In line with public health advice, Kylemore Abbey is currently closed.

January & February Garden Blog 2021

A very warm welcome back to our first garden blog of 2021 from the Victorian Walled Garden here in Kylemore Abbey.

Winter showed its face within the past few weeks and Kylemore was covered under a light blanket of snow. The coming few days are promised cold again, so let’s hope it won’t be too severe around here. Saying this, as gardeners we prefer clear frosty weather to wet stormy conditions. The landscape looks completely transformed with snow, especially here between the mountains. For me, it feels a bit like Germany, my home place which I could not visit for over a year by now.

Few plants like Grapes need a bit of frost in order to be pruned and our friends, the slugs and midges, might be deterred a bit more by the time summer comes around.


Pic1 The first of the snowflakes are peeping through a layer of last years leaves


Pic2 Early morning in the Flower Garden, the snow did not melt that day.


Pic3 View from the Herb Garden, grey snow-laden clouds hanging in between the mountains


January kept us very busy. We cleared the outside of the north wall from the dreaded invasive Rhododendron ponticum. That was last done nearly twenty years ago, at the time the garden was re-opened to the public after the restoration was finished. It is incredible how fast and furious the wild Rhododendron is taking over native plants and structures. The newly exposed limestone walls show fantastic craftsmanship for the time it was build, at around 1867. The masonry work on the battered walls, which are about four meters high, is in perfect condition.  A few areas need re-capping but the structure in it self is flawless.

Pic4 The outside of the battered limestone wall as part of the surrounding garden wall


Mosses, lichens and tree seedlings like the rough surface and the crevices in between the stones, which came from a limestone quarry close to the garden. Talking about lichens, Kylemore must have been and still is a heaven for the latter. We found early references, dating back to the 1870th, where a Mr. Charles du Bois Larbalestier (1838-1911), originally from Jersey, who stayed in Kylemore as a tutor to the sons of  Mitchel Henry,  collected different types of Lichens on the Kylemore estate. He was such a keen lichenologist that he even discovered new species on the estate, mainly on tree barks and rocks, which were later published in ‘The Lichen Flora of Great Britain, Ireland and Channel Island 1876’ and his collection was exhibited in the British Museum of Natural History. A quote of  Mr. Larbalestier says: ‘Among these plants you will, doubtless, find many good things and even perhaps some that are new’ (Mitchell, 1996).

Already 150 years ago it was known that lichens are indicators for air pollution, the more there are, the less pollution. Recent studies from different universities proved the fact that the abundance of lichens here in Kylemore is very unique.

I have to say that I am fascinated by the old founding’s, especially if you think about how remote we are here, on the western shores of Ireland. There is plenty more research to be done and new findings are nearly certain, it can be addictive!

Pic5 Stepped wall of the garden with 12 bens mountain range in the background


Wintertime is pruning time for apples and pears. Ours are getting an annual pruning where we cut out the old, diseased and deadwood. Last years growth will be trimmed back by half to encourage fruit spurs. Few of our apple trees, unfortunately, have canker so I had to go a bit harder on these trees in order to cut out the cankered wood. In normal circumstances, we would only reduce the growth by about 20 %.

Pic6 Apple tree with canker before pruning…


Pic7 …. and after pruning! The grey fluff on the bark is actually a lichen and won’t harm the trees! It looks more like a warm winter coat.


I kept a few shoots of healthy apple trees as grafting material. These will be grafted onto M26 rootstocks.

Also, the wall trained pear trees were pruned last week. Different varieties of Heritage pears are growing along the west- and south-facing red brick walls where they have optimal protection from strong winds and a warm spot since the brick is retaining the heat from the sun.

A light summer pruning of apples and pears can encourage the ripening of fruits if required.

Pic8 Trained pear trees


February means propagation time all over again. It feels a bit like a Déjà Vu.

I listed and uploaded a few pictures in chronological order below to show the different steps needed for propagating plants from seeds.

We use strong plastic broadcast trays in two different sizes, depending on how many seeds you want to sow. These trays have small holes on the bottom to drain off excess water. We would sow around 150 seeds into a full-size tray.

Pic9 Broadcast tray, clean well before sowing


Your second step would be filling seed compost into the tray to about 1cm below the top. We mix Vermiculite into the compost to improve the structure of the compost for better aerating and holding water. We are also sieving over the compost to create a more levelled surface for the seeds so they germinate more evenly.

Pic10 Tray with seed compost, sieved on top


Pic11 Compost aid Vermiculite, easy to get in garden centre’s


Now we are ready for sowing! If the compost is very dry you should lightly mist it before sowing.

Before you sow the seeds make sure you have an idea how many seeds you have in the package. Most times it looks less then you think it is. So instead of sowing 150 seeds, you could easily end up sowing 300. The seed package should have the amount printed on it.

Since seeds are getting more and more expensive, especially the Heritage seeds we are using, you don’t want to waist too many. Most seeds last for several years and could be used for the coming year.

We are using a small scale, used normally for diamonds, to weigh the required amount. Well, our freight is not as valuable as diamonds but still important to keep our garden going. Below is an example of the weight of around 120 Cabbage seeds which we sow into one broadcast tray. As you can see they are weighing 0.62 gram.

Pic12 Cabbage seeds on a diamond scale!


Once you are happy with the seed amount you can either sow them with your fingers or put them in a seed dial like the picture below shows. These dials are very handy and easy to use. The numbers indicate the size of the opening the seeds are coming out, so the smaller the number, the smaller the seed.  They are especially handy for really small seeds like Lobelia or Petunia seeds. They are like dust and nearly impossible to sow by hand. Sometimes people use folded papers where the seeds are tipped into the trays from.

Pic13 Ready for sowing with a seed dial


It is important to sow seeds as evenly as possible. We teach our students to sow in rows, let’s say for 120 seeds you sow 10 rows with 12 seeds each.

With a bit of practice, you get the hang of it pretty fast. I for example sow diagonal, don’t ask me why. Everybody has their own tactic which is perfectly fine as long as the seeds are evenly spread. Once the seeds are sown you sieve a very light layer of compost over, really only as high as the size of the seeds. Seeds might not grow if sown too deep. Few seeds like Lobelias, the really fine ones, don’t need any cover, or maybe only a sprinkle of Vermiculite. So it is important to follow the instructions on the packages. Other seeds like Sweet peas for example should be soaked for 24h before sowing.

After finishing the sowing and top dressing we use a light board to press gently on the surface so the seeds have good contact with the soil.

Pic14 A light board is used to press gently down on the compost


We are nearly there, just a few more things. Labelling is essential unless you only sow one variety. We sow several hundred and would end up with a huge mess if the labels would not be there. These labels are re-useable and kept for many years. Use a pencil for writing on them, pens or markers are washed off after a while when watering the trays. Also, pencil is easily rubbed off if needed.

Pic15 Labelled tray with Curley Kale seeds


Last but not least, give your tray a light mist if necessary. If the compost is wet enough there is no need. We use these water guns with different settings, so the mist setting is the one we use on seed trays. Few seeds, mainly annual flower seeds like Petunias need around 18 to 20 degrees Celsius in order to germinate. They need to be put onto heat mats or hot boxes. Most vegetable seeds don’t require heat though.

Pic16 Water gun


Since we have many thousand seeds to sow each year it is very import to keep records about sowing, potting on and planting. A simple record book or diary will do the job. We write down the date of sowing or potting, the variety we have sown, the amount and tray size, heat requirements and the name of the person who sowed the seeds in case they die….so we can blame somebody ( in the case below I would have to blame myself though)! Just joking, but with many different people propagating here in Kylemore, it is good to keep track who is doing what in case we have questions.

Pic17  Our propagation record book


These are all the news from behind the walls of the garden here in Kylemore for now. There is plenty to do within the coming weeks and we won’t be short of work. The first early seed potatoes need to be put into light in order to sprout so they can be sown around St. Patricks Day. Also, the Herbaceous Border is getting a big tidy up, digging and forking job done, but more about this in the next Garden Blog.

Pic18 Our companion the Robin is watching every move we do in case we dig up a lovely juicy worm…


Below are the usual garden tips and hints.


Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke


Things you can do in your garden in February 

To Sow / Propagate:

~ Grafting apple trees

~ Sow vegetable seeds of Kales, Cabbages, Spring Onion, Lettuces, Broad beans, Radishes  indoor in trays

~ First sowing of Flower seeds like Tagetes at the end of the month

~ Take cuttings of Red-, Black – and White Currants

To plant:
~ Plant bare- rooted trees and hedges

~ Divide and transplant perennials in borders

~ Divide & replant chives (also great in borders and good for black flies on roses)

To maintain & prune & feed:

~ Compost heaps could be turned and activated with powdered Seaweed

~ Pruning of apple and pear trees

~Prune Gooseberries

~ Service all garden machinery and sharpen blades of hand tools

~ Top dress and feed herbaceous borders with  own rotted compost

Christmas Garden Blog 2020

Here we are, Christmas 2020 is only few days away and we are wrapping up the garden work for the coming two weeks for our Christmas break.

What a year it was, it is actually hard to put it into words, too much happened in too many different ways. We had to adjust to new ways of working, taking onboard new measures, getting used to restricted movements, not having close contact to visitors to the Victorian Walled Garden, priorities jobs, leaving out non-essential work, still making sure the garden is keeping up its high standards in these uncertain times. We also had to say happy retirement to my former Assistant Head Gardener Dolores Hogan who put all her heart into this garden for over twenty years.

The garden team showed great commitment and worked well together as a team which tells a lot about this place.

Coming into the garden this morning I realized once again how special Kylemore Abbey & Garden is. The quietness of the Walled Garden on a frosty, sunny and calm day, situated in this unique landscape with  grand vistas to the surrounding mountain range just puts everything into perspective and connects you very much with nature.

To finish off this years garden blogs I put few garden impressions from December below and I also want to take the opportunity to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas, Nollaig Shona, Schoene Weihnachten! I will spend this Christmas in Ireland, so I need to adjust to the Irish way of celebrating, well it will be a mix of German and Irish traditions I would say!

Warm wishes and more news from the Victorian Walled Garden in 2021!

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

Pic1 Morning frost on Phlomis russeliana – Turkish Sage


Pic2 The last of the Crabapples, view over to the Diamond Hill in the morning sun


Pic3 Winter Turnips


Pic4 Sorting and cataloging new seed deliveries


Pic5 The Vegetable Plots are well covered; bottom left a layer of local sheep wool; bottom right a layer of local seaweed; the top plots have a plastic cover

Pic6 The Vinery got scrubbed and cleaned, the walls freshly white washed with lime. All tender plants are housed in here over the next few month.


Pic7 View along the Herbaceous Border to the Westgate of the Walled Garden



Pic8 First snow in Kylemore Abbey!


Garden Blog October & November 2020

Welcome back to my late autumn garden blog here from the Victorian Walled Garden in Kylemore Abbey & Garden.

We experienced a couple of nice weeks in October. It must have been a bumper year for wild mushrooms. Everywhere you looked on our estate there was a fungi peeping through layers of leaves, moss or grass. Old tree stumps or dead trees were also laden with all different types. I am not an expert on fungi and would only pick a handful of species I am familiar with. We did a few foraging sessions with experts before but could not do it this year due to the COVID restrictions.

Pic1 A ‘Shaggy Mane’ growing outside the garden walls; it is an edible mushroom when picked young (I still have to try this one!)



Pic2 Old trees are ideal habitats for fungi and give a nearly architectural structure to it – nature at its best!


Mushroom growing was quite fashionable in Walled Gardens back in Victorian times. Underground chambers, sometimes heated, were used to grow this fruiting fungus. The dark setting was ideal since no light was needed. The gardeners here in Kylemore did the same and grew them in build-up rooms below the glasshouse complex and work sheds, sometimes with the aid of ultraviolet light.  If time allows us to do so we might give it a go again!


The weather was perfect for the preparation of the flower beds for the coming season. Several thousand spring bedding plants and bulbs were planted like every year into the formal beds in the Victorian fashion. The dry spell meant that we were able to work and plant the beds without sinking into heavy muddy soil which is not great, either for the plants or for our spirits! You can also plant twice as fast into dryer, looser compost then into squishy boggy soil. As always, we mixed a nice bit of our own rotted compost into the flower beds.

Pic3 The ‘D-beds’ are cleared, top dressed and re-shaped with the very Victorian formal edge of about one foot between the lawn edge and the planting edge



Pic4 The ‘Shamrock beds’ are also ready for planting, first with spring bedding and then with spring bulbs in Victorian style


We did our last Vegetable sale in October, a mixture of kales, carrots, chives, beetroots and leaf beets were among it.

I especially like Kale ‘Red Russian’ (or also known as ‘Ragged Jack’ or ‘Sweet Red’). It is a heritage variety dating back to 1818 and is probably one of the nicest and sweetest kales. It does not require the endless cooking time as other varieties do. I used it in the traditional Irish dish Colcannon just recently and even my children liked it! The plant is also very decorative when used in mixed borders, it is definitely worth a try, even in non-Victorian gardens!

Pic5 The last crate with Vegetables for sale


Pic6 Kale’ Red Russian’, will overwinter quite well in our region



Pic7 More overwintering crops


This year is also a ‘Mast Year’ for Oak trees, which means the acorn production was on its high! This only occurs about every four years and means that we were able to collect acorns of the original oak trees here in Kylemore, which are well over 150 years old.

Pedunculate and Sessile Oak are the two main oak varieties here and every year we are re-planting these trees in cleared areas. This is part of a much bigger picture in view of re-establishing the unique woods here in Kylemore.

Grown from our own acorns on-site makes the trees more adaptable to our climate and soil and should succeed better. It is also very comforting to know that the parent trees are part of the estate history, going back probably several hundred years. The acorns are sown quite close since not all acorns will probably germinate. Once they reach a height of about 20 cm they will be transplanted.

Pic8 Sowing acorns of the Pedunculate Oak (Quercus robur) into outside seed beds


I am right in the middle of one of my busiest times of the year and very much bound to my garden office. Pre-planning the coming year, going through old records, drawing up planting schemes and lists, counting and sorting leftover vegetable-, flower- and herb seeds, researching heritage varieties in old books and plant lists, writing up seed orders…. the list seems endless but needs to be done on an annual base. Without this footwork, we would not be able to start our propagation of seeds coming year. It takes about six to nine months of pre-planning for specific areas.

We are also selling a small selection of heritage seeds in our craft shop which is unfortunately closed at the moment but the seeds can be ordered online. The Kale variety ‘Red Russian’, which I mentioned earlier on, is part of our Victorian Vegetable Collection. These gift boxes are lovely Christmas presents for garden lovers!

Pic9 Our Heritage Victorian Flower and Vegetable Seed Collection which are available online


Indoor work is quite high on our work agenda at the moment, especially on wet and stormy days like today! There is no shortage of work and important areas like the glasshouses are getting a proper scrubbing down. All timbers and glass areas are wiped down and treated with an anti-fungal solution. It is very important to do this work annually to prevent diseases and to maintain the glasshouse structure. We had a problem with Red Spider Mite on our wall trained indoor Peachtree this year and can hopefully prevent it in the coming season. Biological controls are good alternatives and few plants like Eucalyptus is beneficial to problems like the Red Spider Mite.

Cuttings are playing an important part in our plant propagation. We successfully propagated new herb plants from cuttings just recently. Lemon balm, Rosemary or Thyme are among them. Kept in hot boxes and individually covered reduced the transpiration and kept the plants moist. They are ready for potting on and will be planted out into the Herb Garden coming spring.

Pic10 Cuttings ready for potting on


Last but not least a few words about our boarders! Jacky and Jenny, our two garden cats, are doing great and are enjoying the warmth in the glasshouse ( where they should not be….). Saying this, they keep down the mice population big time so they deserve a bit of luxury!

Pic11 Two relaxed cats


Our other two boarders are Gloria and Ken, the very hairy Kune Kune pigs.

They survived these strange times pretty well so far, the healthy breakfast of rolled Barley would be on the top of their daily agenda. They also like their naps and can sleep up to 12 hours in their comfortable home which is the former Herdsman Bothy. A big outside run leaves enough room for exercise and digging roots!

Pic12 Gloria is enjoying her breakfast, with a smile I think!


These are all the news for now, please find below more seasonal garden tips.


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 and sweet peas


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 of affected ones
~ Check Apple and Pear trees for a sign of canker and cut out if occurring
~ 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 September 2020

Autumn spirit is with us these days.  A constant change in weather is our daily challenge as gardeners; from stormy and torrential rains to calm lovely sunny autumn days. We have layers of clothes on us so we can peel them off the warmer it gets!

Autumn flowering perennials like Asters, Sedums, Kaffir Lilies or Pearl Everlasting are among the perennials which are brightening up the garden at the moment. They are also lovely Cut flowers which can be used in small bouquets.

Pic1 An autumnal flower bouquet


The last of the grapes got harvested and the sweetness of them is increasing the riper they are, it is a bit like a sugar flush.

Its always funny when I explain children what raisons are and how they are produced!


Pic2 The last grape harvest


When I visit other gardens I always look for the not so obvious areas or hidden corners which can be quite charming or offer a lot of details. In our garden it would be the area behind the Vinery, the former Fernery Glasshouse. This glasshouse is not restored yet. Back then, 150 years ago, it was the perfect spot for an indoor fern garden. In the shade of the Vinery wall, the air moistened by a water basin, the ferns grew in pockets of artificial rock work in the wall. The sight must have been quite amazing. I wonder if birds sneaked in there to enjoy the humid and sheltered conditions. The glasshouse was shaped  the same way as the Vinery to the front, the south facing site. Curvilinear glass fronts which leaned onto the centered brick wall gave an optimal structure and created the perfect incidence of light for either the vines to the south or the ferns to the north.

Pic3 Area of the former Fern Glasshouse behind the Vinery


End of September and October is the time to start cutting back the old stalks of perennials in borders. Everything brown can be cut back to the ground or to the new set of leaves. Sometimes the old flower heads look very interesting and  are worth while to leave for another while. If you want  to collect seeds of this particular plant then the seeds need to be fully ripe. They also can provide food for birds. We keep old flower heads of Thistles, Artichokes or African Lilies and use them later for Christmas decorations.

Pic4 Old flower heads of Echinops sphaerocephalus, known commonly as glandular globe-thistle


We started to clear out the summer bedding, clearing and weeding the beds, forking them over and replanting with spring bedding.

Few summer bedding like Calendulas, Snap dragons and Cannas are clinging on to the last warm sunny days. They were just brilliant this year. I never saw our Cannas so big and multi-flowering. The annual bedding plants will be taken out, too and the Cannas will stay in the bed and covered with a layer of our own compost as a winter protection.

Pic5 The last of Calendula ‘Orange King’, Antirrhinum ‘Defiance’ and Canna indica ‘Purpurea’


The birds in the garden will be delighted this autumn, our Crabapples are covered with small red apples. We normally see mainly thrushes and black birds going for them at the end of the season. The Crabapples are not suitable to be eaten raw like normal apples and need to be cocked. I remember Sr. Benedict always making jelly out of them.

Pic6 Crabapples



The Vegetable Garden is well prepared for the coming months. We put a heavy layer of seaweed on all Brassica plots. The small spring cabbages have a good feed and protection with the seaweed spread around.

Pic7 Fresh seaweed around Kales and Cabbages


The last of the Runner beans and French beans got harvested. The crop was a bit lower then is previous years but the quality of the beans is still good. My favorite would be the French Bean ‘Blue Lake Stringless ‘, a good cropper with delicious and easy to prepare beans.

Pic8 French Bean ‘Blue Lake Stringless’ (bottom left), French Bean ‘Cosse Violet’ (bottom right), Runner bean ‘Painted Lady’ (top)


Apples and Pears are off the trees, too. Many blew off in recent storms so we had to harvest everything in recent weeks. The pears still need to ripen a bit more, they are left in the Vinery for the time being.

Pic9 Cooking apples



Pic10 Different types of pears


Today was a lovely day, the sun was quite warm and a gentle breeze went through the garden. The lower sun around this time of year means there are more shadows falling on the lawns from the surrounding trees. The light seems so much warmer then in the summer time!

Pic11 An autumn afternoon in the Formal Flower Garden


We will be very busy the coming few weeks with planting all spring bedding and bulbs. The dry weather helps, so lets hope we will get a bit more of it!

Below are the usual garden advises for this time of year.


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 Blog August 2020

I would like to start the August diary of the Victorian Walled Garden here in Kylemore Abbey with writing about our Subtropical Border which is situated just below the restored Head Gardeners House.

This Border was established about 18 years ago, mainly with seedlings of all types of mainly subtropical and textured plants. The seeds came from as far away as South-Africa or New Zealand. I remember propagating and planting different types of Acacias, Eucalyptus and Euphorbias. I love this border since the leave textures are so interesting, versatile, unique and just very bold. It also stands in great contrast to the more formal and rigid flower garden. We had to re-sow and re-plant many times over the last decade. Climate changes, wetter and stormier weather were not favourable for growing these types of plants which often need hotter and dryer summers then we experience here. One plant, Tetrapanax papyrifer or the Rice-Paper plant, planted two years ago and made our border its new home and seems to be happy out. It is originated in Taiwan and used in Chinese medicines. The massive deeply lobed leaves look great in any setting but work especially well between different types of Cannas like in our border. All Cannas we grow, like Canna ‘Annei’ or Canna ‘Ehemanii’, are again old Heritage varieties first bred in the 19th century.

Pic1 Tetrapanax papyrifer, Canna ‘Ehemannii’, Canna ‘Annei’ and Lupinus arboreus (to right)


Pic2 Subtropical Border below the Head Gardeners House – Blue flowering Lobelia gerardii, evergreen leaves of Beschorneria yuccoides (left) and Hedychium gardnerianum (Ginger lilies) in the back ground.


The flowers of the Ginger lily or also called Kahili Ginger are a lovely shade of lemon yellow and are also scented. We have a few growing in our Vinery to give a bit more protection and heat, the plants are about 6 feet tall. This plant comes originally from the Himalayas in Nepal, Buthan and India. It still astonishes me how all these exotic species ended up over a hundred years ago in our spheres and somehow adapted.

Pic3 Flower spikes of Hedychium gardnerianum


The grapes are nearly ripe in our restored  Vinery. Growing along the curvilinear side of the glasshouse, they have the perfect conditions for growing and ripening.

We are growing three different heritage types of grapes, ‘Buckland Sweetwater’, Black Hamburgh’ and ‘Grizzley Frontignan’. They all have different grape colours and tastes. Planted in around 2000, just after the restoration of the Vinery was finished, it took a while for the plants to establish.

Pic4  Muscat Vine ‘Grizzley Frontignan’, grown for white winemaking mainly in the south of France

The origin of this white wine grape variety is considered to be very ancient. This grape variety is said to be originated in the region of ancient Greece. After its origin in Greece, it was believed to be expanded in the form of cultivation in the areas of France and Italy during the Roman times. Every few years we are taking cuttings of theses plants in case we have to replant.


Our heritage tomatoes are also doing quite well this year. All types of shapes, colours and sizes are within our range.

Going from the biggest to the smallest we have for example Tomato ‘Brandywine’, Tomato ‘Pineapple’, Tomato ‘Pear Shaped’, Tomato ‘St.Pierre’ or Tomato ‘Redcurrant’. It is easy enough to save seeds of tomatoes, just scrape out the seeds of the ripe tomato and puts them on a bit of kitchen roll for drying. Once they are dry put the seeds in a paper bag in a dark cool place for the coming season.

Pic5 Tomato ‘Pineapple’ from 1874 (back), ‘Yellow Pear shaped’  from 1805 (front left) and ‘Red Currant’ from 1795 (front right)



We are growing over 30 different old apple varieties here behind the walls, a mixture of Irish and English varieties.

It seems to be a good season for apples, better then last year. Unfortunately the recent storms and torrential rains resulted in an early fall of apples. Most of them are still usable for jams and pies, though. The nuns making their own apple sauce from the apples.

One variety which did really well this year is ‘Worcester Pearmain’, an English variety from Worcester, introduced in 1874. It was once the most popular variety grown for early autumn harvesting. The medium sized apples are crunchy and juicy, supposedly with a strawberry flavour…..well I did not taste Strawberries but they still have a lovely taste!

Pic6 Apple ‘Worcester Pearmain’



The same counts for the pears. Plenty of crop this year. We had to take a good few pears off already since the cropping was too heavy and not all fruits would ripen. A light summer pruning will also encourage the ripening process. The main pruning is happening during the winter month.

Pic7  Pear ‘Emily d ‘Heyst’


The Vegetable Garden is undergoing its second planting season at the moment. Newly propagated spring cabbages are getting planted into cleared plots where peas or broad beans grew earlier on. A nice feed with home brew  Comfrey and Seaweed will strengthen the plants for the winter.

Our fennel had a good growth in one of the top plots. The delicate leaves are very attractive and look great between bolder looking vegetables. The combination with Sweet peas will bring a bit of colour into the beds and creates a type of cottage garden theme.

The runner and french beans in the background, growing along the black trellises are doing rather slow this year which means we will have a later harvest, probably closer to mid September.

Pic8 Fennel ‘Sweet Florence’ and Sweet peas



Last but not least few words about our Formal Flower Garden. Many visitors commented on the vibrant colours this summer and I have to say that it astonished me, too. My explanation is the sunny and warm spring we experienced. It could go back much further. I am not a biologist but it would  be interesting to analyze this topic a bit more.

Anyway, it seems like that especially the blues, reds, pinks and oranges are doing particularly well.

The summer its coming to its end and a good few  summer bedding plants started to go over. Once they are turning brown or wither we took take them out.

Beginning October we are starting to clear out the summer bedding plants and replant with spring bedding and spring bulbs.

I just sent out our bulb order, lets hope I can get all heritage varieties I am looking for.

Pic9 Amazing amount of Red Hot Poker flower heads, I counted over 30 on one plant! Surrounded by Persicaria affinis, Hydrangea serrata ‘Bluebird’ in background



Pic10 Our D-beds with an array of colours


I will be back with more news at the end of September. All the best to all gardeners and non-gardeners!


Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke



General Garden tips for September:

To sow/propagate:

~ Take cuttings of perennial Dianthus

~ Last chance to sow overwintering green manures

~ 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:

~ Hardy Lettuces like ‘Brown Winter’ or Winter Purslane,

~ Last plantings of Spring Onions, Spring Cabbages and Beetroots

~ 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 Blog July 2020

Welcome back to our mid-summer Garden Blog of the Victorian Walled Garden here in Kylemore Abbey.

July is nearly over and we are in full swing of typical high-season garden work like planting, maintaining and harvesting of Vegetables and managing the Formal Flower Garden including the Herb Garden, the Rockery, the Cut flowers or the Fern garden.

Our first vegetable sale went successful and our staff working here in Kylemore in all the different departments are happy to purchase fresh greens from the Walled Garden. All proceeds will go to the Hospice in Galway like in recent years. Cabbages, potatoes, peas,  kales, leaf beets, spring onions and onions are all part of the mixed vegetable bag for sale.

Pic1 Mixed Heritage Vegetable crate


Pic2 Freshly harvested potatoes ‘Epicure’, an old heritage potato variety  from the 19th century and spring cabbages


We had to wait few days to get a dry spell for pulling and drying the onions. I think it always looks very satisfactory when the onions are laid out.

Pic3 Onions laid out for drying


The pumpkins and courgettes are looking for a bit more heat and sunshine at the moment, too. Courgettes like the ‘Long White Bush’ below, are always doing much better then our pumpkins.

The straw will prevent the courgettes from rotting on the wet soil and also acts as a natural mulch. It is advisable to mix the straw into the soil at the end of the growing season to improve the soil structure.

Pic4 Courgette ‘Long White Bush’ on a bed of straw


Our Pineapple lilies, Eucomis bicolor,  in front of the Head Gardeners House are showing a very strong display this summer. This eye-catching bulbous perennial is an easy to grow and carefree plant when grown in a sunny and partly sheltered spot and looks well when grown in combination with African lilies for example.

Pic5 Pineapple lilies in front of the Head Gardeners House


The Flower Garden is on its peak at the moment. Strong bands of colours are in stark contrast to the green of the formal lawns. Planted in a rigid system like the Victorian did over 120 years ago, it gives you a good idea about the garden fashion back then. Whites, blues, yellows and reds are within the main colour scheme used. The setting and topography of the Walled Garden seems quite dramatic sometimes, especially on a cloudy day when the sky changes every few minutes.

Pic6 Formal Flower Garden with annual summer display



Pic7 Blue Lobelia ‘Chrystal Palace’, yellow Tagetes tenuifola and maroon and white Antirrhinum ‘Night & Day’ with a Chusab Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) as dot plant


Cannas were also favourite dot plants in Victorian times. The lushness of the leafs creates a lovely contrast to the annual summer bedding, especially the red tinged leaves of Canna iridiflora. Cannas were often used instead of Banana plants since Cannas would be more hardy but still bring a hint of a tropical feeling to the garden. The leaves of Banana plants would be shredded into pieces during stormy weather here in Kylemore.

Pic8 Summer bedding layout in the Parterre


One important part in every Victorian Walled Garden would be the Cut flower section.

We grow several types of annual, biannual and perennial Cut flowers. They are used for decorating the tables in the Abbey or the restaurant.

Pic9 Phlox, Chrysanthemums, Helichrysums, Antirrhinums, Inulas, Hemerocallis and many more



Our glasshouse is homing mainly tomatoes and cucumbers at the moment. The main propagation period for the spring bedding plants for the coming spring season will start mid to end August.

Old heritage varieties like the round and yellow cucumber ‘ Chrystal Lemon’ or ‘Vert Petit de Paris’ from 1885, a gerkin, need the heat in the glasshouse to fully develop.

Pic10 Gerkin ‘Vert Petit de Paris’



Pic11 Cucumber ‘Chrystal Lemon’, the cucumber  is the size of a tennis ball when fully grown and has a juicy and sweet flavour



Other inhabitants in our glasshouse are our two cats Jenny and Jacky. They obviously don’t like the vast space which the glasshouse presents and squeeze into the tiniest bucket. The daily watering of the glasshouse plants will normally wake them up!

Pic12 Jenny (white) and Jacky


I will be back with more news and stories from the Walled Garden in August. More gardening tips below, until then, happy gardening everybody!


Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke



Things you can do in your garden in July:

To Sow / Propagate:

~ Sow more Green Manures like Phacelia to cover plots; lovely for wildlife when flowering
~ Sow radicchio, 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:

~ Keep planting  Lettuces, Spring Onions and Raddishes

~ Replace summer bedding if necessary


To harvest:

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

To maintain & prune & feed:

~ Feeding of glasshouse plants
~ 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
~ Summer feeding of  lawns

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. 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 contents 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, therefore, 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 a 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 background


Pic2 Dianthus (Sweet William) and Gladiolus in the Ribbon Beds along the brick walls with the 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 download 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 plant to grow, 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 excited 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 winter


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 deadheading 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