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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

Garden Diary September 2015

It is nearly mid-September and the summer is coming to its end.
The bedding is holding out great, despite the weather. Few annuals like Tagetes tenuifolia are starting to go over. We spend a good while on dead heading each plant to encourage the last buds to develop into flowers before the season is over.

Pic1 Late summer bedding in our Parterre
Pic1 Late summer bedding in our Parterre

In the last few years I noticed that it is very much weather depending how strong the colours of the annual bedding schemes are. This year for example seems to be a very good season for all shades of blue and purple. One of our main bedding plants, Lobelia ‘Chrystal Palace’, got a lot of attention during the last few weeks.

Pic2 Lobelia ‘Chrystal Palace’ on the left
Pic2 Lobelia ‘Chrystal Palace’ on the left
Pic3 White and Blue Lobelia in our Diamond beds
Pic3 White and Blue Lobelia in our Diamond beds

Also the tones of oranges give great colour splashes at the moment. The wild Mombretia can be seen in full blossom everywhere around Connemara these weeks. It also adds a nice touch to our woodland walk up to the Head Gardeners House.

Pic4 Wild Mombretia near the Head Gardeners House
Pic4 Wild Mombretia near the Head Gardeners House

We nearly finished the summer pruning of the wall fruits. It is vital to do also a summer pruning of the pear trees to keep the trained shape of the trees and to encourage the development of new fruit buds. It is very time consuming but important to train them in the right way for a future success.

Pic5 Trained Pear tree
Pic5 Trained Pear tree

Our old apple tree ‘Golden Spire’, a dessert and cooking apple, is loaded with fruits. It had a ‘Year off’ last year so we are delighted that it is cropping so well. I will try to graft a couple of new Golden Spire trees later in the winter time.

Pic6 Apple tree ‘Golde Spire’
Pic6 Apple tree ‘Golde Spire’

Finally there are the first Runner and French beans to be seen. I am actually surprised that especially the French beans made it as far. The lack of sun and heat was totally against it. We never had the Broad beans in the plots as late either. We are still harvesting and also keeping few beans for the seeds for next season.

Pic7 Runner bean ‘Painted Lady’
Pic7 Runner bean ‘Painted Lady’

The courgettes and pumpkins are coming along slowly, too. The wet condition caused a lot of mildew on the leaves but the vegetables themselves grow along.

Pic8 Courgette
Pic8 Courgette
Pic9 Pumpkin ‘Golden Hubbarb’
Pic9 Pumpkin ‘Golden Hubbarb’

The Herbaceous Border is coming slowly to its autumn stage. Few perennials like Echinops are still in full bloom and the later varieties like Kaffir lily, Aster and Sedum started to bloom recently.

Pic10 Echinops and wild bee
Pic10 Echinops and wild bee

One of the strawberry seedlings must have found its own little pocket to develop and is growing right out the brick wall where it is sheltered, warm and dry. There are even few fruits on it. Vertical gardening seems to be the answer so!

Pic11 ‘Wall-Strawberry’
Pic11 ‘Wall-Strawberry’

Happy Gardening  and dry feet to everyone!
Your Head Gardener
Anja Gohlke

Things you can do in your garden in September:
To Sow / Propagate:
~ Pot on and harden off spring bedding plants like Bellis, Forgetmenots and Wallflowers
~ Last chance to sow overwintering green manure in vegetable plots
~ Take semi ripe cuttings of shrubs
~ Sow new grass seeds after scarifying

To plant:
~ Shrubs and trees left in pots
~ Last of catch crops like lettuces and spring onions
~ New perennials in borders

To harvest:
~ Carrots, Celery, Beetroot, Spinach, Leaf beet, Lettuce, Herbs
~ Last main crop of potatoes
~ Runner and French Beans; let few of them dry for taking seeds
~ Seeds of flowers like Sweet pea or Petunia
~ Apples & Pears
~ Nuts

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Prune summer fruiting Raspberries,
~ Blackcurrants & Gooseberries after finish fruiting
~ Treat lawns for moss and scarify, rake out dead moss and sow new grass
~ Remove leafs of lawns and paths

Garden Diary August 2015

A very wet…. .
No, I can’t start this blog like the last one from July. I should really focus on the pleasant sides within the four walls of our garden, which we have plenty of. First of all we can spare water and electricity this year; it’s a while since we used our automatic sprinkler system! Surprisingly it seems to be a good climate for most bedding plants. Everything is in full bloom and the blossom seems to be more intense than usual. I have to say it is much easier to take pictures of the garden when it is overcast, photography with clear sunny skies can be a challenge, too!
Walkways double as ornamental water features in our Parterre, where the Monkey Puzzle Tree is mirrored in the puddles like a fourth dimension!

Pic1 Parterre during the ‘Rainy-Season’ with hidden Diamond Hill in background
Pic1 Parterre during the ‘Rainy-Season’ with hidden Diamond Hill in background

I don’t want to sound sarcastic with my recent comments but it is important to stay positive. My motto these days is: It could be worse!

Our main colour scheme within the formal garden consists of shades of yellow, blue, red and white this year. Especially Calendula ‘Orange King’, Antirrhinum ‘Night & Day’ (Snapdragon), Lobelia ‘Chrystal Palace’ and Verbena rigida give great contrasts like in our ‘D-beds’.

Pic2 The D-beds in full bloom
Pic2 The D-beds in full bloom

The main bedding plants for yellow are Tagetes tenuifolia ‘Golden Gem’ and Tropaeolum ‘Golden King’ (Nasturtium). Some of these plants are getting replanted at the moment so they will last until the end of the season.

Pic3 Our Circle beds at the South Slope
Pic3 Our Circle beds at the South Slope

Its pruning time for many shrubs as flowering has finished. I noticed that our Weigelias have flowered very late this season and the shrubs are still covered with blossom.

Pic4 The flower of Weigelia coraeensis
Pic4 The flower of Weigelia coraeensis

Jan, one of our garden students has just trimmed back our ornamental Cherry trees (Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii’), planted as dots in our south slope. This way they won’t outgrow too much and we keep a balanced picture.

Pic5 Pruning the ornamental Cherry
Pic5 Pruning the ornamental Cherry

I might have discovered another invasive plant here in Connemara. Leycesteria formosa, the Himalayan honeysuckle, seems to spread quite a lot outside our garden walls. The very attractive shrub was also important by the Victorian plant hunters from China back in the 19th century and now it seems to escape like many other species before (eg. Rhododendron, Gunnera). Investigating a bit more I came across an article about the ‘Beast or Beauty’, meaning this shrub is a beauty when it’s not spreading invasively like in New Zealand. It is declared as a pest plant over there and our climate here in Connemara seems to be very similar to the island south-east of Australia. So we better watch out and start to control it.

Pic6 The flower of the Himalayan honeysuckle
Pic6 The flower of the Himalayan honeysuckle

The fruit production has had its ups and downs this season, too. The white currants were overloaded with fruits whereas our black currants are only half covered with small black berries. We have hardly any plums but the pear trees are full. Also our only peach tree, planted originally by the Benedictine Nuns many years ago, is having a good year. Unfortunately most fruits will split open with the heavy rain fall before fully ripe.

Pic7 White Currant ‘White Versaille’
Pic7 White Currant ‘White Versaille’
Pic8 Peach
Pic8 Peach

It is now safe to say that we have seen better years for vegetables; our French beans might be ready for picking, if at all, in October. They need sun and heat to do well, something very rare this season. A local man just told me this morning that we have probably experienced the coldest summer in weather recording, I believe it.

Pic9 Our French and runner beans
Pic9 Our French and runner beans
Pic10 Declan is cutting back bolting vegetables
Pic10 Declan is cutting back bolting vegetables

Please find below our usual garden tips.

Happy Gardening to everyone.

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 and water 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 2015

A very wet welcome back to our high season July edition from the Walled Garden in Kylemore Abbey.
Giving a talk about the resurrection of the Victorian Walled Garden in Kylemore last weekend at the Galway Garden Festival I realised that we are in our 15th year since reopening in 2000 after restoration work was finished. Time just seems to fly and you nearly forget to count the years; being constantly busy with seasonal work. I had to go through pictures from restoration times to prepare for this talk and the changes still amaze me since I was not there myself to witness it.
To give a better picture of the changes I have inserted two images below, one from the herbaceous border before completion and one from the formal flower garden just after restoration started in 1995. To compare the changes I have also added two recent pictures of the same areas.

Pic1 Herbaceous Border 1997
Pic1 Herbaceous Border 1997
Pic2 Formal Flower Garden 1996 with ruin of Vinery in the back
Pic2 Formal Flower Garden 1996 with ruin of Vinery in the back
Pic3 Herbaceous Border now
Pic3 Herbaceous Border now
Pic4 Formal Flower Garden last yer September with restored Vinery
Pic4 Formal Flower Garden last yer September with restored Vinery

We must be one of the wettest regions here in Ireland this year. Daily rainfalls of 15 to 30ml are common enough at the moment, today it will be around 40 ml I guess. Every bit of sunshine is welcomed with a big relieved smile, like something from the good old times!
So at the moment we need plan A’s and plan B’s for the gardeners. Dry spells are used to mow, edge and weed as fast as possible, the B’s are reserved for indoor jobs like potting, sowing backup summer bedding, repairing tools or cleaning and maintaining glasshouses.
The interior of the vinery iswiped down with an anti-fungal solution, which is very important especially in these damp conditions.

Pic5 The vinery
Pic5 The vinery

Despite the heavy rainfalls most summer bedding plants have started to flower by now. It will be a very late season which might come in handy in around September/October.

Pic6 The formal Flower Garden
Pic6 The formal Flower Garden
Pic7 The Parterre
Pic7 The Parterre

The side effects of this wet season are more visible on the vegetables. Our potatoes are very slow and not as good as in recent years. Also the cabbages are lacking the usual strong growth. We are just in the process of preparing our own liquid comfrey fertilizer which will help especially the greedy Brassicas to perform better. The peas are still small, first the Mangetouts and then the Broad beans are harvested.

Pic8 The Brassica plot
Pic8 The Brassica plot

The herbaceous border is also a bit behind but looks lovely at the moment. Strong shades of purple, yellow and pinks dominate the colour scheme.

Pic9 Herbaceous Border beginning July
Pic9 Herbaceous Border beginning July

But what’s the point to complain and mourn every day, there is nothing we can do about it, just trying to adapt. The question I ask myself recently is whether I would prefer the heat waves of 40 degrees and severe droughts like in England or on the continent. I know what I would choose!

Happy Gardening to everyone.

Your Head Gardener
Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in July:

To Sow / Propagate:
~ 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 end of this month and 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
~ Sow Green manures into empty plots, for example in recently harvested potato plots
~ Plant squashes, pumpkins, marrows and courgettes & feed regularly

To harvest:
~ Soft fruits like Raspberries
~ 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 Buxus hedges

Garden diary for June 2015

Welcome back to our June edition of the garden blog of the Victorian Walled Garden in Kylemore.
This year must be a bumper year for birds. In all my years here in Kylemore (nearly 13!) I never saw and heard so many birds in our garden. They are very busy looking for worms and other tasty creatures to feed their chicks and every dug over bed is a welcome opportunity to get a handy food supply. I just walked through the garden to take pictures for this blog and a song thrush was sitting on top of the tallest tree in the garden and singing a lovely song to the rest of Kylemore. These little birds also play a big part in keeping down our nearly endless supply of midges and other bugs.
The very unsettled and cold weather is a bit of a challenge for us at the moment. Nearly all beds are planted up with summer bedding by now, what’s missing is a bit of sun and heat which is expected within the next few days (fingers crossed!).

Pic1 Taking out spring bedding
Pic1 Taking out spring bedding

The top dressing with our own rotted compost and an extra feed of chicken manure really helped our herbaceous border to bring on the growth. I try to incorporate new, old varieties into the border each year, for example Verbascum bombyciferum, the Giant Silver Mullein. This biannual plant gives great structure to a border due to its height and the silvery wooly looking leaves are a great contrast to your normal shades of green. I saw children touching the leaves to see if it is alive!

Pic2 Giant Silver Mullein
Pic2 Giant Silver Mullein

Also the blossom of the oriental poppies are fully open now, lets hope the next storm is far away so the petals are not blown away.

Pic3 Oriental Poppy
Pic3 Oriental Poppy

Our climbing plants like Wisteria, Clematis and Jasmin are also starting to cover pillars and walls. The very early flowering Clematis‚ Nelly Moser‘ with its huge light purple flower heads is giving a nice colour splash to the Parterre at the moment.

Pic4 Clematis‚ Nelly Moser‘
Pic4 Clematis‚ Nelly Moser‘
Pic5 Still closed flowers of Wisteria sinensis
Pic5 Still closed flowers of Wisteria sinensis

Our spuds were mounded up twice by now, they are still a bit behind last years growth. As soon as we get the first blight warning we have to spray them. Our heritage varieties would not be resistant like many newer varieties.

Pic6 Potatoes starting to cover ground
Pic6 Potatoes starting to cover ground

The french and runner beans, planted two weeks ago, are starting to get a grip on the bamboo supports. It is very time consuming to put these up every year so we are looking for a more permanent structure which is easy to move around the following year.

Pic7 Runner & French beans
Pic7 Runner & French beans

The best time for our Rockery is early summer; most plants flower around now. A mix of groundcover plants like Erigeron and taller shrubs like Rock roses flower in different shades of purple. Evergreen solitaers like Phormium or Conifers are also providing structure to this natural Rock Garden.

Pic8 The Rockery
Pic8 The Rockery

Each year we are trying to improve areas of the garden, especially from the visitors point of view. Just today we finished putting new signs on the ruins of the original glasshouse bases so the visitors are able to identify and picture the former main focal point of the garden themselves, the  21 glasshouses.

Pic9 New sign for the former Palm Glass House
Pic9 New sign for the former Palm Glass House

Beginning June we started our free guided tours of the garden again. Everybody is welcome to walk the garden with a trained guide to get the main facts of the Walled Garden and it’s unusual history. The meeting point is just outside the Tea house at 12 pm each day.

Pic10 Sign for the free guided tour of the garden
Pic10 Sign for the free guided tour of the garden

Happy Gardening to everybody.

Your Head Gardener
Anja Gohlke

 

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

~ Continue sowing and planting lettuce for succession planting (every 10 days)
~ Thin out carrots and parsnips, protect against carrot fly
~ Take softwood cuttings of shrubs
To plant:
~ Plant out pumpkins, marrows and French / Runner beans
~ Plant more radishes and Spring onion

To maintain & prune & 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
~ Summer feed lawns
~ Look out for caterpillars, green or black flyes and signs of blight

Garden Diary for May 2015

A few days ago I gave a talk to the Clifden Garden Club about our Walled Garden in Kylemore. It was very satisfying to see a good turn out and to get a very positive feedback from the club which I am not a member of myself at the moment. I would say nearly all members visited Kylemore Gardens at this stage and it’s interesting to see that people always find new undiscovered details within the walls of the six acre garden. It is also good to talk to other gardeners about horticultural problems like the threatening box blight.

Pic1 Birds eye view of the Walled Garden of Kylemore
Pic1 Birds eye view of the Walled Garden of Kylemore

The spring display is slowly coming to an end and we started to deadhead  the Tulips, Bellis and Daffodils. That will prevent the development of seed heads which will only take the energy away from the plant or bulb itself. It will also encourage bedding plants like Bellis or Wallflowers to prolong their flowering time.

Pic2 Deadheading Bellis
Pic2 Deadheading Bellis
Pic3 The last of the spring display in our Parterre
Pic3 The last of the spring display in our Parterre

Most of our summer bedding is ready for planting into the formal flower beds; therefore we started to take out  the spring flowers and to plant Calendulas or annual Chrysanthemums in individual planting schemes. When left too long in trays they can get a set back or the flowers can peak too early which means the total flower display will be shortened for the summer. It is always a bit of a challenge to time this right. We depend a great deal on the weather.

Pic4 Taking out spring bedding to make room for summer bedding
Pic4 Taking out spring bedding to make room for summer bedding

Our tree surgeon on site is tackling the deadwood in the old trees at the moment, a lot of timber has to be taken out. This will reduce the risk of fallen branches and also distress to the tree itself by reducing its crown.

Pic5 Taking out dead wood on old Cypressus Macrocarpa trees
Pic5 Taking out dead wood on old Cypressus Macrocarpa trees

The work in our herbaceous border is nearly finished; dividing, replanting, top dressing and feeding are the main jobs which need to be done annually. The updating of the herbaceous border leaflet is always the final thing for me to do.

Pic6 New willow support in our herbaceous border
Pic6 New willow support in our herbaceous border

The crops in the vegetable garden are slowly starting to cover a bit more ground. The growth is very slow this year due to the cold weather. Occasional hail showers  did not help either.

Pic7 Broad beans
Pic7 Broad beans

The blossom on the fruit trees is just amazing this year. Cherries, Pears, Apples and Plums were and still are covered in pink and white flowers, much to the delight of butterflies and friends. Let’s hope that it is a good sign for the coming fruit development. Late frosts and storms can go against it, as we all know.

Pic8 Old apple tree ‘Golden Spire’ covered in blossom
Pic8 Old apple tree ‘Golden Spire’ covered in blossom
Pic9 A pair of Peacock Butterflies on pear tree flowers
Pic9 A pair of Peacock Butterflies on pear tree flowers
Pic 10 Crab apples in full swing
Pic 10 Crab apples in full swing

The season is getting busy so let’s hope that the west of Ireland is getting its good share of sunshine.
Your Head Gardener
Anja Gohlke

Things you can do in your garden in May:

To Sow / Propagate:
~ Harden off later vegetable seedlings like pumkins, marrows and beetroot
~ Sow French and Runner beans
~ Sow Carrots and Parsnips
~ 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
~ Transfer leeks outside into final position
~ Plant Tagetes and Calendula as companion plants between your crops to attract beneficial insects

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Trim formal hedges of Buxus, Fuchsia or Escallonia and feed them
~ 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
~ Aerate and sand lawns if not done earlier

Garden Diary for April 2015

Easter came and went like an early summer’s breeze and close to three hundred little girls and boys were chasing after clues throughout the walled garden and beyond. At the end of the hunt they received a well deserved chocolate bunny. It was great to see the older siblings helping the younger ones with more tricky questions but they all made it in the end. I had to run after my children to keep up with their pace!

Pic1 Solving one of the clues – How many Easter eggs are hanging on the apple tree?
Pic1 Solving one of the clues – How many Easter eggs are hanging on the apple tree?
Pic2 Two little bunnies enjoy the sun in the Walled Garden
Pic2 Two little bunnies enjoy the sun in the Walled Garden
Pic3 Eithne who organised the egg hunt is petting the tired Easter bunny after a long day
Pic3 Eithne who organised the egg hunt is petting the tired Easter bunny after a long day

The weather was all what you could ask for; even so Easter was two weeks earlier then last year. The intense sunshine brought out the first of the many different types of tulips and Co.

Pic4 Tulip sylvestris
Pic4 Tulip sylvestris
Pic5 Anemone de Caen
Pic5 Anemone de Caen
Pic6 Fritillaria max.’Lutea’
Pic6 Fritillaria max.’Lutea’

The vegetable garden is getting very busy. Nearly every day crops are getting planted. The peas and mangetouts are going in today for example. Last week most of the kales and cabbages were planted and the last of the potatoes will go into the ridges next week probably. A careful record keeping of the varieties, planting times and amounts is important to keep track and also helps with next years plans.

Pic7 Planting out the Cabbages and Kales
Pic7 Planting out the Cabbages and Kales

I am always amazed how long crops can stay in the ground, our Beetroot still looks good and even tastes quite good. Just last week we took out last years leeks.

Pic8 Last years Beetroot still standing strong
Pic8 Last years Beetroot still standing strong

It seems to be a bumper year for Rhubarb. I saw it seldom so strong and healthy growing and it just tastes fantastic. The Benedictine Nuns like to make lovely desserts using the Rhubarb. People often forget that Rhubarb has only a short harvesting period, mainly from April till June. So now or never! And when harvested early the stalks don’t need to be peeled either, since they are not stringy yet.

Pic9 Rhubarb on its high
Pic9 Rhubarb on its high

The cuttings of the Blackcurrants I took last year are setting they first flowers already. It is wise to take them off until the plants establish a bit more and the root system is fully developed. Otherwise too much energy is used for the fruit production, which has still time until last year.

Pic10 Blackcurrant cuttings
Pic10 Blackcurrant cuttings

There is also a lot going on in our Herbaceous Border; dividing and replanting, top dressing using our own well rotted compost and a feed of Chicken manure. Also the Herbaceous Border leaflet needs updating after all the changes which takes a good bit of time. A  few taller growing plants need to be staked before the main growths starts; we will use our own willows and also metal supports for this.

Pic11 Herbaceous Border beginning April.
Pic11 Herbaceous Border beginning April.
Pic12 Fritillaria persica is always giving a great show
Pic12 Fritillaria persica is always giving a great show

The ferns are enrolling their first fronds and for me it is one of the highlights each spring to see them doing it in such an elegant way.

Pic13 Fernery
Pic13 Fernery

The weather seems to be having it’s ups and downs at the moment; hot summer sun and snow on the mountain within three days! The gardener’s joy!

Your Head Gardener
Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in April

To Sow / Propagate:
~ Continue sowing potatoes
~ Sow more Vegetables like carrots and parsnips later in month
~ Sow tomatoes & cucumbers indoors
~ Start to harden off summer bedding plants like Calendula or Lobelia

To plant:
~ Plant out Kale, Cabbage, Lettuce, Peas & Mangetouts, Spinach
~ New perennials or ornamental grasses for borders
To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Feed and treat box hedges for blight (Try seaweed!)
~ Clean and prepare Hanging Baskets for May planting
~ Continue lawn care like aerating and sanding, feeding and weeding
~ Start to trim formal hedges
~ Prune early spring flowering shrubs after finishing flowering