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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



Garden Diary for November 2016

Welcome back to our second last edition of the garden blog for the Victorian Walled Garden of Kylemore Abbey for this year.

Our recent Halloween event within the garden walls went very well; the amazing weather on this day played a huge role. The theme for this year was a Traditional Village Halloween like many hundred years ago. We had some outside activities like carving Turnip lanterns with Old Jack, a sing song and brush dancing in front of the old tool shed or fortune telling using saucers with wise Ann outside the Vinery . The traditional ‘Colcannon’ dish, made with spuds and Curley kale and homemade Brack were served by Molly in our Head Gardeners House.

20161030_122943Pic1 ‘Old Jack’ is carving lanterns out of Turnips


20161030_133910Pic2 The ‘Old Cailleach’ or wise woman is protecting brave Erin from evil spirits like traditionally done many hundred years ago.


I also built an insect hotel in our woodland with the visiting children and all names of the participants are written on a board on top of the hotel . It was great fun to see so many kids of all ages eager to play their little part in designing a cosy winter home for bugs and co. .

20161030_142634Pic3 The Insect Hotel is finished!


A Bonfire outside the garden walls finished this special event and the fairy tree with all charms, tied on earlier by the children, was burned to let all wishes come true. This Bonfire was originally a symbol to welcome the new Celtic Year!

20161030_160613Pic4 The Bonfire is finishing the Halloween event


The dry autumn weather made it possible to plant all spring bedding and bulbs in record time; it made this annual process very enjoyable and an easy task this year. I remember well that we had to plant in full rain gear during hurricane like weather conditions last autumn!

20161018_095528Pic5 Tilling the beds after topdressing with our own compost


20161018_121031Pic6 Planting out Myosotis (Forget-me-nots)


There are still plenty of crops in the vegetable garden. Empty plots will be covered soon either with Seaweed or plastic to prevent washing out of the soil during the winter months. We are still amazed at the size of our Cabbages this year and will leave them in as long as possible. Also our Carrots are still lovely and are getting harvested bit by bit.

20161026_144509Pic7 The Head Gardener beside our huge Cabbages ( I am 172cm tall!)

  A few flowers are still hanging on and refusing to accept the end of the season for example this lovely Althea nigra which we tried for the first time this year.

20161026_144147Pic8 Althea nigra still in full bloom


Finally there is no end of the leaves falling in sight giving lots of special work to our gardeners and maintenance crew! Saying so they really gave a special autumn feeling this year. We blow them off paths and lawns but leave them in our woodland and the fernery to root down.


Pic9 Leaves on a seat in our fernery


Now, that’s all for this month and I hope we will experience another few nice  weeks heading up to Christmas. Below are a few gardening tips for this month as usual.


Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke


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

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

To plant:

~ 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
~ 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 2016

During the last two weeks we have experienced a pleasant and unexpected spell of lovely autumn weather; hazy sunshine let the autumn colours on trees and the surrounding landscape glow in warm tones and it was easy to accept the end of this years main season. Off-seasons can be very delightful when experienced under ‘proper conditions’!


Pic1 View over the Herb and Vegetable Garden with the Diamond Hill to the right



















Pic2 The Mausoleum ‘tucked in’ under a canopy of trees

Most summer bedding plants are coming to an end, but a good few are still hanging in there and visitors are surprised at the late colour within the Walled Garden. Saying that, it is this time of year where we start to take the annual display out and replant spring bedding plants and bulbs. All summer bedding will go straight on our compost heaps where they rot down during a period of about nine months. A feed of powdered Seaweed, our own Comfrey and regular watering will speed up the rotting process. This years compost is exceptionally good, we did not even have to sieve it. The dark humus can be incorporated into the soil straight away which makes the planting of small spring bedding plants very easy.


















Pic3 A still colourful autumn display in early October in the Formal Flower Garden

















Pic4 Summer Bedding comes out and goes straight onto the  compost heap


Pic5 Fresh Compost is incorporated into beds before planting


Pic 6: Spring bulbs in our Bothy and waiting to be planted, a net prevents mice attacks


This year was a very good one for apples in contrast to last year where we hardly had any.  Our new Orchard where we only grow Irish Heritage varieties did particularly well. The nicest one would be the variety ‘Valentine’ (Not because of the name!). The flesh is very juicy and not too sweet. ‘Valentine’ must have gotten its name from the colour of the skin, though!


Pic7 Apple ‘Valentine’ ready to be picked


Pic8 Crab Apples are also ready for harvesting


We sadly lost our 18 year old cat Gadafy in August this year. She was part of the garden for so many years and it was not easy to see her go. Saying this, she was a great age for an outside cat! She must have caught thousands of mice in her life time. Gadafy was the last of our three original cats from restoration times, so we felt we have to give some other cats a new home instead.

So, Jacky and Jenny, both animal rescue cats,  joined our team recently and they are best friends already. They also stay on top of their daily duties and keep the mice population down as much as possible!


Pic9 Jacky (left) & Jenny; I also call them Yin & Yang, even so the black is male and not negative at all!


That’s all the news from the Walled Garden for now.


Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke


Jobs you can do in your own garden in October:

To Sow or Propagate

~ Freshly picked seeds of perennials

~ Semi-ripe cuttings of shrubs

~ Pot on pot pound plants into next size pots and feed


To Plant

~ Hedges, Fruit trees and bushes

~ Spring bedding and bulbs


To Harvest

~ Everything what’s still out there!

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

~ Leave crops like Turnips or Leeks in ground for another while, can even overwinter if wanted


To Maintain

~ Autumn feed lawns, scarify if moss is bad

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

~ Power wash slippery surfaces

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





Garden Diary September 2016

Welcome back to the September edition of our garden Blog / Diary.

The weather could not have been more extreme within the last 36 hours.

Torrential rainfalls which resulted in heavy floods and in lakes coming over roads and walk ways changed hands with the most beautiful calm and sunny autumn weather one can only imagine. Visitors to our area could witness and film quite dramatic scenes within the last few days! Thankfully  Kylemore Abbey & Garden escaped bad damages; one horse chestnut gave in and lots of debris and leaves everywhere but it could have been worse. Nearly exactly one year ago we had even worse floods with over 95 ml of rain. So lets focuses on the sunny side of the Walled Garden of Kylemore.

The early autum display in the Formal Flower Garden is nice and strong at the moment. Shades of yellow, oranges, reds and blues are dominating in between the lush green of the formal lawns.




Pic1 Red Hot Pokers, Lobelia & Bistort near the East Gate to Garden


20160907_171713 Pic 2 View over to the Vinery


Finally our tomatoes ripened and are ready for harvesting. These old varieties are all grown inside our restored Vinery where they get the most amount of heat and sun. The plants would never stand a chance outside in the elements. We are propagating a selection of old heritage varieties like the huge beef-tomato ‘Brandy-wine’, dating back to ca. 1880 or the smaller type ‘Yellow-Pear’ tomato which is grown for its unusual shape and colour.

20160908_132445 Pic3 Beef-Tomato ‘Brandy-wine’, from around 1880


20160908_132533 Pic4  ‘Pear-Shaped Tomato, from around 1850


We have a good crop of climbing and French beans this year. The need to be picked every few days to avoid getting to stringy. If you want to harvest your own seeds of beans you could leave the pods on much longer, until beans are fully grown. We always keep a selection of our own bean seeds for the coming season. Below is a selection of few of the varieties we are growing this year. The purple one will turn green when cooked, so don’t expect purple French beans on your plate!

20160909_094325 Pic5 Left: Runner bean ‘Painted Lady’, Middle: French Bean ‘Cosse Violet’,

Right: Climbing French Bean ‘Blue Lake Stringless’

These varieties are also all old heritage varieties, ‘Painted Lady’ is even dating back to the 17th century!


Our indoor Peach tree ‘Amsden June’; planted this spring on the south facing wall inside our vinery had a good seasonal growth. I started to fan-train this years shoots along bamboo sticks. This needs to be repeated with new shoots annually until the desired wall space is filled. We might have a first crop of peaches next year?

20160908_132635Pic6 Peach tree ‘Amsden June’


Just opposite the peach tree, right along the curved windows are our vines. The grapes are just ripening and disappearing on the lower brunches  mysteriously more every day!

20160908_132610 Pic7 Grape ‘Black Hambourgh’


We had and still have a lovely bunch of students this year. They are doing an internship with us and are mainly horticultural students or landscape architects. Wet days are mainly used for propagating seeds, potting on plants or the maintenance of our glasshouses. To give them a new challenge we decided to enter the era of ‘Insect hotels’. You can see them nearly in every garden by now, so the students took on the task and came up with this charming structure below. They used only leftover pieces of timber, bricks and bamboo sticks. We still have to find a proper spot for it in our vegetable garden. Well done students!



That will be all for this month garden diary, please find below the monthly garden tips as usual.

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke


Garden tips for your own garden for September / Beginning October:

To sow/propagate:

~ Pot on more spring bedding plants like Wall flowers

~ Propagate shrubs from semi ripe cuttings

~ Sow overwintering green manure like ‘Landsberger Mix’ in vegetable plots


To plant:

~ Plant or pot on shrubs or perennials left in pots

~ Last crop of Lettuces, Spring Onions or Spring Cabbages

~ New 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

~ Seeds of desired plants like


To maintain & prune & feed:

~ Start to blow leaves of lawns regulary

~ Pick up fallen fruits, they will only attract rodents

~ Moss treat and scarify lawns

~ Prune summer fruiting Raspberries, Gooseberries and Currants

Garden Diary June 2016

Welcome back to our June edition of the garden blog of the Victorian Walled Garden in Kylemore.

What  fantastic weather we have had here in the west of Ireland in the last three weeks. The heat and overnight irrigation let all plants including the vegetables jump and double in size. The heat also encouraged the first blossoms of our summer bedding to open up. It feels like we are right in the middle of the summer season already. I  have to admit that the rain during the last two days was quite welcome….something only gardeners and farmers will understand !

Pic1 Shamrock beds

Pic1 Shamrock beds with a mixture of summer and late spring flowering plants


Pic2 Snake beds

Pic2 Snake beds with early summer colour of Tropaeolum ‘Empress of India’


Pic3 South Slope

Pic3 View from south slope over to the former glasshouse complex

There are also nice early summer flowering shrubs in bloom at the moment. Weigelia, Philadelphus, Deutzia or Cotoneaster are a few of the  shrubs you could consider if you are looking for colour in your border at this time of year.

Pic4 Philadelphus coronarius

Pic4 Philadelphus coronaries


Pic5 Weigela coraeensis korean weigela

Pic5 Weigelia coaeensis


Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’, positioned on the polls at the parterre, has huge flower heads this year but the blossom is not as intense as in other years and seems more white then pink. It might be due to the hot spell during the last weeks. I find it very interesting to see how the plants behaviour is adapting to different climates.

Pic6Clematis 'Nelly Moser'

Pic6 Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’

This behaviour is also very noticeable in the Vegetable garden this season. As mentioned in the May edition already the Brassica plot is just exploding and for once our newly planted Courgettes and Marrows don’t look too battered from heavy rain falls and cold conditions. The Mangetouts, Peas and Broad beans have plenty of flowers and will soon produce the first crop. Also our first early potatoes like ‘Champion’ are well on the way and promise a good yield. The first harvest of different Lettuce varieties was used in our restaurant for salads.

Pic7 Mangetouts and Marrows

Pic7 Mangetouts & Peas


Pic8 'Monster' Cabbages

Pic8 ‘Monster’ Cabbages


Pic9 Potato 'Champion'

Pic9 Potato ‘Champion’

There are not many empty spaces left in our Herbaceous Border; a few annuals like Tropaeolum or biennials like Verbascum, Digitalis or Althea still need to be planted. The climbing roses in the border are flowering quite early this season so early deadheading will be important.

Pic10 HB Dianthus and Geranium

Pic10 HB Dianthus and Geranium


Pic11 Rose 'Blue Magenta'

Pic11 Rose ‘Bleu Magenta’


Pic12 Iris before opening up

Pic12 Iris flower before opening up

It is one of our busiest times of the year; so much is happening in every corner of the garden and I have to admit that it is a challenge to stay on top of it. There is no long term planning possible at the moment since the weather and priorities change daily, even hourly! High visitor numbers are greatly welcomed but also create few challenges in itself. Noisy machinery work like hedge trimming needs to be done in the mornings which restricts us a bit in finishing jobs on the same day.

Let’s hope the recent summer conditions return soon and we are able to keep working on our gardeners ‘tan’.

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke


Things you can do in your garden in June:

To Sow / Propagate:

~ Thin out carrots and parsnips, put net up against carrot fly

~ Sow more lettuce, radishes, spinach, green manure

~ Take softwood cuttings of shrubs like Fuchsia


To plant:

~ Plant out pumpkins, marrows and courgettes

~ Plant more lettuces, spring onion

~Plant last of Herbaceous annuals and biannuals


To maintain & prune & feed:

~ Summer feed lawns

~ Thin out vines / grapes and feed

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

~ Feed annual bedding plants and baskets

~ Start to deadhead herbaceous plants regularly

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



Garden Diary May 2016

The summer has landed…well, at least for the last two weeks. The much needed heat finally brought all the spring bulbs out into full bloom. The colour scheme this spring was mainly based on a red, white, dark pink and yellow colour scheme.
Tulip ‘Van der Neer’, Bellis ‘Carpet White’ and Tulip ‘Colour Cardinal’ were the strongest varieties this spring. We also planted a new heritage variety of Scilla in our Herbaceous Border for early colour and Scilla peruviana, dating back to 1753, worked out well and looked very delicate in between other herbaceous plants.


Pic1 Tulip ‘Van der Neer’ in the Parterre


Pic2 Tulip ‘Colour Cardinal’ in front of the Vinery



Pic3 Scilla peruviana

The very wet conditions which we experienced last winter and spring did not help with the full development of the annual spring bedding plants like Forget-me-nots or our wall flowers. The Forget-me-nots in particular were unfortunately lacking in flower abundance compared to other years. But there you go, a gardeners job is always very challenging and never the same. Adaptation is a key element in a successful gardener’s life cycle.
Our summer bedding plants are well on the way and a few were already planted into their final positions. Calendula ‘Orange King’, an old heritage variety dating back to the 19th century, is one of the best and easiest growing summer annuals. I am planning to make my own Calendula hand cream this year, using the flower petals of this variety and of the common one, Calendula officinalis. Well, at least that’s the plan, the same one I already had last year….

admin-ajax                                                     Pic 4 Calendula officinalis in between Cabbage ‘Red Drumhead’ in 2015


Pic5-Fresh-Seaweed-on-out-Brassica-plot-1024x576                                                                   Pic5  Fresh Seaweed on out Brassica plot


Pic6-New-lettuce-plants-mulched-with-coffee-ground-hardly-visible-1024x576                                                            Pic  6 New lettuce plants mulched with coffee ground (hardly visible)
May is always the busiest time of the year in our garden. Taking out spring plants; drying, cleaning and storing the bulbs; replanting the summer bedding on mass into exact locations; cultivating the whole vegetable garden; starting to trim our hedges like Buxus, Escallonia, Fuchsia and Acer; sowing and potting on, weeding…the list is endless. Sometimes, especially on a rainy day there is no end in sight. This year we tried out a few alternative methods to keep pests like slugs or the cabbage root fly under control. A heavy layer of fresh seaweed, spread in between the new Cabbage plants will hopefully do the trick to keep the root fly away. I know that the use of seaweed is an ancient tradition, especially around here in Connemara but we haven’t used fresh seaweed for a long time within the garden walls. Going through very old Horticultural books I came across an article about the threaded cabbage root fly, which will result in loss of your Cabbage plants through eating of the roots. You only notice the damage when it is too late and the plant is withered. The positive side effect of the seaweed application is the natural fertilizing of the plants. We have not seen our seedlings as big and healthy for many years; despite the wet and cold spring.


Pic7 Vegetable Garden in full swing

We also started to use coffee grounds around fresh seedlings, vegetables and bedding, to keep the slugs away. I always heard about this remedy but never thought it would work out so successfully. We have a daily supply of new coffee grounds from our Teahouse outside the garden walls, so we actually use a side product which would be normally dumped, as slug control and again as a fertilizer. The results are phenomenol! Our usage of slug pellets was reduced by 2/3.


Pic8 Flowering Azaleas

That’s all for now, I am back with more news next month!
Your Head Gardener
Anja Gohlke

Things you can do in your garden in May:

To Sow / Propagate:
~ Sow Carrots and Parsnips
~ Sow more radish and lettuces
~ Take softwood and non-flowering cuttings of Fuchsia and Pelargonium
~ Take softwood cuttings of shrubs

To plant:
~ Start to plant out summer bedding in final position and protect against slugs (try coffee ground)
~ Transfer leeks outside into final position
~ Plant Tagetes and Calendula as companion plants between your crops to attract beneficial insects

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Aerate and sand lawns if not done earlier

~ Trim formal hedges of Buxus, Fuchsia or Escallonia and feed them
~ Dead head flowers of spring bulbs like Tulips for strong flower displays next year
~ Watering of new crops and bedding is essential in dry periods
~ Put up supports on taller perennials, broad beans and sweet peas
~ Prune spring flowering shrubs like Weigelia or Forsythia after finishing flowering

Garden diary April 2016

When I drove to work in the Walled Garden this morning I almost expected to hear Christmas songs on the car radio! A heavy shower of snow made the driving quite challenging even though it melted straight away. The deep hanging clouds created very dramatic scenery over the mountain range surrounding Kylemore. I had to stop few times to capture this very unusual weather spectacle.

Pic1 View from the garden to the mountain range minutes after it stopped snowing
Pic1 View from the garden to the mountain range minutes after it stopped snowing

I went straight to our outside thermometer which is located on the back wall of the vinery; 0°Celcius is not unusual for our region during the winter months but definitely for the beginning of April!

Pic2 It’s cold!
Pic2 It’s cold!

Everybody is wondering how much these cold conditions will affect the growing season this summer. One thing is for sure, it will be a late season in my estimation.
It was one of the best early spring times for the daffodils so far; I can’t remember the flower display lasting for such a long time before.
Our tulips on the other side have a very late start this spring. Our early flowering tulip varieties like Tulip ‘Peach Blossom’ have just started to open up their buds. The later varieties were already in full bloom same time around last year.

Pic3 First display of Tulip ‘Peach Blossom’
Pic3 First display of Tulip ‘Peach Blossom’

A Darwin Hybrid mix was planted just outside the main restaurant last October and came up nicely along the sheltering wall. These early to mid-spring single flowering tulips can grow up to 60 cm and are great as Cut flowers. Unfortunately we can’t use them within the garden walls since the mixed varieties would not have been introduced before 1901.

Pic4 Tulip ‘Darwin Hybrid Mix’
Pic4 Tulip ‘Darwin Hybrid Mix’

The Fritillaries gave a good show this spring and added much needed colour to the flower garden at the moment. The most common species would be Fritillaria imperialis or commonly known as Crown Imperial. The huge flower heads are visible from far away but are very heavy and the up to one meter tall stalk needs to be staked in our climate. Slugs also love them so a bit of work has to go into them to ensure to have a successful display. Give the plants a good feed before they die off so the bulb stores enough energy for the next season. We normally dig up the bulbs after the stem and leaves died off to prevent them rotting in the ground.

Pic5 Fritillaria imperialis ‘Aurora’
Pic5 Fritillaria imperialis ‘Aurora’

A more unusual species would be Fritillaria persica, the Persian lily. This very attractive bulbous plant would flower at the same time as the Crown Imperial and has plum-purple to grey-green bell shaped flowers. It has to be one of my top three spring plants at the moment. The growing requirements would be the same and worth a try. They work well in mixed taller plantings of tulips or daffodil’s or just on its own in mass plantings.

Pic6 Fritillaria persica
Pic6 Fritillaria persica

Our newly planted lettuces won’t like the recent cold and wet spell. One of the earliest and hardier varieties to sow is Lettuce ‘Red Winter’. We might have to re-sow few varieties to make sure we have enough plants for all plots.

Pic7 First Lettuce planting with an interplanting off spring onions
Pic7 First Lettuce planting with an interplanting off spring onions

The coming week will be used to plant up our second potato plot with ‘British Queens’. The ridges are already marked out and topped with a layer of well-rotted manure.
The climbing supports for our peas are also up and the next dry day will be used to plant out the seedlings which were propagated beforehand in our glasshouse. All fruit trees got a sprinkle of Potash around the base of the plants.
The strawberry plants which we planted in terracotta pots inside the vinery are starting to develop nice sets of leaves. It will be interesting to see the differences to the plants which were planted outside about two weeks ago.

Forced Strawberry plant
Forced Strawberry plant

Last but not least we hosted another successful Easter Egg Hunt within the garden walls on Easter Sunday. We were very lucky with the weather once again (against all the odds!) and had over 300 girls and boys trying to solve clues from ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Everybody was greeted by the ‘real’ Alice in the Head Gardeners House and the rather scary looking ‘Queen of Heart’ gave a lasting impression in the decorated vinery. Parents were busy taking pictures in special designed photo locations. My youngest daughter had great fun posing in different shapes and sizes.

Pic 9 The beginning of Alice’s Easter Egg Hunt
Pic 9 The beginning of Alice’s Easter Egg Hunt
Pic 10 The ‘Queen of heart’ in our Vinery
Pic 10 The ‘Queen of heart’ in our Vinery


Garden Diary March 2016

‘Time to sow, time to grow, time to plant … we are in one of the busiest times of the year again.
This very pleasant dry weather was so needed in the garden to dry up the wet soil and to prepare the first ridges for the first early potatoes and broad beans. Both were planted the day before St. Patricks day.

Pic1 Potatoes ready for planting
Pic1 Potatoes ready for planting
Pic2 Planting first early potatoes ‘Duke of York’, ‘Epicure’, ‘Sharps Express’, ‘Champion’
Pic2 Planting first early potatoes ‘Duke of York’, ‘Epicure’, ‘Sharps Express’, ‘Champion’
Pic3 Staked Broad bean ‘Bunyards Exhibition’
Pic3 Staked Broad bean ‘Bunyards Exhibition’

Also the onion sets, the shallots and the garlic were planted in readymade plots within the last few days.
The plots were rotovated and levelled off before planting started.
We were also held our fourth tree planting week on the second week in March. Once again all local schools and the crèche came over to plant mainly native trees like Sessile Oak or Silver Birch. This is always a great day out for the kids and they are really looking forward to check on the growth from last years planted trees. A small treat for everybody at the end of each session with homemade goodies in our restaurant rounds off the trip.

Pic4 Kids from Letterfrack National School  school planting a Horse chestnut
Pic4 Kids from Letterfrack National School school planting a Horse chestnut
Pic5 Mission completed – ‘The girls’ planting group from Lettergesh National School
Pic5 Mission completed – ‘The girls’ planting group from Lettergesh National School

The spring show started in the formal flower garden and the sun is just helping the buds to open fully up.
Different types of Daffodils like ‘Rip van Winkle’ or ‘Butter & Nuts’, both old Heritage varieties, are brightening up the Parterre at the moment. Also our Hyacinth ‘Ann Marie’ is showing its light pink flowering dress just in front of the Vinery. The Tulips are a bit slower this spring, but might be nearly ready to flower when Easter comes around. Forget-me-nots and Wallflowers are still holding back and will create a late spring display.

Pic6 Narcissus ‘Rip van Winkle’
Pic6 Narcissus ‘Rip van Winkle’
Pic7 Hyacinth ‘Ann Marie’
Pic7 Hyacinth ‘Ann Marie’
Pic8 Spring display in the Parterre
Pic8 Spring display in the Parterre

Many shrubs are starting to open up their leaf buds, a very exciting time I think. The buds and small leaves have their own distinctive look on each plant and show very interesting details like the Cercidiphyllum japonicum, known as the Katsura tree.

Pic9 Young leaves of the Katsura tree
Pic9 Young leaves of the Katsura tree

Our Bothy, a Scottish name for small cottage, is getting a new layer of paint within the next few days and a new set of lights to brighten up the quite dark interior.

Pic10 Inside our Bothy
Pic10 Inside our Bothy
Pic11 A happy swan family!
Pic11 A happy swan family!

Enjoy the great spring weather which is ideal for every gardener!
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