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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’!

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

 

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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.

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

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

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Pic5 Fresh Compost is incorporated into beds before planting

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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!

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Pic7 Apple ‘Valentine’ ready to be picked

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Pic1 Tulip ‘Van der Neer’ in the Parterre

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Pic2 Tulip ‘Colour Cardinal’ in front of the Vinery

 

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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.

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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-1024x576
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

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Garden Diary March 2016

‘Time to sow, time to grow, time to plant …..here 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

Garden Diary for February 2016

Welcome back to our new 2016 series of the Garden Blog of the Victorian Walled Garden in Kylemore Abbey & Garden.

I was very excited when driving to Kylemore this morning. The sun was out and put such a lovely gleam over the Connemara landscape and the mountains surrounding Kylemore that I had to stop, jump out the car and take my first picture of the season.

 Pic1 Early morning sun over Maladrolaun Lake on the Kylemore Estate.

Pic1 Early morning sun over Maladrolaun Lake on the Kylemore Estate.

It was also the first time this winter that the ground was frozen. This late frost will help to break the soil and to reduce pest and diseases hopefully. I always liked to take pictures in very cold weather since the frost creates such interesting patterns on plants and rocks.

Pic2 Frost in the Rockery
Pic2 Frost in the Rockery
Pic3 Sun inside the Walled Garden
Pic3 Sun inside the Walled Garden

This was nearly impossible in the last 6 weeks; or I should rather say the past three month! A daily rain water check showed a total of 350 ml for the month of January; it  rained 31 days non-stop. The ground was so wet and water logged that unfortunately the roots of a few of our old original trees like the Monterey Cypress could not hold on anymore.

As soon as the soggy soil  allows  us we are out to tackle few early garden jobs like taking out old crops from the previous season, to top dress all soft fruits with our own rotted manure or to mow the lawns. The growth never stopped over the last few months and the grass needed an early cut on a higher setting.

Pic4 Black Currants with a layer of rotted manure
Pic4 Black Currants with a layer of rotted manure

A Few vegetable plots are still covered in black plastic to prevent washing out important nutrients. They will be uncovered as needed. A layer of Farm Yard Manure which was put onto it before it was covered will break down nicely without any disturbance.

Pic5 Covered Vegetable plots
Pic5 Covered Vegetable plots

Wet days are used to sow the first Vegetable and flower seeds like Spring Onions, Cabbages and Tagetes. We also started to chit the first early potatoes, which means putting them into light with the eyes up so they can start to sprout. If everything goes well they should be planted out around Saint Patrick’s day. The weather will hopefully allow us to build up the ridges by then.

Pic6 Chitting first early potato ‘Epicure’
Pic6 Chitting first early potato ‘Epicure’

Our Rhubarb is well advanced and I hope that last night’s frost won’t do it any harm. Early growth can have it’s disadvantages and could affect plants for the rest of the year.

 Pic7 Early Rubarb beside traditional forcing clay pot

Pic7 Early Rubarb beside traditional forcing clay pot

Our first spring flowers like snow drops and Crocus are out but also struggle in the very unsettled weather. The blossom of the Crocuses are especially affected by wind and rain and are not lasting as long as usual.

Pic8 Snopdrops –Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Plena’
Pic8 Snopdrops –Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Plena’
Pic9 Crocus ‘King of Striped’
Pic9 Crocus ‘King of Striped’

Recently we found a tiny guest in our glasshouse in our newly installed Belfast sink; the nosy little mouse was trapped in it and could not get out by itself. Even so we would not like to see mice near our glasshouse since they can do a lot of damage to seeds and plants, this one was very cute and we rescued it and moved it away as far as possible so the traps won’t get it!

Pic10 A guest at play
Pic10 A guest at play

I hope the spring season will be a pleasant one for everybody, with plenty of work to do!

Please find below my usual garden tips for February.

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in February

 

To Sow / Propagate:

~ Finishing crafting apple trees at the end of the month

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

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

 

To plant:

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

~ Continue to lift, divide and replant herbaceous plants

~ Transfer and plant Snowdrops after flowering

~ Order and plant bare-rooted roses

 

To harvest:

~ Last of Leeks, Spinach, Parsnips, Curley Kale, Jerusalem Artichokes (lift roots)
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 December 2015

Welcome to our last garden blog for 2015.
We celebrated a very special occasion in the garden on the last day of November; the 15th anniversary since reopening the garden to the public. The planting of a Cornus controversa commonly known as the Wedding Cake tree opened the event and marked this special day. The very decorative shrub was planted by Frank, one of our long term gardeners who also finished his career within Kylemore garden the same day. Frank was for nearly twenty years an important member of staff in the gardens and will be missed a lot. We wish him all the best.

Pic1 Frank planting the Tree
Pic1 Frank planting the Tree

We also unveiled a new sign at our glasshouse complex to give more information about the original layout of the twenty-one glasshouses. More will hopefully follow within the next year. It is always a bit of a challenge for our visitors to picture the former arrangement of all these glasshouses so the signs will hopefully add to the visitor experience.

Pic2 New sign
Pic2 New sign

Following a brief guided tour through the garden , we enjoyed a reception in our Teahouse were Sr. Magdalena and Sr. Benedict were presented a special commemoration plat, made by our potter Mary in our pottery on site with the famous Fuchsia design. Sr. Magdalena and Sr. Benedict were the main driving forces behind the restoration of the Walled Garden twenty years ago, when restoration started. The garden staff were also given a framed black and white picture of the garden, taken from an angle which looked very similar to one of the original pictures from around 1880. UTV Ireland did some filming on the day and broadcast the same night.

Pic3 Sr. Magdalena giving a speech
Pic3 Sr. Magdalena giving a speech
Pic4 I presented Dolores, our Assistant Head Gardener (to the left) with her picture
Pic4 I presented Dolores, our Assistant Head Gardener (to the left) with her picture

I have to thank Eithne again for organising the event so well. We are all proud that the Victorian Walled Garden in Kylemore Abbey counts now as one of the top Gardens in Ireland.

Pic5 The framed picture of the flower garden in 2015
Pic5 The framed picture of the flower garden in 2015
Pic6 Original Black and White picture around 1890
Pic6 Original Black and White picture around 1890

I shave seen many changes within the last ten years. The changes of weather meant looking for new Heritage varieties dating back to pre-1901 times. Also many original trees fell in recent years and replacements are planted every winter as part of the National Tree planting week. The Vegetable Garden has also seen a few changes. Since we are not getting any government funding, grants or employment schemes like FAS anymore, we had to scale down the size of the vegetable plots to keep on top of the garden and make it more manageable for us. We are still growing all Heritage varieties of crops on a four year rotation system but not on a grand scale like in Victorian times. I was just in contact with a garden group in County Offaly which contacted me about Heritage varieties of Potatoes. So we were happy to exchange two very old ones, ‘Shamrock’ and ‘May Queen’.

Pic7 Heritage varieties of potatoes
Pic7 Heritage varieties of potatoes

Garden Diary for November 2015

What a lovely autumn weather for our Halloween midterm break we had; up until last week!
Young and old could enjoy our first ever Halloween trail; consisting of scarecrows, witches, fairies and arty pieces, all made by local artists, Youthreach and also children from our local scouts club.
Eithne, our Marketing Assistant did a fantastic job on designing the trail and setting it up in all the different locations within the main garden area. I am sure she even dreamed about few pieces…! The trail was well received and it will hopefully happen again next year.

Below are a few of my favourite pieces:

Pic1  ‘The unhappy Gardener’
Pic1 ‘The unhappy Gardener’

 

Pic2 ‘Scarecrows resting!’
Pic2 ‘Scarecrows resting!’
Pic3 ‘The otherworld delivery service’
Pic3 ‘The otherworld delivery service’
Pic4 ‘The autumn spirit’
Pic4 ‘The autumn spirit’
Pic5 Reshaping the lawn banks
Pic5 Reshaping the lawn banks

One of the main questions visitors would ask us around this time of year before they come into the garden is if there is still something in bloom. Yes there is; given that it is a very late season there are still few summer bedding flowering like Cuphea, Tropaeolum or even Lobelias. On top of these are our Hydrangeas, Persicarias, different types of Fuchsias, the Sedums and Anaphalis (Pearl Everlasting) still in bloom.

Pic6 The long Ribbon beds
Pic6 The long Ribbon beds

The last of the Runner and French Beans are harvested and the climbing supports will have to come down very soon before they will be blown right over the top of the wall. It shows you again how unusual this season was, we never harvested beans so late in the year.

Pic7 The remains of the beans
Pic7 The remains of the beans

So what else is going on within the four walls of Kylemore gardens? The trees nearly finished shedding their leaves, only oaks and beech trees holding on to them. I know it is part of the yearly cycle but it is also a big relieve since it takes a long time to tidy them up each morning.

Pic 8 Autumn colour
Pic 8 Autumn colour

Now is also a good time to powerwash all hard surfaces before the winter season hits us. Since we are a public garden with plenty of visitors each day we have to make sure that all paths and steps are save and not slippery. The wet summer means extra moss growth everywhere.
Our original work men’s Bothy behind the garden wall got new windows and a door and will be used to store valuable timber, falling naturally on the grounds. The timber will be used to make new plant labels or furniture or if of less quality as fire wood for the Abbey and the Head Gardeners House.

Pic9 Timber store
Pic9 Timber store

Our garden cat, nearly 17!, is holding her ground. She is still catching her evening meals herself and is announcing each catch with a very loud miau.

Pic10 Hunting success
Pic10 Hunting success

Your Head Gardener
Anja Gohlke
Things you can do in your garden in November:
To Sow / Propagate:
~ Propagate rhubarb by division and replant
~ Pot on plants into new soil and feed if left for long in pots
~ Take cuttings of soft fruits like Currants

To plant:
~ Order and plant bare-rooted trees, shrubs and hedges; until the end of February
~ New roses, also bare-rooted

To harvest:
~ Brussels sprouts, spinach, leaf beet, carrots
~ Curley Kale after first frost
~ Last of apples and pears, check storage for rotten ones on a regular base

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Clean and store terracotta pots or frost protect if they stay outside
~ Tidy lawns of leaves and debris
~ Power wash surfaces
~ Feed spring cabbages with own liquid comfrey

Garden Diary October 2015

The air is getting cooler and the warm days and colder nights result in a blanket of fog and heavy dew in the mornings. It is a great time to take pictures of the Connemara landscape and I sometimes stop for a quick photo shoot on my way to work. The scenic mountain range surrounding Kylemore Abbey & Garden invites you to take out the camera.

Pic1 Dawn over Pollacappul lake in front of Kylemore Abbey
Pic1 Dawn over Pollacappul lake in front of Kylemore Abbey

The sowing of the next generation of spring bedding plants is finished, now its time for potting on and hardening off all the thousands of little seedlings; a job which needs a bit of patience! We experienced a problem with the seeds of Forget-me-nots, one of our main spring bedding plants. The seeds were from last year and the germinating rate was very poor. So we had to reorder new seeds which germinated much better but left us a bit behind. One of the challenges a gardener has to face!

Pic2 Seeds are just starting to germinate
Pic2 Seeds are just starting to germinate
Pic3 Seedlings nearly ready for potting on
Pic3 Seedlings nearly ready for potting on
Pic4 Potted seedlings
Pic4 Potted seedlings

We just held our last Vegetable sale for our Kylemore staff for this season. We had a good selection of everything; the bestseller is always our spuds, though. Since this year’s crop is not as good quantity wise, we had a few sad faces when they were sold out after few minutes. The money raised will go to the Galway Hospice once again.

Pic5 Last spuds for this season
Pic5 Last spuds for this season

Our carrots on the other shad gave a very good crop. We feared the opposite few months ago and we nearly took them all out. And luckily there is no visible sign of carrot fly on them.

Pic6 Our three varieties of carrots: ‘St. Valery’, ‘Chantenay Red Cored’ & ‘Autumn King’
Pic6 Our three varieties of carrots: ‘St. Valery’, ‘Chantenay Red Cored’ & ‘Autumn King’

We also sold the last crop of Broad beans and a nice selection of Garlic, Shallots and Onions. The green Runner beans are not as popular around here and a bit of ‘convincing talk’ was needed for people to try them out.

Pic7 The Onion family
Pic7 The Onion family
Pic8 Runner beans
Pic8 Runner beans

We also started to harvest few different apples. One of them is the ‘Golden Spire’ I mentioned in last month’s diary. Another more unusual variety would be the Cider Apple ‘Finoula Lees’. It is a small long shaped apple with a lovely strong aroma. We received this tree from the local priest from Lenane many years ago and it developed into a nice small crowned tree.

Pic9 Apple ‘ Golden Spire’
Pic9 Apple ‘ Golden Spire’
Pic10 Cider apple ‘Finoula Lees’
Pic10 Cider apple ‘Finoula Lees’

The last of the spring bulbs for the coming season just arrived and need to be stored in a cool dark place like in the upstairs of our bothy. A regular check for diseases like mould or signs of mice is essential to make sure the bulbs are still there when it’s planting time!

Pic11 Spring bulbs – Tulips
Pic11 Spring bulbs – Tulips

Thats all for this months diary, let’s enjoy the few ‘Indian summer spells’!
Your Head Gardener
Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in October:
To Sow / Propagate:
~ Sow seeds of perennials as soon as ripe
~ Pot on or store tender plants like Pelargonium or Fuchsia
~ Take root cuttings of plants like Santolina or  Phlox

~ Take cuttings of Gooseberries or Currants
~ Take cuttings of tender shrubs (Fuchsia etc.)

To plant:
~ Prepare beds & start to plant spring bedding and bulbs like Daffodils and Crocus
~ Plant out trees and shrubs left in pots, stake if necessary

To harvest:
~ Apples, Nuts and Pears
~ Lettuce, Courgettes, Marrows, Pumpkins, Leeks, Carrots, Parsnips
To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Start to cut back perennials in borders
~ Keep deadheading late summer flowering plants like Kaffir Lilies
~ Cut back few shrubs like Buddleja or Lavatera by half (hard pruning next spring)
~ Rake or blow leaves of lawns, collect for leaf composts
~ Autumn feed lawns after scarifying and resowing