks, Cabbages, Beetroot…)

~ Leave crops like Turnips or Leeks in ground for another while

 

To Maintain

~ Autumn feed lawns, scarify if necessary

~ Keep on top of fallen leaves, rake or leave-blow regularly

~ Power wash slippery surfaces

~ Clean Gutters, could be a big build up of leaves

Garden Diary August 2019

It is early morning here in the Walled Garden of Kylemore Abbey and I am walking through the six-acre tranquility to take my monthly pictures. The rain, which we had plenty off for the whole month of August, just stopped and gives me the needed opportunity to catch every angle of the garden with my camera. We have only had two dry days in August as a matter of fact! That leaves us with soaking wet lawns which squelch when walking over them, a big challenge for our greenkeeper!

It is coming towards harvesting time for apples, pumpkins, and grapes. These all developed quite well this season, despite the recent weather conditions. The grapes and pumpkins need another two or three weeks to fully ripen.

Pic1 Apple ‘Valentine’, a dual apple; also suitable to make Cider

 

Pic2 Grape ‘Black Hamburgh’ needs another two weeks to be fully ripe

 

Pic3 Pumpkins and Marrows; the orange Pumpkin ‘Rouge Vif D’ Etampes’ grew a lot since last month (look at the Garden Diary from July)

 

It is also harvesting time for our french and runner beans. I love especially the crunchiness of the string-less french beans. They are so easy to prepare without the fuss runner beans sometimes need.

Pic4 Runner and French beans on our newly designed supports; these supports proved to be very successful in holding up the weight, especially during strong winds and storms here in Connemara

 

Pic5 A selection of French beans ‘Bluelake Stringless’, ‘Cosse Violet’ and Runner beans ‘Painted Lady’

 

We had to wait a while before we were able to take out our Onions, the ground was just too wet and we could not leave the onions on the plot for drying off.

Pic6 Onions laid out for drying

 

When I was up on a ladder to prune and train our indoor peach tree along the inside wall of the Vinery I thought that the interior looked very tropical from above with all the lush greens of the Bananas, the Ginger Lilies, the Bird of Paradise and the climbing grapes.

Pic7  Plants in our Vinery

 

The flower garden and the Herbaceous Border changed colour again. Late season perennials and shrubs are now flowering in different shades of rosé, purples, lilacs, and yellows. These include Anemones, Cyclamen, Cannas and Hydrangeas.

Pic8 Anemone ‘Queen Charlotte’, bred over 100 years ago in 1898

 

 

Pic9 Cyclamen hederifolium – the Ivy-leaved Cyclamen in our Fernery

 

Pic10 Our Cannas have a stunning season this year, the best I can remember anyway! It is not often that they get to this height.

 

Pic11 Kirengeshoma palmata in the Fernery likes half shade and moist conditions; slugs love them!

I was always wondering about the genus name and where it came from: It is Japanese, ki means yellow and rengeshoma is a similar-looking plant, the false anemone.

I actually educate myself a lot when doing these Garden Diaries! Nothing is worse than false information’s, even so, it is hard to get it always spot on with so many sources available or sometimes none at all!

 

Our main walk through the garden is lined by flowering Red Hot Pokers once again. It always resembles the beginning of autumn to me. I really like this point of view through the whole length of the garden. It gives you a good idea about the garden’s huge scale. This view would be facing west where we could get strong gales from the Atlantic which is only two kilometers away. The line of trees protects the flower garden at least partially.

Pic12 The East – West orientated main avenue through the garden which was formerly the main road to Letterfrack

 

As I mentioned in one my previous garden blogs, I  have tried to grow Melons in our cold frames once again. Hand pollinating the female flowers with the aid of the male flowers was necessary to get any results, a task you need a bit of patience for! Hidden under leaves we found this little guy below!

Our first and only melon! My gardeners thought he needs extra care since he looked a bit fragile! He is only in his infant stage and needs to grow a lot more!

That’s all for now, more to come from our September garden at the end of the month. Below are more garden tips for the month of September.

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

General Garden tips for September:

To sow/propagate:

~ Sow overwintering green manure directly in the ground

~ Continue potting on spring bedding plants like Wallflowers as backup plants

~ Propagate shrubs from semi ripe cuttings, cuttings could be left outside or in frames once they rooted

~ Collect ripe seeds of various annuals and perennials, dry them properly before bagging, label and date them

 

To plant:

~ Lettuces, Spring Onions or Spring Cabbages can still be planted out

~ Re-sow lawns after scarifying

 

To harvest:

~ Apples, Pears, Nuts, Blackberries

~ Carrots, Cabbages, Kales, Lettuces, Beetroots, Spring Onions

~ Runner Beans, French Beans, Dwarf Beans

~ Herbs; also for drying (great for the winter colds…, my favorites would be thyme and sage)

 

To maintain & prune & feed:

~ Blow leaves of lawns regularly to avoid browning off the grass

~ Pick up fallen fruits, they will only attract rodents; could be still used  to make jams or chutneys

~ Moss treat and scarify lawns

~ Prune summer fruiting Raspberries, Gooseberries and Currants

Garden Diary July 2019

Welcome to our high summer garden diary from our Victorian Walled Garden. It is the second of August already and somebody came to me yesterday and said it is the first day of autumn! I must have looked a bit shocked and started to explain that in Germany August would be your main summer month. I know that seasons are counted a bit differently here in Ireland but I always struggle to accept that February is spring and August counts as autumn!

Anyhow, the weather we are experiencing is definitely more like summer at the moment and it is a pleasure to work outside and enjoy the fruits of hard labour from the previous recent months.

The summer bedding is doing very well. Regular deadheading, especially of the Calendulas are vital at the moment and ensure a continuous display. They have to last another month at least, preferable another two before we start to change the summer bedding to next years spring bedding. We are also replanting a second lot of younger Calendulas in between the older ones.

Pic1 Calendula ‘Orange King’ in combination with Lobelia ‘Chrystal Palace’ in our Parterre

 

Pic2 Tagetes tenuifolia ‘Golden Gem’, Lobelia ‘Mrs. Clibran’, Tropaeolum ‘Empress of India’ and Canna in our formal bedding scheme with the Propagation glasshouse in the background

We finally got around to fixing our sundial at the top of the garden. We got a nice replica from an antic shop and it is lovely to see that visitors try to read the time, only on a sunny day of course!

Pic3 Our new sundial at the Parterre

 

White is always a good colour to bring out contrast in the garden. Our ‘Snake beds’ are planted with the white flowering Lavatera ‘Mont Blanc’, a lovely annual Mallow. The huge flowers attract a lot of insects, a good sign nowadays. The white works well with the restored Vinery in the background.

Pic4 ‘Snake beds’ in full bloom

 

The kitchen garden is similarly lovely and at its heights at the moment. We never saw the Curley Kale so big and full. Also the Red Cabbage ‘Red Drumhead’ gives a great show this season. The Calendula in between the rows is acting as a companion plant and also brings a bit of colour in between the greens.

Pic5 One of the Brassica plots with a selection of Kales and Cabbages

 

The Courgettes, Marrows, and Pumpkins have had another good season. It is worthwhile to cover the young plants with cloches when they are planted out to give them the needed protection here in our climate. The leaves can develop mild mildew sometimes but it is removed easily.

Pic6 Tiny pumpkin ‘Rouge Vif D’ Etampes’, still a bit to go to full size; this heritage variety dates back to the 1880th and was once the main pumpkin in French markets

 

Pic7 Courgette ‘Green Bush’, always a good reliable variety

 

It is the second year in a row that we were able to grow this unusual tomato variety. The ‘Pineapple’ tomato, also a heritage variety, is called after its shape and has a marbling flesh and a fruity taste. Many beefsteak tomatoes are rather dry but this one is very juicy and worth a try. The size is similar to a medium-sized apple.

Pic8 Delicious tomato ‘Pineapple’

 

Other garden areas like the Rockery are also worth a visit. This natural Rock Garden is hidden behind a Sycamore hedge on the top of the garden and like a secret garden since not visible from down below. It took many years to establish as the growing conditions here are not the easiest ones. The yuccas enjoy the heat in between the natural lime stone and are in full bloom at the moment.

Pic9 Yucca flaccida (‘Adam’s needle) and Erigeron karvinskianus (Mexican fleebane) in the foreground

 

I planted a few different heritage varieties of Cannas  in our Head Gardeners Border recently and Canna x ehemannii which  has lovely reddish purple blossoms. The name ‘ehemannii’ derives from the german name ‘Ehemann’ which translates into ‘Husband’.

Pic10 Canna x ehemannii in the subtropical Head Gardeners Border with the Head Gardeners House in the background

 

Another showy plant in front of the Head Gardeners House is the Pineapple Lilly, Eucomis bicolor. Its striking and very unusual flowers are a show stopper at the moment. The flowers will last for a couple of weeks and we will save seeds from this bulbous perennial when they are ripe.

Pic11 The Pineapple Lilly in full bloom

 

Mornings and evenings  are the quitest times here in the garden and are very inviting for a calming stroll through all the different areas like the Herbaceous Border for example.

With these words I would like to end this months Garden Diary, more to come in early September. Enjoy your own or other gardens for the last month of summer!

Pic12 The Herbaceous Border end July

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

 

Things you can do in your garden in July:

To Sow / Propagate:

~ Its still time to sow more Green Manures like Phacelia to cover plots; lovely for wildlife when flowering
~ Start to sow spring beddings like Wallflowers
~ Sow spring cabbages like ‘April’ or Curley Kales for over wintering crops

~ Take cuttings of non-flowering shoots of Santolina, Dianthus, Pelargonium, Hydrangea or Fuchsia

To plant:

~ Plant out potted plants into borders and water well in
~ Replace summer bedding if necessary
~ Plant out more catch crops like lettuces and spring onion

 

To harvest:

~ Courgettes, Marrows
~ Mangetouts, Peas, Broad beans
~ Main Potatoes
~ Lettuce, Spinach, Leaf beet
~ Herbs for drying or for fresh herbal teas like Sage or Mint

To maintain & prune & feed:

~Feed annuals in pots or planters on a regular base
~ Cut down Comfrey and use as mulch and feed
~ Regularly dead heading of bedding plants like Calendula and herbaceous plants for continues flower display
~ Check vegetables and flowers for pest and diseases e.g. cabbage root fly, caterpillars, green flies, blight
~ Prune shrubs like Weigelia after flowering
~ Feed lawns and treat Box hedges

Garden Blog June 2019

Welcome back to our June edition of our Garden Blog.

We experienced a lovely spell of dry weather this June, our rainfall was just around 95 ml for the month. The heat in the recent two weeks made plants, especially in our double Herbaceous Border jump and is creating a lovely display along the 80 meters of the historic plant selection. One of the main Herbaceous flowering at the moment is Digitalis ambigua, the Yellow Foxglove. This perennial was introduced before 1900 and is the longest flowering Foxglove. In Germany they are called Thimbles (‘Fingerhut’) due to the shape of the flowers. Just keep in mind that all parts of the plants are poisonous.

Pic1 Digitalis ambigua – Yellow Foxglove (A snail found a home under the bottom left flower head!)

 

The Yellow Foxglove looks particularly nice in combination with the purple Iris kaempferi as a backdrop.

Pic2 Yellow Foxgloves and purple Irises

 

Pic3 Northside of the Herbaceous Border end of June

 

Pic4 A mixture of Verbascum, Tanacetum and Acanthus in the Border

 

The crops in the Vegetable Garden are filling the plots nicely and  a few things such as Mangetouts are ready for harvesting.

Our Cabbages have also made a healthy growth within the last few weeks. Seaweed fertilizer played a big part  in this. Cabbages are very hungry crops and need a good feed. They will be ready for the coming Vegetable Sale in a couple of days.

Pic5 Cabbage ‘Greyhound’ in our Brassica plot

 

Our potatoes are also doing great so far. The Queens will probably be ready for harvesting in about four weeks time.

Pic6 Potatoes ‘British Queens’ with Diamond Hill in the back ground

 

It is lovely to see our Globe Artichokes doing so well this season. We had years when we hardly had any. I love the architectural look of them and rather have them flowering then eating!

 

Pic7 Globe Artichokes!

 

The warm spell we are experiencing at the moment is also great for the melons. We were very unlucky in growing these fruit in recent years. Lets hope it works out better this summer. They are kept in the coldframe which is developing a lot of heat under the low glass frames. Back in Victorian times they had a special glasshouse for Melons alone here in Kylemore.

Pic8 Melons ‘Ananas’ and ‘Zatto’, two Italien varieties

 

The weather is also an advantage for tender plants like succulents. I researched few different old seed varieties of Echeverias last winter which we propagated successfully in spring. They developed quite well and are planted out in a typical Victorian urn planter now.

Pic9 Echeverias and scented Pelargonium

 

We were a bit behind with our flower display in the Formal Gardens but most summer bedding plants are  in bloom finally. The later season can also mean that we will have a longer display, going right into autumn hopefully.

Pic10 Calendulas, Lobelias, Tropaeolums and Cannas in our formal Flower Garden; restored Vinery in background

 

We are also expanding our ‘Animal display’. Hannah and Heidi, a Connemara mare and her foal found a new home in the meadow behind the Teahouse. They are already very popular with the visitors and the backdrop with the Diamond Hill gives a lovely  picture opportunity.

 

Please join me again for more news from the Victorian Walled Garden here in Kylemore next month.

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke