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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



Garden Diary July 2017

Welcome back to this month’s Garden Diary from behind the walls of the Victorian Walled Garden of Kylemore Abbey.

Our annual student scheme, consisting of five French and German students has once again proven very successful . A weekly plant identification is part of the placement and Rob, our Supervisors enjoys the interaction when teaching the students.

Pic1 Plant ID in the formal flower garden


We had the Midland Heritage Potato Group in our garden yesterday and it was a pleasure to show them the entire garden but more importantly the heritage varieties of potatoes we grow. We had a potato seed exchange at the end of last year and the group was very interested to see how their seeds, for example ‘May Queen’ had grown out here in Connemara.  Swapping  information such as growing conditions, building up ridges or dealing with pests and diseases was another very positive outcome of this tour.

Pic2 The ‘Midland Heritage Potato Group’, July 2017


This year seems to be a very good Berry year. We grow all different types of soft fruits; one of them is Red Currant ‘Laxtons Nb.1’, an old Heritage variety dating back before 1900. The Red- and White Currants are easy growing plants and do well in our climate. We are lucky that birds don’t go for them around here; a misfortune a lot of gardeners have to deal with.

Pic3 Red Currants en mass


Pic4 Heavy crop of Gooseberries ‘Careless’

We started our ever so popular Vegetable Sale again and the most asked for crop was, as usual,  the potato. The first varieties we took out were ‘Duke of York’ and ‘Epicure’. The demand was so high that we had to pre-pack and ration the amount we had, one bag per person. We were sold out after ten minutes!

Pic5 Declan and Ulick are digging first early potatoes


Pic6 Ready for sale


Pic7 Weekly vegetable sale for our Kylemore Staff


The Flower Garden is nearly at it’s height and regular dead heading is essential at the moment to prolong the flowering season. We experienced a bit of a heat wave over the last two days. Even though we are ventilating and damping down as much as possible we still reached a temperature of 41° C. All glasshouse work was done early morning to prevent heat strokes and the shaded Fernery was on the top of the work wish list for a change!

Pic8 Formal bedding scheme with Tagetes tenuifolia and Tropaeolum ‘Empress of India’ in front of our Vinery


Pic9 The colourful Parterre at the former glasshouse complex with the Head Gardener House in background


I love the early hours during the summer month. The hazy sunshine is dipping the mountain range in a blurry light and makes the whole scene even more mystical. The picture below is actually highlighting how many trees were planted  by Mitchel Henry on the whole estate over 130 years ago, about 300 000 trees within 10 years.

Pic10 View over the Herb Garden and Vegetable Garden


That’s all the news and updates from the Walled Garden in Kylemore Abbey for the moment. Enjoy the fruits of your hard labour, it’s worth it!

Please find below the usual monthly gardening tips.

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke


Things you can do in your garden in July:

To Sow / Propagate:

~ Sow more Green Manures to cover plots
~ Take cuttings of non-flowering shoots of Fuchsia, Pelargonium and Hydrangea
~ Pot on the last of this year’s summer bedding as backup plants
~ Start to sow spring bedding like Wallflowers and Bellis for next year’s spring display  beginning August
~ Sow spring cabbages like ‘April’ or Curley Kales for over wintering

To plant:
~ Replace summer bedding if necessary
~ Plant out more catch crops like lettuces and spring onion
~ Plant squashes, pumpkins, marrows and courgettes & feed regularly

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

Garden Diary June 2017

June is coming to its end and we are right in the middle of this years summer season. The beds are filled with mainly annuals; the first summer bedding plants like Petunia integrefolia or Salvia ‘Oxford Blue’ have started to bloom. Early summer flowering bulbs like ornamental Allium christophii or Gladiolus ‘The Bride’ are on enjoying their  moment but will fade soon enough to make room for the main summer plants.

Pic1 View from the south side to the north side of the formal flower garden


Nectaroscordum siculum, the Sicilian honey garlic, would be another early summer flowering bulb. If you follow my garden blog regularly you will notice that I have mentioned this plant before; I just love its delicate look among other taller plants. It is a very reliable and long living bulb and doesn’t seem to rot in wet ground like other bulbs.

Pic2 Sicilian honey garlic beside Euphorbia mellifera (Honey spurge)


The high season has also started in our Herbaceous Border and purple, yellow and pink tones have taken over from a late spring display. Irises, Geraniums and Yellow loosestrife fill the border with vibrant colours. Gaps are filled with annuals like Tropaeolum or with biannuals like Digitalis, Verbascum or Althea. Work never ends in this border and it is important to stay on top of things like dead heading or edging.
















Pic3 Iris, Geranium and Yellow loosestrife


We did a lot of planting in our Rockery earlier this year and many of these mainly dry loving plants are in bloom right now like Campanula muralis with its intense deep mauve blossom. I hope the summer will be dry enough for these plants to settle well and also to last several seasons, a challenge we have to face every year.

Pic4 Campanula muralis

The buzz is also going on in our Vegetable garden; it is not always easy to stay on top of all the jobs which need to be done. Weeds, grass and seed heads are growing at the same speed as the vegetable plants themselves so constant checking, cutting, picking, tilling, hoeing, tying and checking for pests are on the daily task list these days. The great weather this May really encouraged  growth and  our Potatoes, Broad beans and Mangetouts are doing particularly good.

Pic5 Potato ‘British Queens’

Also our Globe Artichokes are well on schedule,a few are ready for harvesting. We would always leave a few heads on since they just look very attractive.

Pic6 Artichoke ‘Green Globe’

In between the vegetable plots we have tripods made with our own willow, where we grow heritage varieties of Sweetpeas. Our collection has about 20 varieties which were all introduced before 1901. One of the most successful would be ‘Painted Lady’, a double coloured white and pink Sweetpea. The scent always brings back memories of my German granny; the Sweetpea was her favorite flower!

Pic7 Sweetpea (Lathyrus) ‘Painted Lady’


We had lovely visitors in the garden yesterday. The pre-school class of our local creche came over to look at their newly planted trees from the National Tree planting week last March. All were exited to see that the trees have grown already and a treat of freshly picked Raspberries went down well with the boys and girls.

Pic8 The local pre-schoolers


We also gave our ever popular ‘stand-still’ sheep herd a special treatment. After an intensive body scrub and a bit of painting they are back in position at our Tea house just outside the Walled Garden.

Pic9 Our ‘easy maintenance’ sheep family (no feeding or running after needed!!!)


I will be back with more news in July, happy gardening!


Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke


Things you can do in your garden in June:

To Sow / Propagate:

~ Sow more lettuce, radishes, spinach, green manure to replace old ones

~ Second sowing of summer bedding as replacement plants like Calendulas or Tagetes

~ Take softwood cuttings of shrubs like Fuchsia


To plant:

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

~ Plant out pumpkins, marrows and courgettes; stake if necessary

~ Plant more lettuces, spring onion

~ Plant last of Herbaceous annuals and biannuals


To maintain & prune & feed:

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

~ Summer feeding of  lawns

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

~ Feed annual bedding plants and baskets every couple of weeks

~ Start to deadhead herbaceous plants regularly

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







Garden Diary May 2017

Welcome back to the May edition of the Garden Diary  for Kylemore Abbey & Garden.

We have just experienced a new record here in Connemara for late April and early May; nearly twenty days without rain. Visitors from Germany were delighted to escape the cold and wet conditions on the continent. The amazing weather let the landscape shine in all its glory !

Many plants got a head start and the blossom on the rhododendron cultivars never seemed as plentiful.  The old heritage varieties ‘Pink Perl’ and ‘Sapplo’ showed an especially fantastic display.


Pic1 Rhododendron ‘Pink Pearl’ with view to the restored Vinery


Pic2 The Head Gardener House with Rhododendron ‘Sapplo’ to the left


The dry weather also gave us a good head start in planting our summer display. The spring bedding and bulbs were taken out, bed by bed, like  in every other year, and replaced with annual summer bedding such as Tagetes tenuifolia, Alyssum, Chrysanthemum multicaule or the ever famous Lobelia in different shades. The watering of these  is essential in dry periods such as have  just experienced and we even had to set our automatic irrigation system for a couple of hours during early morning hours.

Pic3 Our garden student Clothilde, planting Alyssum in the spiral beds


Nearly all tender plants have been moved outside by now and are brightening up the former glasshouse bases . Fuchsia arborescens in particular has an abundance  of cerise pink flowers at the moment. This evergreen tree Fuchsia can grow up to 180 cm but needs to be moved inside during the winter month’s. We also use this type of Fuchsia as dot plants in our formal bedding layout throughout the flower garden.

Pic4 Fuchsia arborescens in full bloom


Our fernery is always at its best around May when most Primulas are in bloom. Different types of Candelabra primroses give a nice statement and in combination with the flowering wild garlic, blue bells, different ferns and other architectural plants like Astelia make this area in the garden  one of my favourite places around this time of year.

Pic5 Primula ‘Millers Crimson’, wild Garlic, Iris and Astelia to the right with ferns in back ground



Pic6 Primula bulleriana in combination with Camassia


Pic7 Ostrich fern (left), male ferns (right), Blue bells, Arum and Bamboo in background


The ongoing work in our Vegetable garden seems to be endless at the moment. Every day new vegetable seedlings are ready for planting like French and Runner beans, Swiss Chards or tomato plants for inside the vinery. The first lettuces are also ready for harvesting.
















Pic8 Lettuce ‘Red Winter’ and ‘Winter Density’ ready for harvest, Onions in background


The warm weather conditions were ideal for our strawberry plants and the first small fruits are already visible. Lets hope that they have a chance to ripen well. Coffee grinds will hope fully prevent the slugs from enjoying them before we get a chance to!
















Pic9 Strawberry ‘Royal Sovereign’


Chive is another versatile plant; mainly grown for the leaves. The flower heads are very useful for decoration purposes or used as edible flowers and give a lovely splash of colour to the garden. Once they finish flowering we  cut back the whole plant to the ground to let it grow on again.




















Pic10  Flowering chives


During the last few month we have gotten a lot of maintenance issues sorted. One job would have been to restore the hooks for our hanging baskets. These will need to be painted with our typical Victorian green paint before we put them up on the baskets.

Pic11 Restored galvanised hooks for the hanging baskets


Timing is crucial when running a  restored public garden like ours. I waited for about 9 month to get another prolonged dry spell to get all the outside painting jobs in the garden done. The two brothers, Hughie and Anthony, worked so effectively and quickly that they finised the many paininting jobs within a week, well done!

Pic12 Sun cream was needed!


Lets hope for the best for the coming few month; it would be a pity to turn back to the usual wet Connemara.


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 Diary February 2017

A warm welcome back to all readers of this monthly garden blog of the Walled Garden of Kylemore Abbey.

Time seems to run at an amazing speed at the moment and the weeks just  fly by. This is the time for all Head Gardeners to plan, to research, to organise, to order and to make decisions which will influence the year ahead. Its my busiest time of the year and its vital to get it right to insure a smooth running of the coming season.

It must be one of the mildest and driest winters here at the west coast of Ireland, in the heart of Connemara. The mild conditions led to an early spring display and Crocuses and Daffodils  started to flower ahead of schedule.

Pic1 Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’) in our Fernery, planted the previous autumn


Pic2 Crocuses started to flower in our Woodland and the flower garden


Pic3 Early Narcissus ‘Rip van Winkle’, an old Irish heritage Variety, planted in a Victorian urn


This fact means for us that the summer bedding should be ready for planting just a bit earlier this year to ensure a constant show of flowers. We are in the process of sorting the newly purchased seeds at the moment. Every detail like delivery dates, introduction year, seed nursery and sowing instructions will be catalogued.

Pic4 Sorting and cataloguing new seeds


I also ordered few shrubs, ferns and trees to fill gaps and add to the existing plant stock. We decided to get two new tree fern which will be planted as dots in our formal lawns, like in Victorian times. Sadly all tree ferns were lost during the harsh winter of 2010. I was hoping that they might come back but I think that 6 years are a long enough waiting period! The new tree ferns will stay in pots and will be moved into the vinery to overwinter.

Pic5 New tree ferns waiting to be planted outside


We used the winter month to tidy and paint, repair and sort out all corners of the garden, and endless job. We also made new plant supports from iron rods for our herbaceous border. These are nice and strong supports and should last several years. The rusty look works well with the fresh green of the perennials I think.

Pic6 New herbaceous supports


New growth is peeping out everywhere and the first Rhubarb stalks with a very intense red give a nice splash of colour to the Vegetable Garden.

The figs which grew already last year are very much visible on the leafless branches and look a bit odd in the middle of winter. The sheltered position on the south facing lower wall in the garden gives them a great advantage.

Pic7 New Rhubarb stalks

Pic8 Figs

We used up a good few of our endless supply of Jerusalem Artichokes. We only dig them on demand and will probably use them also raw in salads in our restaurant. They give a lovely crunchy texture to salads but need a bit of seasoning to it.

Pic9 Jerusalem Artichokes


Last year I planted a peach tree in our Vinery along the south facing wall. It just started to flower and it will be interesting to see if we get any fruits this summer.

Pic10 Peach ‘Amsden’ in our Vinery


Our garden cat ‘Cotton Jenny’ loves attention so much that she found her favourite spot just right on top of our guest book, also in the Vinery. Several remedies to prevent this happening did not work, so we have to find another solution!

Pic11 ‘Cotton Jenny’ at her prime spot


The grounds of Kylemore Abbey give great sceneries, especially during the winter month with the low sun. It can be quite spectacular driving to work with this view!

Pic12 Morning sun and low clouds in Kylemore Abbey


The old Camellia below the Abbey walls is in full bloom already. The contrast between the grey stone and the intense pink is always eye-catching.

Pic13 Flowering Camellias and Ribes below the Abbey


This is all for this month, a great garden season with all sorts of challenges and delights in front of us. Enjoy your new gardening year!

Below the usual monthly garden tips.


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

~ Powerwash all hard surfaces and treat for moss early March



Garden Diary for December 2016

Welcome back to our last garden blog for 2016.

What a year it was! The weather in the last four weeks was absolutely amazing; much better than what we had experienced the previous four month! With around 90 ml of rain this was one of the driest Novembers we have ever  had .

This frosty, sunny and very clear weather is a dream for every photographer (counting myself as only an amateur!). The colors are come out so much better with the low sun. The topography of the garden and surrounding landscape means that especially during the winter month the low sun won’t get into all parts of the garden which creates very interesting patterns. It also means that few areas are getting more ground frost then others and wont thaw at all during the day in cold spells.


Pic1 A frosty morning in the Walled Garden



Pic2 Light ground frost in the Parterre with Hemp Palm

A few plants like the subtropical Hemp Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) can withstand temperatures as low as minus 7 degrees Celsius. If we  experience colder weather then this, we would wrap them in fleece to protect in particular the base or heart of the palm.

Other tender looking plants like Fatsia japonica are even more hardy and can be left unprotected to as low as minus 12 degrees Celsius. We would never wrap ours and the frost coated leaves and flowers give a very Christmassy effect.


Pic3 Fatsia after frosty night


A few days ago we found this little Robin, or ‘Santa’s Birdy’ my four year old daughter would say, just outside our glasshouse. He probably flew against one of the many windows and was a bit knocked out. After few minutes of intensive care, which meant mainly to keep him safe from our two bold cats and few drops of water, he took off again!


 Pic4 Our little rescue friend!

The recent ground frost played an important role for the soil structure in our garden, especially in the Vegetable garden. The empty plots were dug over recently and the frost could break down the soil nicely which is very important for the next growing season. Nothing is worse then wet and compacted soil. We do as much as possible to prevent this as naturalyl as possible.

A layer of our own Farm Yard Manure was spread on the plots afterwards and  a few plots were covered with black polythene, which is not the most attractive material but will help to prevent washing out important nutrients from the soil during the coming winter month.


Pic 5 Freshly spread Farm Yard Manure



Pic 6 Black Plastic prevents washing out important nutrients in soil

All of our roses got a pruning within the last two weeks, too. A layer of compost and manure around the base of the roses will protect and feed at the same time.

I also planted two ‘new’ old heritage varieties of roses in one of the formal beds ( Bourbon rose ‘Boule de Neige’ from 1867 and the Gallica rose ‘Belle de Crecy’ from mid 19th century). Six plants of each variety should cover the circle bed nicely in the coming season. When you plant roses it is important to plant the grafting point below the soil level to protect it.


Pic 7 Rose bed after pruning


Visitors and non-gardeners always ask us what we  do during the winter period, well here is the answer: Our main jobs at the moment are  mainly of cutting back perennials, roses and overgrown shrubs, taking out invasive plants, dividing herbs and perennials,  preparing beds for the next year, improving drainage, tidying and cleaning corners which were left unattended during the busy season, tidying the glasshouses etc. etc..  There is no shortage of work and maybe we will be lucky this winter and get a bit more of the recent weather conditions!

I wish all my readers a very Happy Christmas and all gardeners a well earned rest. I will be back with more news from the Walled Garden of Kylemore Abbey in February 2017. Below are few more images of the last two weeks and also the usual gardening tips.

Nollaig Shona Dhaoibh!


Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke



20161123_091035Pic8 Parterre with view to Diamond Hill


20161123_090920Pic9 Verbena rigida after a frosty night


20161123_091156Pic10 Frosted Georgian red brick


20161123_091236Pic11 Victorian planter with Forget-me-nots


20161123_092658Pic12 View from the Herb Garden



Pic13 Kale ‘Black Tuskany’


20161123_093339_001 Pic14 View over the North Slope after sun rise


20161126_094352Pic15 Side entrance into the Vegetable Garden



Pic16 View over the Vegetable Garden


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

~ 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:
~ Plant bar-rooted roses and fruit trees
~ Plant and divide herbaceous in borders and herbs
~ Plant bare-rooted trees and hedges to replace old or dead ones

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

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Start winter pruning of Apple & Pear trees
~ After flowering prune deciduous trees and shrubs for a balanced shape
~ 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