Welcome back to the October edition of our garden blog.
My hopes which were raised at the beginning of last months blog about the coming weather conditions were too optimistic. In all my years here in the wild west of Ireland I never experienced such a dramatic weather change. Lightning and thunder storms came right from the Atlantic and turned the whole of Connemara into hells kitchen for a couple of hours. Many houses were struck by lightning; one house tragically burned down. These frightening moments reminded me very clearly that we are living right at the edge of this part of the world. Thankfully Kylemore gardens escaped any major damage.
So what’s new on the garden front?
October is a very busy time here in Kylemore: Maintaining the last of the summer bedding, starting to cut back herbaceous plants, pruning soft fruits and taking cuttings from the likes of Blackcurrants or taking runners of Strawberries. We are also potting on the last of the spring bedding for the coming season and starting to plant the first ones, which are already big enough, out.
The garden is still showing a good bit of colour; evergreen grasses like Acorus in combination with Persicaria can do the job when everything else has finished their summer flowers.
Autumn flowering herbaceous plants like Asters, Sedum, Schizostylis or long flowering Roses prolong the season by another couple of weeks. One of my favorite Asters would be Aster turbinellus, the Prairie Aster with small but elegant purple heads. The small leaves shimmer nearly grey in the sun and give a nice contrast to the blossom.
The Brassica plots with its Kales and Cabbages would be the more showy beds within the vegetable garden at the moment. They last well, despite the strong gales we had. For me it would be a typical winter vegetable, often used in German style stews. I am not very much in Cabbage mood when its warm outside…
October is also harvesting time for many fruits like apples, pears or nuts. We had a lot of fallen apples due to the winds and had to pick them up nearly every day. They might have a few bruises but are still delicious.
I also planted a new pear tree as espalier inside the east wall (facing west). Father Burke from Lennane kindly gives a fruit tree to Sr. Benedict nearly every year as a present. This year he got a very old pear variety ‘John Wesley’ (around 18th century) from the Irish Seed Savers Association. John Wesley was the first methodest preacher in Ireland. The tree will need formative training and I hope we will be able to harvest some fruit from it within the next couple of years.
We are still doing plant IDs with our students which are on placement until the end of October. This weeks task was the identification of different types of ferns, not an easy one. One of the more distinctive looking ferns would be the Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis).
Our Head Chef John will put a nice recipe for a pumpkin soup into the chefs blog for October.
I won’t make any remarks about the coming weather, we have to take it as it comes!
Best wishes from
Your Head Gardener
Things you can do in your garden in October:
To Sow / Propagate:
~ Pot on tender plants used in baskets like Fuchsia
~ Take root cuttings of plants like Primula, Phlox or Echinop
~ Take cuttings of Gooseberries or Currants
~ Take cuttings of tender shrubs (Fuchsia etc.)
~ Prepare beds & start to plant spring bedding and bulbs like Daffodils and Crocus
~ Plant out trees and shrubs left in pots, stake if necessary
~ Last of herbs before going over
~ Apples, Nuts and Pears
~ Lettuce, Courgettes, Marrows, Pumpkins, Leeks, Carrots, Parsnips
To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Keep deadheading late summer flowering plants
~ Cut back few shrubs like Buddleja or Lavatera by half (hard pruning next spring)
~ Rake leaves of lawns
~ Autumn feed lawns after scarifying and resowing