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Garden Blog June 2018

The summer is landed; landed with the full force here in the Victorian Walled Garden of Kylemore Abbey. The temperatures are creeping up to 30 degrees in the shade and it is close to 40 degrees in the glasshouses. The essential watering is done on a automatic system from 4 am onward. By the time the garden opens to the public at 9 am nearly every corner got enough water to last the day. Saying this, all plants in trays, pots and the glasshouses need hourly watering and regular damping down! We are quite lucky here since we get out water from a deep lake on top of the mountain behind the garden.

Pic1 It is hot!

 

The heat in combination with the regular watering lets the plants thrive. The plots in the Vegetable Garden are covered nicely and the first Mangetouts, Courgettes and lovely sweet Strawberries are ready for harvesting.

The potatoes had a slow start this season and the first early spuds are still two to three weeks away from harvesting.

Pic2 Brassica Plot with Cabbage ‘Red Drumhead’ in the front

 

 

 

Pic3 The first early potato plot with ‘Sharps Express’, Diamond Hill in the background

 

Our broad beans are very late this year, too. We normally harvest them before the Mangetouts. That will show you once again how unpredictable seasons can be.

Pic4 Broadbeans and Lettuce ‘Continuety’, Tagetes as companion planting

 

The heat in the Vinery is nearly unbearable without sufficient ventilation and moisture. But the effect on the plants is immense in these tropical conditions. It  looks like a mini jungle at the moment and the grapes are well on their way.

Pic5 A lush jungle in the Vinery

 

 

  

Pic6 Passiflora caerulea, Passion flower in the Vinery

 

The herbaceous border is lovely at the moment. Shades of yellows, whites, blues and reds are the main colours. The flowers of Hosta sieboldiana is particularly nice and a show stop. The whitish blossom goes well with the blue-grey foliage. The dry spell keeps luckily the slugs away, too. The leaves of Hostas would be one of their favorites.

 

Pic7 Hosta sieboldiana

 

Pic8 Digitalis ambigua – the Yellow Foxglove

 

It must be one of the best years for roses. Talking to other gardeners confirmed our experience. The size of the rose blossoms and the abundance seems to be twice as big as in a ‘normal’ year. Few of our old garden roses from Victorian times struggled in previous years but have a healthy growth this season.

Pic9 Rose ‘Irene Watts’, a double China rose dating back to 1896

 

Pic10 Rose ‘Boule de Neige’, a strongly scented Bourbon rose from 1867

 

The Rockery shows a splash of colour, too at the moment. Low growing perennials, bulbs and shrubs fill the graveled areas between the natural rocks.

Pic11 The Rockery in June

 

Strong colours of purples, oranges and blues together with different grey tones are dominating in the Parterre. Dot plants like Trachycarpus and Phoenix palms grow in the center of the beds. Our big Monkey Puzzle tree in the center of the parterre is nearly too big as a dot plant and will be transplanted into a new position coming autumn where it can grow into a proper tree.

Pic12 Parterre beds with Monkey Puzzle tree as centre piece

Lets hope this fantastic weather will last for another while, maybe with a bit of rain during the night times!

Enjoy your own garden or the gardens around you!

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in June:

To Sow / Propagate:

~ Continues sowing of  spring onions, lettuces, spinach, leaf beets

~ Re-sowing of summer bedding as replacement plants like Nasturtiums, Calendulas or Tagetes

~ Take softwood cuttings of shrubs like Fuchsia

 

To plant:

~ Plant pumpkins, marrows and courgettes; put straw around plants

~ Plant potted plants into final positions, feed and water well

~ Plant out more lettuces, spring onion, spinach

 

 

To maintain & prune & feed:

~ Early morning watering of new crops and bedding is essential in dry periods

~ Prune shrubs after finishing flowering (Deutzia, Weigelia…)

~ Summer feeding of  lawns but only when watered in afterwards

~ Start to deadhead herbaceous plants and annuals regularly

~ Look out for caterpillars, green or black flyes and signs of blight

Garden Blog May 2018

A ‘happy gardening’ welcome back to all our readers. We have hit our busiest time of year and planning each day  is crucial at the moment. Thousands of bedding plants, vegetables, cut flowers, herbs, rockery plants and herbaceous are waiting to be planted into their final positions. All of the sudden the weather is picking up and its quite warm, even hot during the day.

The last of the spring flowers are been taken out at the moment; despite the cold and wet spring we had a nice display which lasted a good few weeks. The picture below shows our Parterre still planted with spring bulbs and bedding from few days ago. The heavy rain a few weekends ago beheaded most Tulips and we were left with a rather sad display.

Pic1 The Parterre with Tulip ‘Peach Blossom’, Forget-me-nots and Bellis

 

We set up a display in our Vinery to inform the curious visitors about the many different spring flowers . This will be changed and updated with flowers in season regularly.

Pic2 Seasonal display of flowering plants like Tulips, Wallflowers or Fritillarias in our own Kylemore pottery made on site

 

Pic3 Tulip ‘Greenland’, a non Victorian newer variety outside the Walled Garden in front of the former Chaplains house; it’s a fantastic long lasting and tall Tulip which looks great in combination with the Buxus and the painted green window frames

 

Now is an important time for the ‘in between’ plants or early summer flowering plants. These will carry the flowering display over to the summer season. Perennials like Ajuga reptans, Centaurea montana or Camassias, Alliums and early flowering Lillies play an important role in our garden.

Pic4 Flowering Ajuga reptans (Blue Bugle) in our Vinery beds

 

Pic5 Cammasia cusickii (Quamash or Indian hyacinth) just opening up in the Herbaceous Border

 

Also the shrub border has plenty on offer at the moment. Some early flowering shrubs like Kerria japonica have finished by now and should be cut back. Others like Syringa (Lilac), Weigelia or Lamium, one of my favourite ground-cover plants, have taking over now. And not to forget Azaleas and Rhododendren cultivars of cause. They play a vital role in many woodland gardens throughout Ireland and England.

When you plan Borders make sure there is always interest throughout the year, achieved through flowers, the colour and texture of leaves or the winter colour of the bark.

Pic6 Flowering Lamium galeobdolon (Yellow archangel) as groundcover in our shrubborder

 

 

Pic7 Weigelia middendorffiana, a lovely pale yellow variety of Weigelias

 

Pic8 Syringa vulgaris ‘Charles Joly’ – Lilac

 

Pic9 Azalea ‘Norma’ in front of the Head Gardeners House

 

So what is happening in the Vegetable Garden at the moment?

We eventually finished the painstaking work of putting up all supports for the Broadbeans, Peas, Mangetouts and for the Climbing Runner and French Beans. The bamboo canes for the supports for the Runners need to be tied with a very strong wire in order to withstand the storms we experience sometimes. We spent a bit of time this yearo building permanent supports for the Broadbeans and peas so we can easily  dismantle and re-use them next year again.

Pic10 Bamboo canes for the Climbing Beans

 

The Brassica plot is doing well; the cover of fresh Seaweed kept the Cabbage rootfly away so far and is feeding the hungry plants at the same time. It seems to be also a curiosity to many visitors who never seen Seaweed before.

Pic11 Fresh Seaweed on Cabbages and Kales

 

The fruit trees seem to have an unusual amount of blossom this year. The Crab apples are like white clouds bordering the Vegetable garden and the pears and cherries are not short of blossom, too. I also noticed a good few bees around so hopefully we will have a good crop for harvesting.

Pic12 Apple blossom a few days before opening ; note the different types of  lichens which look amazing

 

Pic13 Our oldest apple tree ‘Golden Spire’ which is approximately 60 years old

 

Pic14 Fan trained Pear trees along the brick wall to the east of the garden

 

The Head Gardeners House is getting a new layer of paint at the moment and we are planing a small exhibition with botanical paintings from the garden by different artists.  The former Head Gardener, living and working in the house had a fantastic view from the house and could see every corner of the garden since the trees were only small back then. There was no ‘hiding’! Below is his work desk as it might had been back then.

Pic 15 Desk in office of former Head Gardeners House

 

Lets hope the summer will stay with us a bit longer, even so we are under pressure to get the watering of the many plants done every day!

I will be back with more news in June.

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in May:

To Sow / Propagate:
~ Sow Carrots and Parsnips (end May to avoid Carrot fly)
~ Succession sowing of radishes and lettuces

~ Pot on more annuals as backup plants
~ Take softwood and non-flowering cuttings of Fuchsia and Pelargonium
~ Take softwood cuttings of shrubs

To plant:

~ Plant out potted plants to prevent pot bound
~ Start to plant out summer bedding in final position and protect against slugs (try coffee ground)
~ Plant beans, chards and kales into final positions
~ Plant Tagetes and Calendula as companion plants between your crops to attract beneficial insects

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Water plants and lawns well in dry spells, mainly in mornings or evenings

~ Prune spring flowering shrubs like Weigelia or Forsythia after finishing flowering

~ Trim formal hedges of Buxus, Fuchsia or Escallonia and feed them
~ Take out spring bulbs for usage in different spots for coming season
~ Put up supports on taller perennials, broad beans and sweet peas

 

 

Garden Blog April 2018

Welcome back to our April edition of our garden blog.

Finally there is a hint of spring in the air. Like many other businesses dealing with mother nature like farmers or nurseries, we also suffered a bit under the endless lasting cold and wet conditions. The weather just did not allow us to move seedlings outside to be hardened off and were piling up inside the glasshouse. Every corner was used for seed trays and the watering of the same took a bit of maneuvering.  Thankfully our new set of coldframes is finally in full working order and makes a huge difference in getting the small plants to the next stage. Bee and Co must be hungry at this stage and they will have a nice feast in our woodland behind the Fernery where the Wood Anemones and Lesser Celandine are creating a lovely spring carpet theme at the moment.

 

 

Pic1 Our new coldframes in front of the propagation glasshouse

 

Pic2 Vegetable seedlings like Lettuces, Cabbages and Kales in the coldframe for hardening off

 

Pic3 Wood Anemones and Lesser Celandine in our woodland behind the Fernery

 

Pic4 Fritillaria meleagris, Narcissus ‘Rip van Winkle’ and Narcissus canaliculatus in the Ribbon beds

 

The busy time in the Vegetable garden also kicked off. The first early potatoes like ‘Epicure’ or ‘May Queen’ were planted four weeks ago and the ‘British Queen’ are getting planted coming week.

Pic5 Ulick is preparing the ridges for the first earlies

 

The time is flying as usual and we had a very busy time within the last four weeks. On top of our ‘normal’ garden work we were also holding two big events.

The first one was our annual Easter Egg Hunt. Close to 500 children and their families came to look for all the hidden eggs and bunnies along the Easter trail. As part of the the trail we had a naming competition for our two Kunekune pigs. They had a name already from the previous owner so we felled they deserved a second one. We picked the names from all the lovely entries (few were quite ‘unusual’!); so we can now re-introduce to you  ‘Gloria Summer’ and ‘Ken Scamper’.

Pic6 Gloria Summer (left) and Ken Scamper (right)

 

Pic7 Our new ‘Pig Sty’ sign

 

Our second event was the Kylemore Abbey Food Village as part of the Galway – West of Ireland Food Charter. County Galway was the European Region of Gastronomy 2018 this year and we were holding a full day of gastronomy related events and local producers here on the whole estate of Kylemore. Also the Walled Garden played a big role and local businesses and organisations like the Connemara Bee society had a stand with a hive of live bees for example.

Pic8 Members of the Connemara Bee Society

Sally and John McKenna and myself did a guided walk through the garden for visitors with a herbal tea tasting at the end. Freshly harvested Sage, Thyme, Mint and Lemon Balm were on offer and many went for a ‘herbal cocktail’ (Non alcoholic of cause!).

Pic9 Sally Mc Kenna (right) and myself at the Herbal Tea tasting

There was also a bit of baking and jam making going on in our Head Gardeners House and Heike, our local basket maker presented her skills outside the former Tool shed.

Pic10 Heike with her selection of self-made baskets

 

We were very fortunate with the weather and Ann Cassin from Nationwide, the crew from Week on the Farm and Galway Bay FM were here that day to capture the event.

 

You can see that a Head Gardeners Job can be very multi-faceted, which makes our job so interesting and I can truly say that it is never boring!

With that note I will finish for today, please find below few more images of our Easter Egg Hunt and the usual monthly garden tips.

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

 

 

 Pic11 Little bird houses in our woodland play area

 

Pic12 Easter Bunnies on a day out

 

Pic13 Flying bunnies in our Vinery

 

Things you can do in your garden in April:

To Sow / Propagate:
~ Sow Pumpkins and Courgettes

~ Succession sowing of radishes and lettuces

~ Pot on more annuals as backup plants

To plant:

~ Plant out rooted Strawberry runners if weather allows it
~ Plant Lettuces, Cabbages, Kales, Spring Onions, Peas, Broad beans
~ Divide and plant Herbaceous perennials before main growth starts

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Moss treat, aerate or scarify lawns, especially after the recent wet winter

~ Feed all fruits with pot ash

~ Put up supports on taller perennials, broad beans and sweet peas

Garden Blog March 2018

Our spring garden season is well on its way, even so it was partly disrupted by severe weather conditions we and the whole of Ireland experienced two weeks ago. We  would normally be the last place to get snow but this time we were lucky or should we say unlucky,too. The garden had to be closed for three days since the garden paths were not visible anymore and the whole garden looked like a white blanket. Quite stunning to look at I have to say. But the snow was not the real problem; the freezing temperatures going down to minus 6 played a bigger role. These late frosts are creatinga  few issues with early seedlings and the budding of fruit bushes. On the other hand low temperatures are important for the soil structure. Once we knew there was frost on the way we started to dig over the vegetable  plots. The dry spells in between also helped and the plots got a nice preparation for the coming season. We also mixed well rotted manure into the plots for improving the level of nutrients.

Pic1 Our coldframes are covered under a foot of snow

 

                                                                                                    Pic2 The Walled Garden under a white blanket

 

Pic 3 Crocus ‘King of Striped’ nestled in snow

 

Pic4 Frozen Waterfall in Kylemore

 

Pic5 The thaw after the big freeze

 

Pi c6 Jenny found a heated spot in one of our propagation boxes – to our dismay

 

Pic7 Freshly dug over plot in our vegetable garden

 

But few days of sun and warmer soil made the spring come back and the daffodils and Hyacinths jumped. The other spring bedding like Forget-me-not or Wallflowers are still behind and will probably only flower in two or three weeks time; all weather depending of cause!

Pic8 Narcissus ‘King Alfred’

 

Pic9 Hyacinth ‘Ann Mary’

 

I mentioned our seedlings earlier on. The propagation of the thousands of seeds still had to go ahead, despite the cold conditions. So once again our glasshouse is filled with little seedlings of vegetables and annual summer bedding. A good few seedlings like Calendulas, Cabbages or Tagetes are already big enough to be pricked out and potted on into bigger trays. Our space in the glasshouse is limited and warmer weather is needed very soon so we are able to move the many trays into our coldframes.

Pic10 Seedlings on mass

 

We just finished pruning all pear and apple trees, a time consuming job which should be done every winter. Diseased wood should be cut out and last years growth cut back by half, to an outer facing bud.

Our garden students Anna and Veronika had also a go; these are one of the experiences they get during their placement here in Kylemore Garden.

Pic11 Pruned Wall pear trees

 

Pic12 Anna & Veronika pruning an apple tree

 

 

 

It is also time to think about sowing the first potatoes. In order to do this they need to be put into light for budding about four weeks before planting. This process is called ‘chitting’.

Pic13 Chitting first early potatoes

 

And once again we were holding our annual tree planting week which is taking place during the first week in March.

All local national schools and our local creche took part again and planted native Oak and Birch trees. Especially for the creche it is a very special event and it is a pleasure to see the three to four year old children planting proudly their first trees.

Pic14 Our local creche children are planting a tree

 

We also had another rather unusual event last week. We received our first pigs since they used to keep them at the farm back in the old days. These two very unusual looking Kune Kune pigs, an old heritage breed originating in New Zealand from the 19th century, will add to our customer experience at the Victorian Walled Garden. They will be kept for show and not for the plate! The pigs use the lovely old Herdsman Bothy as they home with a grazing garden outside. Especially children will be amassed by the different looks, very unlike Peppa Pig! We will have a naming competition for the children attending the Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday.

                                                                                                                                     Pic15  Arrival of our two Kune Kune pigs

 

Enjoy your spring garden!

Your Head Gardener
Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in March

To Sow / Propagate:
~ Sow first early potatoes as soon as soil is warming up
~ Move vegetable seedlings of Lettuce, Radish and  Kale into cold frames to be hardened off
~ Continue sowing summer bedding plants and prick out when big enough
~ First sowing of green manure
~ Take cuttings of non-flowering shoots of Pelargonium or Fuchsia

To plant:
~ Plant Broad beans and stake well
~ Plant onions, shallots, garlic
~ Last chance to plant bare- rooted trees (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:
~ Service all garden machinery before first use
~ Sharpen edging shears regularly
~ Cut back Willow hard for later use as supports, baskets etc.; grade and store in cool place
~ 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

 

 

Garden Blog for February 2018

Welcome back to our monthly garden blog from the Walled Garden of Kylemore Abbey for 2018.

The official start of the Irish spring time only happened on the Calender this year. We experienced very cold conditions in the last few days with sleet, hail and even a bit of snow. That will put a hold on our annual spring display, many Bellis, Daffodils and Crocuses have started to bloom already. Saying this, it is also a lovely time to take pictures with a sprinkle of snow in it, especially around here where snow is rather rare.

Pic1 Melting snow on our new set of cold frames in front of the propagation glasshouse

Talking about snow, the first snowdrops are flowering nicely in the fernery once again. They are really the sign that the new garden season has began. We did a lot of work in the fernery this winter.A few stronger growing ferns like Blechnum chilense, the Chilean hard fern, overgrew smaller varieties and needed to be reduced.

Also, to our surprise one of our treeferns which we thought we had lost during the big freeze in 2010 produced a lovely healthy looking side shoot which we did not noticed for a long time. So a garden can be full of suprises.

Pic2 Snowdrops in the fernery

 

Pic3 View from the bridge into the fernery

 

The Vegetable Garden is still in hibernation mode. The ground is very wet and crops like Curley Kale, Chard or Spring Cabbage which stayed in the plots during the winter montsh are holding the soil together.

It is time to put the first seed potatoes for sprouting into the light. Another month and its time to plant the first early ones. We spread ours on trays in the tunnel. That will give them enough light to sprout. ‘Epicure’, Duke of York’, ‘May Queen’ and ‘Sharps Express’ will be the first ones going out.

We also started our yearly marathon of seed sowing. The first vegetable seeds like Spring Onions ‘White Lisbon’, different Cabbages and  Lettuces were sown in our propagation glasshouse. More will follow from now on every week until the glasshouse is packed with seed trays.

Like every year the Rhubarb is putting out its first tender stalks already. The crowns are still protected by a layer of rotted manure so the recent frost won’t do them any harm.

Pic4 First Rhubarb stalks covered with snow

 

I ordered a variety of old Rhododendren varieties a while ago and we planted them into the woodland inside the garden and also into a new planting area outside our main east gate. These varieties like Rhododendron falconeri or Rhododendron grande originate in Bhutan, China or Nepal and were introduced to Europe by the great botanist,plant hunter and explorer Joseph Dalton Hooker in 1850. Hooker went to the Himalayas for a plant expedition for three years and brought back many different Rhododendren varieties, especially from the Sikkim valley. His story is quite fascinating and it is great to be able to still buy these plants nowadays. So hopefully our newly planted Rhododendron will soon flower as nicely as one of our other old hybrids last May, Rhododendron ‘Pink Pearl’, dating back to 1897.

Pic5 Rhododdendron ‘Pink Perl’ last May

 

There are plenty of other jobs which still need to be done at this time of year.

We are in the middle of pruning all Apple and Pear trees. A slow enough job since the Pear trees are trained as Espaliers along the garden walls and need special attention when it comes down to pruning.

The wild Rhododendron (ponticum) clearing is slowly coming to its end for this winter. We managed to clear a big area on the mountain side on the way over to the restored Gothic Church. The now exposed trees and mountain streams are lovely to look at and let somebody imagine the original layout of the estate before the Rhododendren took over.

Pic6 Cleared woodland on Kylemore estate

 

Below are the usual monthly garden tips and few more images of Kylemore in winter (‘spring’!).

 

Pic 7 View from Formal Flower Garden to Diamond Hill early morning

 

Pic 8 View over Pollacappul Lake

 

Pic 8 Our little friends!

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in February/beginning March:

To Sow / Propagate:

~ Start to sow summer bedding and vegetables seeds in modules indoor

~ Chit first early potatoes like ‘Epicure’, ‘Duke of York’ or ‘Sharps Express’

~ Pot on and feed potted plants

 

To plant:

~ Plant new shrubs or groundcover plants in borders

~ Perfect time to plant bare-rooted fruit trees or hedges

~ Continue to lift, divide and replant herbaceous plants

~ Transfer and plant Snowdrops after flowering

 

To harvest:

~ Last of Leeks, Spinach, Parsnips, Curley Kale, Jerusalem Artichokes

To maintain & prune & feed:

~ Prune shrubs like Buddleia back hard

~ Fertilize soft fruits, roses and vine plants with well-rotted Farm Yard Manure

~ Maintain, sharpen and repair tools etc., clean pots and trays

~ Prepare ridges in vegetable garden for first crops end of the month

~ Lawns could get first cut on high setting if ground is suitable and not too wet or frozen

~ Power wash all hard surfaces and treat for moss early March

Garden Diary December 2017

A warm welcome back to our last Garden Blog for this year. I have just browsed through last years December blog and it was quite interesting to see that the cold spell started nearly on the exact same day. Heavy hail showers battled our little spring bedding plants in the beds but no major damage was done. The biggest threat to the many planted spring bulbs is actually  from birds at the moment. A daily inspection of the beds shows that many bulbs are getting taken out ‘very neatly’. One of the challenges a gardener has to face!

Pic1 Spring bedding in a frosty grip

 

Now is a good time to transplant herbaceous plants. Its a very time consuming job but also very rewarding since you are reproducing your own plants for nearly nothing! Today I started to divide and replant Phlomis russeliana, commonly known as Turkish sage. The root system is very neat and a fork can easily split bigger clumps without damaging the plant itself.

Pic2 Dividing Russian Sage

 

The list of winter jobs can be endless,  and time is running by very quickly . Before we know it, it will be time to order and sow next years crops. Right now every day is  being used to cut back old growth and to clear overgrown areas and to transplant perennials and shrubs and to update data bases  etc..

The Herbaceous Border is nearly cut back and a fresh layer of our own compost will cover and feed the soil and plants and prepare the border for the coming season.

Pic3 The Herbaceous Border in mid winter – the south-facing side is getting much less sun then the north-facing side

 

All plots without any crops left were covered with black plastic again, like every year. This technique proves very successful in our garden and a layer of seaweed or rotted farm yard manure will slowly break down and feed the plot under the plastic. The result is a lovely rich and dark soil which is so important in a Vegetable Garden.

Pic4 Rob and Bobby covering a plot

 

Pic5 Declan digging in green manure before covering the plot

 

Most plots would are still covered with all types of crops like leeks, leaf beets, spring cabbages or parsnip. They are used up bit by bit until the next growing season starts.

Pic6 Leeks and Leaf Beets

 

Pic7 The curly Parsley is still lovely green and used by our chefs

 

All the tender plants were moved inside a couple of weeks ago and enjoy a warmer climate in the heated glasshouses. The gauge is set on a low temperature of about 6 to 8 degrees Celsius since our tender plants are not used to tropical heat. A daily aerating of the glasshouses is vital to avoid fungus, mould and green flies. It is lovely to see that our Strelitzia in the Vinery is flowering the second time this year. It seems to be the right conditions for the plant.

Pic8 Strelitzia – ‘Bird of Paradise’ in bloom at the moment

 

This time of year is also the time we tackle our extensive Rhododendron problem here in Kylemore! We cleared a lot on the lower ground along the estate avenues in recent years and new tree saplings have finally a chance to develop into nice trees. A recent purchased wood chipper makes the whole process more manageable and the chips will be either be spread straight back into the woodland or used as a light cover on borders.

Pic9 Rhododendron clearing

 

The Christmas feeling  has really kicked in here in Kylemore Abbey and all the facilities around the estate are decorated in a festive manor. The dining room in our Head Gardeners House is set up for the Christmas dinner and the baking preparations are on the way in the kitchen next door.

It is a special time of year and I love to stroll through the old buildings; after all these years it still feels very unique!

Pic9 The dining room in the Head Gardener House

 

Pic10 Ready for baking Christmas treats!

 

Pic11 A bit of decoration in the Workmen’s Bothy

 

When I walked up to the Abbey yesterday I had to capture this moment. It is very rare to see snow here in Connemara and the contrast with the Cordyline tree in the front seems quite spectacular!

 

I wish all my readers a warm Christmas and a good start into the New Year. It will be interesting to see what the new season will bring.

I will be back with News from the Victorian Walled Garden in February 2018.

Nollaig Shona Duit!

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

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

~ Grafting of apples etc.

~ Start to sow first vegetables like lettuce indoor in modules
~ Sow first Garlic outside in suit if ground suitable
~ Grafting of apples etc.

To plant:
~ Divide and replant herbaceous plants

~ Plant bar-rooted roses and fruit trees when danger of ground frost is gone
~ Order & plant bare-rooted trees and hedges

To harvest:
~ Last of Carrots and Parsnips
~ Leeks, Spinach or Leafbeet

~ Curley Kale

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Winter pruning of Apple & Pear trees
~ Prune climbing roses by half
~ Clean and tidy potting sheds, tool sheds, propagation trays, pots etc.
~ 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

 

 

Garden Diary November 2017

Welcome back to a quite blustery November Garden Blog. September and October went by and our hopes for lovely autumn weather this year were unfortunately not fulfilled. Just looking out the window in my garden office this minute I can see and hear scrolls of wind and rain passing by; some of them can be quite frightening, especially when working in the glasshouse. We were very lucky that the recent Hurricane did not affect us as much as many other areas in Ireland. Saying this, we had and could have similar conditions any time from now on.

Our annual Halloween event went very well again this year. Despite  misty rain the event was well attended and everybody assembled at the end of the day for the procession to the Bon fire outside the garden walls. A bit of traditional Sea Nós dancing and few tunes on the Feadóg by local musicians Shona and Katie and a nice cup of hot chocolate made it very cosy around the blazing fire.

 

Pic1 Katie and Shona, our local Musicians and Sea Nós dancers

 

Pic2 The carved Turnip guarding the Bonfire

 

We also opened up a new natural wild play area just beside the Tea house outside the garden walls on this day. Nestled within the woodland this play area offers everything for  children’s fantasy play. They can build they own little stick shelters, find the many fairy doors placed around in this secret place or cook a lovely mud pie. Imaginary play is want we wanted to achieve and so far the visiting children have great fun.

Pic3 The entrance to our new Wild Play Zone in the woodland

Part of our very traditional and natural Halloween event would be teaching children methods like building shelters for insects or how to place and hang up bat boxes which we did this year. Four bat boxes went up in our woodland area inside the garden. All boxes were named by the children on the day so ‘Boxy Box’ or ‘Flappy Box’ are waiting for their new inhabitants at the moment. Saying this it can take up to three years before the bats will find these new homes. The boxes are attached to trees up four meters high.

Pic4 The first of four bat boxes  going up in the misty rain

Similar to last years event we had our Wise Woman back in the Bothy,  handing out charms, herbs and boiled potatoes as part of the ceremony to our small and big visitors.

Pic5 The wise woman during the ceremony

 

The garden work is still going strong these days. The last trimming of a few hedges like our Fuchsia magelanica which is framing the natural stream just took place. Tender hedges should not be cut back much later then the end of October.

Pic6 The natural stream  with the framing Fuchsia hedge

We are in the middle of the bulb planting in the Formal Flower Garden and sorting and counting each day the bulbs we need for the following days of planting. We are talking about a couple of thousand bulbs each year. It feels a bit like a treasure hunt and a few bulbs miraculously always disappear, either to mice or to the Bothy ghost. I would say the first possibility is more likely though! The bulbs are stored in the former garden Bothy until planting time in late autumn.

 

Pic7 Bulb storage in the former Bothy

When we get lovely weather around here it must be one of the nicest landscapes in Ireland and we are reminded once again why Connemara is so special. The walk along Maladrolaun lake which  leads to the Walled Garden is spectacular with the Diamond Hill in the background.

Pic8 Maladrolaun lake with view to the Diamond hill

The mushroom foraging time is slowly coming to its end. The edible ones are lovely but not as plentiful as the poison ones around here. Saying this they can look very attractive on dead tree stumps like below.

Pic9 Fungi on an old tree stump

 

This winter we are holding several winter work shops here in Kylemore. I am doing a Gardening Masterclass on four dates, the first one starting this Saturday. There are still spaces left and more information like dates and the online booking are on our webpage. The classes will go on for 2.5 hours and will cover winter pruning techniques, taking cuttings, general winter gardening jobs and spring preparations. The costs of €30.00 will include the entrance fee and a coffee break with fresh homemade scones in our tea house.

 

Now, that’s all for this month. It would be nice to meet and speak to few of my blog readers at the garden work shop.

If you come bring the sun!

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in November:

To Sow / Propagate:

~Try to sow more spring onion, will succeed in mild weather

~ Take cuttings of soft fruits like Currants or  Raspberries
~ Propagate rhubarb by division and replant immediately

To plant:

~ Plant out herbaceous plants left sitting in pots

~ Plant bare-rooted roses immediately after receiving order, water in well
~ Order and plant bare-rooted trees, shrubs and hedges; until the end of February

To harvest:
~ Any vegetables left in ground like spinach, leaf beet, carrots, parsnips, cabbages
~ Curley Kale after first frost idealy
~ Last of apples and pears, check storage for rotten ones on a regular base

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Tidy lawns of leaves to avoid rotting
~ Power wash surfaces to prevent slippery surfaces
~ Feed spring cabbages with own liquid comfrey

 

Garden Diary for October 2017

This month diary I would like to start with a note about our garden fauna.

Walking through the garden does not always mean only looking at the plants but also looking out for our local wildlife.  I came across this lovely couple of Red Admiral butterflies a few days ago. Now, I am not an expert on butterflies and have to admit that I had to look up the name. They had a great feast on the pink flowering Sedum, there were many more on other plants, too.

Pic1 Butterflies ‘Red Admiral’ on Sedum spec. ‘Brilliant’

 

When I pruned  our Morello Cherry wall trees last month I had to climb up all the way to the top of the garden wall. The fauna up there seemed completely different to the one at ground level; even the woodlice living in the cracks of the lime stone wall looked unusual to me.

The most unusual creature I spotted was this Stick Caterpillar, hardly noticeable when crawling along the bamboo stick. It camouflaged itself so perfectly that I almost mistook it for a little stick, until it started to move!

Pic2 The ever hungry ‘Stick Caterpillar’

 

Sitting on a leaf of one of our Sweet Cherry trees was this beautiful example of a Dragonfly, a Common Hawker to my knowledge. They are quite impressive when you see and hear them buzzing around. The size was about the length of a hand.

Pic3 Dragonfly on Sweet Cherry tree

 

Going back to the pruning of the Morello Cherry or Sour Cherry it is important to know that they only fruit on last years growth. So when pruning don’t cut out this years growth in order to have fruits the following season. Cherry trees like all stone fruit trees such as Plums or Peach trees should be pruned during the summer months to avoid the Silverleaf disease. Pruning wall fruits needs a bit of practice and is quite labour intensive. All shoots should be tied to the frame work at the wall in order to keep or establish the desired shape. Bamboo sticks can be very handy to achieve this and it is a natural product which will just rot away after a couple of years.

We also started to trim our Escallonia hedge along the Herbaceous Border very hard. The hedge grew too wide within the last few years and it started to overgrow and squeeze the herbaceous plants in the back row. It looks drastic but the hedge will soon green up again.

Pic4 The Escallonia hedge after trimming

 

Now is a good time to take semi ripe cuttings of different types of shrubs. We took cuttings of Hydrangeas, Fuchsias, Pelargoniums, different herbs like Rosmary or Sage and Hebes, like the one below. The lower part of this Hebe x franziskiana was trimmed into shape and the cut offs used as cuttings at the same time. It is the cheapest way to produce new plants from your own source and very rewarding when succesful.

 

Pic5 Clipped Hebe

 

The picture below does not show our Halloween preparations but the cuttings we took recently. We  keep them under plastic bags to keep the air moist. We found this way the most successful in order for the cuttings to root.

Pic6 Wrapped cuttings

 

We also started to clear out the summer bedding and replant the formal beds with spring bedding plants like Wallflowers, Forget me nots or Bellis. All plants taken out are going straight onto our compost heaps where they will rot down within the next 9 months.

Pic7 Bed clearing and preparation for the coming spring

 

Autumn time does not mean that there are no flowers anymore. One of them which just opened up recently is the Amaryllis, a typical Christmas flower, mainly grown indoor. This particular one spend many years in our Subtropical Border without flowering but finally showed its lovely blossom for the first time last year. Sometimes it is worth while to wait just a bit longer!

Pic8 Amaryllis Flower

 

I will be back with more news from the Victorian Walled Garden in Kylemore Abbey in November. In the mean time good gardening to everybody!

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

 

Garden Diary September 2017

The main season is coming to its end and today we held the last Vegetable sale for this year. The carrots had a good crop and the fleece cover prevented the dreaded carrot fly from doing its damage, so far! Also the last of the potatoes were dug yesterday. ‘Pink Fir Apple’, ‘Black Bog’, ‘Ratte’ and ‘White Champion’ were among the heritage varieties we took out. Potato ‘Pink Fir Apple’ performed as the best main crop for this season. It is a lovely waxy salad potato with a slight nutty taste, dating back to 1850. This particular variety is still easy to buy as seed potatoes, even though it is an old heritage variety.

Pic1 Carrot ‘Chantenay’

 

Pic2 Potato ‘Pink Fir Apple’

 

Pic3 Ulick cleaning ridges after digging spuds

 

Pic4 French Bean ‘Cosse Violett’ ready for harvesting

 

Our oldest apple tree ‘Golden Spire’, at least sixty year old,  is heavily laden with fruits this year. This tree was planted by the Benedictine Nuns during the time the garden started to grew wild in the 1950s. The Formal Flower Garden lost its former glory back then and apple trees were planted into the big lawn areas instead. The Vegetable Garden was continued as a productive garden in most parts to provide vegetables and fruits for the community.

Pic5 Apple ‘Golden Spire’

 

Each year I try to source new varieties of heritage vegetables, dating back to the 19th century. Tomato ‘Pineapple’ would be one of these varieties, originally introduced around 1894 in France. The huge fruits can weigh up to 1kg and have a lovely rich, sweet and fruity flavour with a hint of pineapple in it.

Pic6 Tomato ‘Pineapple’

 

Our peach tree ‘Amsden June’, which is in its second growing season  in our Vinery put on a massive growth this year. The tree is trained fan shaped along the back wall where it has enough space to grow. The summer pruning and training along bamboo canes is essential to keep the shape of the tree as desired. Hopefully we will be able to harvest our first crop next year.

Pic7 Peach tree ‘Amsden June’

 

Our indoor grapes also did quite well this year and we were able to harvest a good few bunches of  the dark ‘Black Hamburgh’ and the green ‘Buckland Sweetwater’ varieties.

Pic8 Indoor grape vines

 

Our annual student scheme is coming slowly to its end for this year. We had a great bunch of mainly French students but also German, Polish and Irish and they had and still have an important impact on our daily garden routine. Noelie and Lucie, both Agricultural students from France, were doing an experiment in our propagation glasshouse recently. They propagated cuttings of different shrubs and perennials like Fuchsia, Hydrangea or Persicaria under different growing conditions. The outcome will be also very interesting for us and if viable will be adopted.

Pic9  Noelie and Lucie during their propagation experiment

 

There is still a good show of colour in our Formal Flower Garden, even so, last nights storm tested it.  The spring bedding seedlings are getting potted on at the moment and will replace the summer bedding in roughly a months time. We also started to cut down herbaceous perennials which flowered earlier in the season.

Pic10 A colourful array in the Parterre

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

 

Garden tips for your own garden for September:

To sow/propagate:

~ Last chance to sow green manure

~ Continue potting on spring bedding plants like Wallflowers

~ Propagate shrubs from semi ripe cuttings

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

 

To plant:

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

~ 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

 

 

To maintain & prune & feed:

~ Blow leaves of lawns regularly

~ Pick up fallen fruits, they will only attract rodents

~ Moss treat and scarify lawns

~ Prune summer fruiting Raspberries, Gooseberries and Currants

Garden diary August 2017

August is one of the main month where every gardener can reap the fruits of the hard labour from the past seven month. Wherever you go or look there is always something to pick or to scent or to take pictures of. Its a lovely time of the year and for once you think you did everything to ensure the season is going well. A recent comment on trip adviser from a visitor made our day; our garden was classified as “the best place in Ireland”! Well, I am not sure about the ‘whole of Ireland’  but it definitely is a great praise to get! I also think that, for once we are lucky with the weather here in Connemara. Mixed days between sunshine and light rain are not the worst and have their benefits. Much better then the boiling heat wave in Spain, France and Portugal.

Pic1 Summer display in the Parterre with Antirrhinum ‘Brighton Rock’ to the front

 

Pic2 Maroon Cannas, blue Lobelias, red Salvias and white Lavateras – a very typical Victorian summer bedding scheme

 

Few of our subtropical plants like Hedychium (Ginger Lily), Agapanthus (African Lily) or Eucomis bicolour (Pineapple Lily) are on its high at the moment and bring a bit of a tropical feeling into our garden. Since our climate here at the Atlantic coast line is mild during the winter all of these plants can be left outside. This gives the advantage that the roots of the plants can establish much better when left in suit.

Pic3 Eucomis bicolour – Ginger Lily

 

Pic4 Agapanthus africanus – African Lily

 

Our weekly Vegetable sale is going well, all ‘British Queen’ potatoes were harvested and sold the following day; a lovely floury variety most people would know around here. The Cabbages and Kales are nearly fully grown, a homemade feed of liquid Comfrey brew will make the newly planted spring cabbages jump. You need to have strong nerves or a peg on your nose when spreading this liquid fertilizer but at least its natural and it works!

Pic5 Potatoes ‘British Queens’ ready for sale

 

Pic6 Brassica plot with a mixture of Cabbages and Kales

 

Pic7 The first of the Courgettes and Marrows are ready

 

Another old Heritage Vegetable which is hardly known around here is the Asparagus pea. A very unusual looking plant which belongs to the legume family. It has lovely red flowers and the frilled seed pods, which taste like a mix of Asparagus and Peas are crunchy in salads and even treated as gourmet food nowadays. A heritage vegetable with a strong comeback, easy to grow from seed!

Pic8 Asparagus Pea

 

One of our hidden corners in the garden is situated at the top of the garden in our Rockery. Its a lovely stone seat, nestled in between the natural lime stone area. I remember planting up the rockery many years ago (15?) with all types of different plants; it took quite a long time to fully cover this rather difficult planting area. The mix between alkaline and acid soil pockets created one problem, another one was the combination of very dry and very wet areas. Typical Rockery plants did not do well and it took few trials and errors to overcome this challenge. Below is a picture of one successful plant, Erigeron karvinskianus.

Pic9 The stone seat in the Rockery

 

Below the usual monthly tips, enjoy the rest of the summer season!

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in August:
To Sow / Propagate:
~ Start to sow spring bedding for next year like Bellis, Forgetmenots, Stocks
~ Take cuttings of non flowering shoots of Fuchsia, Pelargonium and Hydrangea
~ Last sowings of overwintering crops like leaf beet, beetroot, mizuna

To plant:
~ Plant out more catch crops like lettuce and spring onion
~ Plant out shrubs or perennials left in pots

To harvest:
~ Onions, Garlic
~ Courgettes and Marrows
~ Last of Potatoes
~ Lettuce, Spinach, Leaf beet, Cabbage, Kale
~ Plums

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Dead head summer bedding and herbaceous plants once a week
~ Cut back bolting vegetables like Spinach, Leaf beet, Kales etc.
~ Prune summer fruiting raspberries (cut out this year’s fruiting stems, leave new shoots)
~ Summer pruning of apples and pears, especially wall fruits
~ Pruning of Plums and Cherries (Don’t prune in winter to avoid silver leaf disease)
~ Clear first leaves of lawns and paths