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Garden Diary October 2014

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.

Pic1 Late summer display in the Parterre
Pic1 Late summer display in the Parterre
Pic2 Cuttings of Blackcurrants; leaves need to be taken off and cuttings planted in ridges to root and grow on for at least one year before transplanting
Pic2 Cuttings of Blackcurrants; leaves need to be taken off and cuttings planted in ridges to root and grow on for at least one year before transplanting
Pic3 Runners of Strawberry ‘Royal Sovereign’
Pic3 Runners of Strawberry ‘Royal Sovereign’

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.

Pic4 Late colour flash
Pic4 Late colour flash

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.

Pic5 Herbaceous Border in early October
Pic5 Herbaceous Border in early October
Pic6 Rose ‘Narrow Water’
Pic6 Rose ‘Narrow Water’
Pic7 Aster turbinellus
Pic7 Aster turbinellus

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…

Pic8 Kales & Cabbages
Pic8 Kales & Cabbages

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.

Pic9 Different apple varieties
Pic9 Different apple varieties

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.

Pic10 Newly planted pear tree ‘John Wesley’
Pic10 Newly planted pear tree ‘John Wesley’

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).

Pic11 Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis)  & bridges in our Fernery
Pic11 Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis) & bridges in our Fernery

Our Head Chef John will put a nice recipe for a pumpkin soup  into the chefs blog for October.

Pic12 One of many different pumpkin varieties
Pic12 One of many different pumpkin varieties

I won’t make any remarks about the coming weather, we have to take it as it comes!

Best wishes from
Your Head Gardener
Anja Gohlke
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.)

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:
~ 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

Garden diary for September 2014

September started with lovely early autumn weather and I hope that this is a good sign for the coming winter. The midges are also enjoying their last few moments for this season and try their best to leave a lasting impression on us! One of the evenings, shortly before closing time, I captured a special moment with my camera. Even though Ireland is well known for its rainbows I never saw such a nice one in our garden before.

Pic1 The perfect rainbow
Pic1 The perfect rainbow

We are digging our spuds quite late this year but it’s worth it! ‘International Kidney’ & ‘Kerr’s Pink’ are one of the most successful varieties for this season and each are a treat on the plate.

Pic2 ‘International Kidney’ (right) & ‘Kerr’s Pink’ (left)
Pic2 ‘International Kidney’ (right) & ‘Kerr’s Pink’ (left)

I have to say that we had one of the best seasons I can remember in this garden. The growth of a couple of annuals like Antirrhinum or Amaranthus exceeded their usual height by far.  They also flowered much earlier and seem to last much longer which is not so common in our climate here in Connemara. The intensity of the flowers is another positive thing we noticed this year. Talking to other Gardeners, they experienced the same and put it down to the mild winter and the dry spells early summer.

Pic3 The ‘Vinery Bed’ with Amaranthus, Senecio, Coleus &  Agave as a dot plant
Pic3 The ‘Vinery Bed’ with Amaranthus, Senecio, Coleus & Agave as a dot plant
Pic4 Antirrhinum ‘Night & Day’ in combination with Lavatera ‘Mont Blanc’
Pic4 Antirrhinum ‘Night & Day’ in combination with Lavatera ‘Mont Blanc’

Our main walk way through the flower garden is once again framed by the flowering Red Hot Poker. For me it is always the last sign of summer in our garden and I hope that it will last a very long time.

Pi5 The main walk way with Red Hot Poker
Pi5 The main walk way with Red Hot Poker

I mentioned the intensity of the flowers of many plants earlier on. One of the best examples would be Hydrangea ‘Blue Bird’ in combination with Fuchsia ‘Thalia’ and also the display in our ‘Ribbon beds’, a line planting of Sedum, Anaphalis and Fuchsia ‘Tom West’.

Pic6 Hydrangea & Fuchsia & Lobelia
Pic6 Hydrangea & Fuchsia & Lobelia
Pi7 The Ribbon beds
Pi7 The Ribbon beds

The warm and sunny weather lets the pears ripen nicely, especially the ones growing along the south facing wall. Also the cob nuts in our nuttery are nearly ready to be picked.

Pic8 Pear ‘Catillac’
Pic8 Pear ‘Catillac’
Pic9 Cob nuts
Pic9 Cob nuts

The vegetable garden went in competition with the flower garden this season and nearly all crops are doing well. One of the heritage varieties of Beetroot which we started to grow last year is called ‘Golden’. As the name already suggests,’Golden’ is turnip like and root yellow in colour, which has the advantage that it does not bleed.  Taste wise they are similar to the red varieties and are best harvested when still small. You also can find a recipe for roasted beetroot in our chef blog for September.

Pic10 Beetroot ‘Golden’
Pic10 Beetroot ‘Golden’

Halloween is coming closer and our pumpkins are getting in shape. Why not try out unusual looking varieties like the ‘Golden Hubbard’? It has a very warm dark yellow skin and looks great as a decoration.

Pic11 Pumpkin ‘Golden Hubbard’ and ‘Mammoth’ (in back)
Pic11 Pumpkin ‘Golden Hubbard’ and ‘Mammoth’ (in back)

I nearly feel guilty to sit down in my office to write this blog. The midges from this morning are chased away by the warmth of the afternoon sun and the garden is calling…!
Best wishes from
Your Head Gardener
Anja Gohlke
Things you can do in your garden in September:

To Sow / Propagate:
~ Last chance to sow overwintering green manure in vegetable plots
~ Pot on spring beddings for 2015
~ Pot on rooted cuttings of Helichrysum, Fuchsia or Hydrangea

To plant:
~ Plants left in pots
~ Last lettuce planting outside
~ New perennials in borders
~ New grass seeds after scarifying

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

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Prune Raspberries, Blackcurrants & Gooseberries
~ Treat lawns for moss and scarify, rake out dead moss and resow grass
~ Start to rake leaves of paths and lawns

Garden Diary August 2014

Just when you think that the planting time is over and everything is in full bloom and it is time to enjoy the fruits of your hard work for the next few weeks it is time to start all over again! Unfortunately few summer bedding plants don’t last until the end of the season and need a replacement. To ensure a continues display of colours within the garden walls we have to replant annuals like Nasturtiums, Chrysanthemums , ornamental Beta or Salvia in time so the young plants are ready to flower when the old ones start to fade. So we actually have two seasons during the summer months which is a challenge in itself!

Pic1 A new generation is ready for planting
Pic1 A new generation is ready for planting
Pic2 Summer bedding in full swing – colourful display of annuals like Snapdragon, Lobelia & Nasturtium
Pic2 Summer bedding in full swing – colourful display of annuals like Snapdragon, Lobelia & Nasturtium
Pic3 The spiral beds along the main walk – a mix of annuals and perennials
Pic3 The spiral beds along the main walk – a mix of annuals and perennials
Pic4 Ribbon beds with low shrubs and perennials
Pic4 Ribbon beds with low shrubs and perennials
Pic5 The Formal Flower Garden
Pic5 The Formal Flower Garden

The same counts more or less for the Vegetable Garden. The first crops like Broad beans or Potatoes are harvested and need to be replaced with different types of crops. Our plot with the ‘British Queens’ potatoes for example will be turned into a green manure plot. A succession planting of all types of Lettuces will replace other crops like Beetroot or Spring Onions. Now is also the time, when not already done, to plant spring cabbages for next year’s harvest.  The first of the dwarf French and Runner beans are ready to be picked and the Beetroots have a fantastic flavor this year.

Pic6 Climbing beans are nearly ready to be harvested
Pic6 Climbing beans are nearly ready to be harvested
Pic7 The flower of ‘Cosse Violet’, a French climbing bean
Pic7 The flower of ‘Cosse Violet’, a French climbing bean

One of my favorite colour combinations, even though it is in the vegetable garden, must be Cabbage ‘Red Drumhead’ interplanted with Calendula officinalis. I would love to have an annual plant with the vibrant colour of this cabbage.

Pic8 Cabbage ‘Red Drumhead’ in combination with Calendula officinale
Pic8 Cabbage ‘Red Drumhead’ in combination with Calendula officinale

We also started to harvest the first of the courgettes and marrows. They grow so fast that they can double in size within few days.

Pic9 Marrows
Pic9 Marrows

I always try to introduce new old varieties of vegetables. This year we propagated and planted the first time ‘Spinach Strawberry’, a rather unusual looking annual. The red berries are the most striking feature, although they have nothing to do with strawberries. The leaves are used cooked or raw in salads; the fruits are a bit sweet but otherwise quite tasteless. I think the different look of the whole plant can add to any vegetable plot if you have a spare corner. Originated in northern America the native Americans used the red berries to dye skin or clothes.

Pic10 Strawberry Spinach
Pic10 Strawberry Spinach

Enjoy the rest of the summer!
Your Head Gardener
Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in August:

To Sow / Propagate:
~ Continue sowing spring bedding for next year
~ Take cuttings of non flowering shoots of Fuchsia, Pelargonium and Hydrangea
~ Continue to sow later crops like leaf beet, even beetroot
To plant:
~ Plant out more catch crops like lettuce and spring onion
~ Plant and water shrubs or perennials left in pots

To harvest:
~ Runner and French Beans
~ Courgettes and Marrows
~ Last of Potatoes
~ Lettuce, Spinach, Leaf beet
~ Cabbages, Kale
~ Plums

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Continue dead heading summer bedding and Herbaceous plants
~ Clear weeds of paths
~ Don’t let Vegetables like Kale or Chards flower unless you want seeds
~ Prune summer fruiting raspberries (cut out this years fruiting stems)
~ Summer pruning of apples and pears
~ Pruning of Plums and Cherries (Don’t prune in winter to avoid silver leaf disease)
~ Clear first leaves of lawns and paths

Garden Diary for July 2014

It’s Berry time! My favorite time to go through the garden and just pick and taste and compare all the different varieties of soft fruits we grow within the walled garden. Black currants, white currants, red currants, gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries…it seems to be a good year for berries and most of them except the blackberries are ready to be pick.

Pic1 White Currant’ White Versaille’
Pic1 White Currant’ White Versaille’

Also the 2 varieties of figs we have, ‘Brunswick’ and ‘Ischia’ are carrying heavy but it will take roughly another 6 weeks of sunny and warm weather for them to be fully ripe.

Pic2 Fig ‘Brunswick’
Pic2 Fig ‘Brunswick’

When you plan to set up your own vegetable or fruit garden make sure you also consider the time you need to harvest your products. It is often underestimated how long it takes to pick especially small soft fruits like gooseberries or currants and also to prepare them later on. We use white and red currants in the decoration of our homemade cheese cakes for example.

Pic3 Homemade cheesecake
Pic3 Homemade cheesecake

Nearly all of the  apple trees have a nice crop this year which is good to see for two reasons. First of all it looks like the bees are still out there plentiful and doing there job and secondly the very hard pruning they underwent last winter did not do them any harm.

Pic4-Cooking-Dessert-apple-‘Golden-Spire’-1024x741
Pic4 Cooking & Dessert apple ‘Golden Spire’

The first spuds are harvested and the heritage variety ‘Sharps Express’,  from  1901, gave a good yield. We have started to plant pumpkins on the empty ridges and afterwards to cover the ground.

Pic5 First Early Potato ‘Sharps Express’
Pic5 First Early Potato ‘Sharps Express’

A weekly supply of fresh lettuce to the restaurant, like the butterhead ‘Webbs Wonderful’, is also on our agenda at the moment. Before we bring over the heads we must rinse them off carefully.

Pic6 Lettuce for the restaurant
Pic6 Lettuce for the restaurant

Despite the good weather we had in the last few weeks we would not dare to plant our tomatoes, cucumbers and aubergines outside. To have any success with them they need to stay inside the vinery; the Irish climate is not suitable to grow them in the open.

Pic7 Tomatoes and co. in the vinery
Pic7 Tomatoes and co. in the vinery

The flower garden is in full bloom by now. Strong colour combinations like the orange of the Calendula ‘Orange King’ and the intense deep blue of Lobelia ‘Chrystal Palace’ work well together and are seen from far away which is important for the garden with our scale.

Pic8 Summer bedding in the formal flower garden
Pic8 Summer bedding in the formal flower garden
Pic9 The Parterre in July
Pic9 The Parterre in July

One of the summer highlight in our garden is always the Herbaceous Border. Especially between June and August it is a constant flowering show of herbaceous plants of all kinds. Every week more plants are opening up their flower heads and others finish flowering, so no week is the same.

Pic10-The-Herbaceous-Border-beginning-July-1024x682
Pic10 The Herbaceous Border beginning July

Below are few pictures of my favorite plants which are flowering in the border at the moment.

Pic11 Rosa ‘Blue Magenta’
Pic11 Rosa ‘Blue Magenta’
Pic12 Verbascum chaixii ‘Album’
Pic12 Verbascum chaixii ‘Album’
Pic13 Lilium pardalinum
Pic13 Lilium pardalinum
Pic14 Centaurea macrocephala
Pic14 Centaurea macrocephala

I hope this summer spell will last; everything is just more enjoyable when the sun is out, even the weeding!

Pic15 Panorama view
Pic15 Panorama view

Last but not least, a quick hello from our new arrivals within the walled garden; four Robin chicks are happily waiting in their well hidden nest for the next feed.

Pic16 Robin chicks
Pic16 Robin chicks

Your Head Gardener
Anja Gohlke

Things you can do in your garden in July:

To Sow / Propagate:
~ Pot on the last of this years summer bedding as backup plants
~ Start to sow spring bedding like Wallflowers and Bellis for next year’s spring  display at the end of the month
~ Sow spring cabbages for over wintering
~ Take cuttings of non flowering shoots of Fuchsia, Pelargonium and Hydrangea

To plant:
~ Plant out more catch crops like lettuce and spring onion
~ Plant squash, pumpkins, marrows and courgettes & feed regularly
~ Finish planting out winter brassicas

To harvest:
~ Soft fruits like Raspberries
~ Mangetouts, Peas, Broad beans
~ Potatoes
~ Lettuce, Spinach, Leaf beet
~ Herbs for drying or for fresh herbal teas like Sage or Mint

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Regularly dead heading of bedding 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
~ Prune shrubs after flowering
~ Feed lawns and Buxus hedges

Garden Diary for June 2014

The summer is landed…well, at least the calendar is trying to tell us this. We spent the first of June in our glasshouse, well protected from the heavy rainfall. We always leave the indoor work, if possible, for wet days to come. So, one of the jobs would be the spreading and tidying of the spring bulbs which we took out of the beds recently. Once dried and cleaned they will be counted and safely stored away.

Pic1 Spring bulbs
Pic1 Spring bulbs

The tomatoes, cucumbers and melons are still not big enough to go to their final position in the vinery. We keep potting them on until big enough to give  them a good head start.

 Pic2 Young tomato plants
Pic2 Young tomato plants

Our annual marathon-planting session of the flower and vegetable garden is nearly finished; it is always a big relief if we manage, once again, to put all plants into the beds in time; before they get a set back from sitting in trays too long. We had a small worry that our Calendula plants got a virus but a good feed of Seaweed dust seemed to have cleared it up and strengthened the plants. The picture below shows one of our students in full action; even though ‘incognito’! The midges were so overwhelming on this particular day that we had to cover up every part of the body, even the face!

Pic3 Preparing beds for summer planting
Pic3 Preparing beds for summer planting

The Runner and French beans are still small and especially the French dwarf and climbing beans need a lot of sun and warm weather to perform well in our garden. Last year was exceptionally good for them, will we be lucky again???

Pic4 Our bean plot
Pic4 Our bean plot

Our potatoes seem to have a good season so far, the first earliest are very strong and it looks like we will have a nice crop. We used to have a problem with wire worms so we did not plant any potatoes in this particular plot for several years to clear it up. It seems to  have worked!

Pic5 Early Spuds
Pic5 Early Spuds

Its this time of year were the comfrey is in full bloom and gives a great show along the south garden wall. We received so many questions about the use of this plant that we finally put up a small information panel.

Pic6 Comfrey plot
Pic6 Comfrey plot

The Herbaceous Border is changing into summer display; yellow, rose and shades of lilac and purple are the dominant colours at the moment.

Pic7 Herbaceous Border beginning June
Pic7 Herbaceous Border beginning June
Pic8 Lilium ‘Yellow Turks
Pic8 Lilium ‘Yellow Turks
Pic9 Hosta sieboldiana
Pic9 Hosta sieboldiana
Pic10 Oriental Poppy – Papaver orientale ‘Beauty of Livermere’
Pic10 Oriental Poppy – Papaver orientale ‘Beauty of Livermere’

The candelabra primulas in the fernery are still flowering and they really brighten up this shady area along the stream. Another very useful plant to use in shady areas is Astelia, in our case Astelia nervosa. The long linear and light green leaves look very architectual, the plant is evergreen and the flowers have an interesting appearance.

Pic11 In the fernery
Pic11 In the fernery
Pic12 Astelia
Pic12 Astelia

Sadly our garden cat Lara, with us for over 16! years and well known for her friendliness to tourists, is gone from us. We believe she went into he woods to find a quite spot to go into ‘cats heaven’. We will miss her!

Pic13 Our Lara
Pic13 Our Lara

Below few more pictures of the garden and its surroundings!

Pic14 Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’
Pic14 Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’
Pic15 Flower of Phormium
Pic15 Flower of Phormium
Pic16 Azalea in front of Head Gardener House
Pic16 Azalea in front of Head Gardener House
Pic17  The willow dome at the Teahouse
Pic17 The willow dome at the Teahouse

Your Head Gardener 
Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in June:

To Sow / Propagate:
~ Thin out carrots and parsnips, protect against carrot fly
~ Take softwood cuttings of shrubs
~ Continue sowing and planting lettuce for succession planting

To plant:
~ Plant out pumpkins, marrows and French / Runner beans
~ Plant more radishes
To maintain & prune & feed:
~ 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 other creatures

Garden Diary for May 2014

Welcome back to our May edition of the garden blog of the walled garden of Kylemore Abbey.
The last of our tulips, especially the lovely red variety ’Cardinal Red’, were more or less “beheaded” during the last stormy weekend. In perfect conditions they could have lasted another two weeks at least. Thankfully I took pictures before the blossom show was finished.

Pic1 Spring display with Tulip ‘Cardinal Red’
Pic1 Spring display with Tulip ‘Cardinal Red’
Pic2 Tulip wallichiana
Pic2 Tulip wallichiana

So we decided to start to plant out our summer bedding which is well advanced this year. Seed germination was particularly good this spring. The wet and cold conditions we are experiencing at the moment are a bit of a hinderance. We try to plant when it is dry enough which means we have to juggle around with our routine work a bit.

Pic3 Bed ready for planting
Pic3 Bed ready for planting

The blown off blossom of the crab apple trees looks like snow from last winter on the meadow. I hope the bees managed to get around on time… A nice crop of apples, plums and pears would be nice this year. Last year was not very successful, only our soft fruits did well. It must be a good year for cherries, though. We never saw such an abundance of Cherry blossom, especially on the Morello cherries (sour variety). It also would be the first season ever to actually get a plentiful crop of cherries on the espaliers. I nearly gave up on them, always thinking the rather shady and damp spot is not suitable for them. It will be interesting to see the outcome; they may still have to be transplanted.

Pic4 Blossom of our Crab apples
Pic4 Blossom of our Crab apples
Pic5 Still very green cherries
Pic5 Still very green cherries

I always liked the look of the newly emerging leave buds of shrubs, perennials or ferns. It feels like that the last dreadful winter never happened (I mean the horrible weather conditions of course!). The different shapes and fresh colours are so unique to every plant, nothing looks the same.

Pic6 New leaves of Hosta sieboldiana
Pic6 New leaves of Hosta sieboldiana
Pic7 Young leaves of Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)
Pic7 Young leaves of Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)
Pic8 A fern is enrolling its new leaves
Pic8 A fern is enrolling its new leaves

The Vegetable garden is nearly planted up, few more Cabbages, Parsley and later on the Carrots and Parsnips need to be planted.
The Marrows, Courgettes and Pumpkins have time until June, the later the better to ensure dry and warm weather (wishful thinking!).
The leafy shoots of the potatoes are getting mounded around at the moment. This process will be repeated every couple of weeks. This process is also called ‘Earthing up’ and will increase the length of the underground stems which will eventually bear the potatoes.

Pic9 Ulick is ‘earthing up’
Pic9 Ulick is ‘earthing up’

Our Herbaceous Border is starting to develop its summer layout. Plants are filling out the empty spaces and the first ones are in bloom; mainly pink to blue flowering herbaceous like Iris, Geranium and Persicaria.

Pic10 Herbaceous Border beginning May
Pic10 Herbaceous Border beginning May

The Fernery is always a kind of secret place within the walled garden . Nestled along the stream between the formal flower garden and the 2 acre vegetable garden it is a place to rest, reflect and even hide, like in Victorian times when ‘Hide & Seek’ was one of the favourite pastime activities among the adults! A lovely late spring flowering bulb is Leucojum aestivum, the Summer Snowflake. It is very easy to grow, in all kind of conditions.

Pic11 Summer Snowflake
Pic11 Summer Snowflake
Pic12 A place to rest – the Fernery
Pic12 A place to rest – the Fernery

Once again we started to sell freshly picked herbs for herbal teas in our Tea house; situated just outside the Walled garden and facing the impressive Diamond hill.

Pic 13 Fresh Mint for sale
Pic 13 Fresh Mint for sale

I hope the weather improves soon so we can enjoy the beauty of the garden world.

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
~ Continue sowing lettuce for succession planting (every 10 days)
~ 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
~ Keep records of successful/unsuccessful spring planting areas for next years spring season
~ Aerate and sand lawns if not done earlier

Garden Diary for April 2014

April’s fool’s day is over and April weather started! Gorgeous yesterday, the warmest day so far; horrible today! Well, no reason to mourn, there is plenty of work to be done inside the glasshouse at the moment.
Our potting benches are nearly overflowing with trays and we need a very strict time table to get through the whole lot. Once potted on and left few days inside the glasshouse the more hardy plants will be moved out under the coldframes.

Pic1 ‘Potting time’
Pic1 ‘Potting time’
Pic2 Coldframes
Pic2 Coldframes

Our willow nursery got a hard cutting back last week. The fresh willow will be used to repair our willow structure outside the teahouse and for supports for the next generation of sweet peas. Dried willow will be later on used in our Herbaceous Border to support taller varieties of perennials.

Pic3 Harvested & graded willow
Pic3 Harvested & graded willow

Our vegetable garden is getting planted up bit by bit. The dark soil in the freshly rotovated plots looks very fertile and clean and it is hard to imagine that only in a couple of weeks most plots will be covered with all kind of crops.

Pic4 Newly planted potato plot
Pic4 Newly planted potato plot
Pic5 Broad beans waiting to be planted
Pic5 Broad beans waiting to be planted

We also prepared new ridges and planted out our heritage varieties of strawberries. The variety ‘Royal Sovereign’ (Fragasia x ananassa) dating from 1892, was bred by Thomas Laxton, who can be considered the ‘father’ of the modern strawberry. We also planted a couple of the wild or wood strawberries (Fragaria vesca), which has much smaller fruits. The wild strawberry was the predecessor of the modern strawberry and was bred the first time in Brittany in France around 1750.

Pic6 Newly planted Strawberry ridges
Pic6 Newly planted Strawberry ridges

Finally the main bulk of our spring flowers emerged and started to flower nicely throughout the flower garden.
Fritillaria imperalis ’Aurora’, the orange flowering Crown Imperial and ‘Maxima Lutea’, the yellow variety are just starting to open up their huge flower heads. We actually had to move the orange one inside the vinery for shelter. They were planted in terracotta pots and were not stable enough to be left out during strong winds. We also staked all the flower stems for support.

Pic7 Crown Imperial ‘Aurora’
Pic7 Crown Imperial ‘Aurora’
Pic8 Crown Imperial ‘Maxima Lutea’
Pic8 Crown Imperial ‘Maxima Lutea’

Also the yellow flowering Hyacinth ‘City of Haarlem, dating back to 1893, Fritillaria meleagris (Snake heads fritillaria) and Narcissus ‘Butter & Eggs’ add to the flowering display at the moment.

Pic9 Hyacinth ‘City of Haarlem’
Pic9 Hyacinth ‘City of Haarlem’
Pic10 Narcissus ‘Butter & Eggs’
Pic10 Narcissus ‘Butter & Eggs’
Pic11 Snake heads fritillaria
Pic11 Snake heads fritillaria

The frosty nights are over (so I hope!) and we started to move out tender plants like palms. The sheltered space inside the vinery is needed for pelargoniums and fuchsias.

Pic12 Tender plants enjoy fresh air
Pic12 Tender plants enjoy fresh air

The herbaceous border is also getting a makeover. Tidied, top dressed with our own well-rotted compost and fed with chicken manure…the new growing season can start!

Pic13 Herbaceous border is getting manured
Pic13 Herbaceous border is getting manured

There a plenty of spring flowers on the grounds of Kylemore leading to the Walled Garden, too. Just in front of our crafty shop is a nice window box with a selection of colourful bedding plants. This is easy enough to achieve and everybody can create a spring feeling at home by planting up all types of boxes, buckets or pots with a variety of spring bulbs and plants.

Pic14 Spring display at the Kylemore Craft Shop
Pic14 Spring display at the Kylemore Craft Shop

Your Head Gardener
Anja Gohlke

Things you can do in your garden in April:

To Sow / Propagate:

~ Continue potting on and harden off bedding plants
~ Continue sowing later summer beddings
~ Sow Tomatoes and Cucumber in modules
~ Continue sowing lettuce for succession planting
~ Sow carrots in situ later in the month

To plant:
~ Plant out sweet peas and put up climbing supports
~ Plant out peas, mangetouts and spring onion
~ Plant main crop potatoes
~ Plant herbaceous plants

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Clean and prepare Hanging Baskets for May planting
~ Continue lawn care like aerating and sanding, feeding and weeding
~ Sow new lawns or top dress and resow damaged patches
~ Start to trim formal box and fuchsia hedges

Garden Diary for March 2014

March is in full swing and so are our garden activities. Greenhouse work is top priority at the moment, which means sowing, potting, watering, watching for diseases and little unwanted creatures.

Pic1 A busy place
Pic1 A busy place

Speaking about creatures, we just successfully eliminated a small colony of mice. They got a taste for our spring bulbs which are now sitting half eaten in nice terracotta pots. Our two garden cats are getting old and are not up to big mice hunting anymore.

Anyway, the mice did not get all bulbs and our first Hyacinths are just opening up their pale pink flower heads. The variety ‘Ann Mary’ has this old fashioned delicate look and goes well with shades of dark blue for example.

Pic2 Hyacinth ‘Ann Mary’
Pic2 Hyacinth ‘Ann Mary’
Pic3 Blue Hyacinth
Pic3 Blue Hyacinth

The stunning Crocus vernus ‘King of Striped’, an old garden favourite, is in full bloom and bands of  amethyst-violet colour are running from north to south in the flower garden. This type of Crocus is not demanding and flowers every year without failure.

Pic4 Bands of Crocus vernus ‘King of Striped’
Pic4 Bands of Crocus vernus ‘King of Striped’
Pic5 Vibrant colours of Crocus
Pic5 Vibrant colours of Crocus

If the weather plays along we have to do a lot of tidying at the moment. Every bed is getting a cleaning job done; old leaves, broken branches and other debris is getting removed. Our first students just started their placement here with us and the extra help is welcomed at the moment.

Pic6 Maintaining a flower bed
Pic6 Maintaining a flower bed

One of our three Rhubarb plots is dug up and reduced in size. New timber edging will keep the outline tidy and makes it easier to maintain. The dug up Rhubarb is left on a plastic sheet for the moment and will be divided and replanted when the ridges are prepared.

Pic7 New Rhubarb plot
Pic7 New Rhubarb plot
Pic8 Waiting to be replanted
Pic8 Waiting to be replanted

It is also this time of year where you can harvest willow if you have a plantation. Ours is about 6 years old and supplies us every year with a good crop of strong willow. The willow is used for plant supports later on or for play structures like a willow tent which needs to be repaired after the winter storms.

Pic9 Willow plantation
Pic9 Willow plantation

It is not too late to plant bare-rooted shrubs or trees. Nurseries are still supplying these as long as the temperatures stay low enough. A newly planted hedge of Portuguese laurel, a nice evergreen shrub with reddish branches, will green up the area around the Head Gardeners House.

Pic10 New Portuguese laurel hedge
Pic10 New Portuguese laurel hedge

We just finished our National Tree Planting Week today. Three local schools came to us and planted tree saplings like Oak and Sycamore. It was a joy to have these enthusiastic kids planting trees and we had to stop a few arguments about who will have the next go on the spade!

Pic11 “Hands on!”
Pic11 “Hands on!”

Enjoy the first signs of spring!

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in March:

 

To Sow / Propagate:

~ Sow first potatoes around St. Patricks Day, Seaweed is a good fertilizer

~ Harden off first vegetables like Broad beans, Lettuce or Kale in cold frames

~ Pot on seedlings into potting compost  when big enough

~ First sowing of green manure into prepard plots  like Phacelia or Mustard

~ Take cuttings Pelargonium, Fuchsia

 

To plant:

~ Last chance to plant bare- rooted shrubs, roses and trees

~ Plant advanced Broad beans and stake them well

~ Plant or transplant perennials in borders

~ Divide & replant chives (also great in borders and good for black flies on roses)

 

To maintain & prune & feed:

~ Prune Hydrangea, not too severe to ensure they will flower this year

~ Last chance to prune Gooseberries

~ Feed all fruit trees and bushes with potash

~ Feed flower borders with chicken pellets

~ Feed Spring Cabbages with Seaweed powder

~ Cut back Willow for later use

Garden Diary for February 2014

A very warm welcome to all readers of our monthly garden blog from the Victorian Walled Garden in Kylemore Abbey. Let’s hope we will have a good year ahead, with plenty of sunshine of course!

First things first – the weather! It is bad! Saying this we are still doing quite ok out here in the Wild West. Minor floods, washed away paths and unfortunately a few fallen trees. But it could be worse if you look at places like Cork with immense floods.

Such weather makes gardening a bit more challenging these days and at the moment there is no end to these weather conditions in sight.

A good few flower beds are under water and it will be a surprise to see how many spring bedding will flower. We kept few backup plants in cold frames as replacements.

Pic1 A fallen Giant – Elm tree
Pic1 A fallen Giant – Elm tree

The first Snowdrops are flowering in our fernery, which I am very glad to see. We lost many in the recent years, either they rotted in the wet ground or were eaten by little creatures. The varieties we grow are Galanthus nivalis, Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Plena’, Galanthus elwesii and  Galathus plicatus.

Pic2 Snowdrops (Galanthus) in our fernery
Pic2 Snowdrops (Galanthus) in our fernery

The snowdrops are accompanied by yellow flowering winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis), which were planted last autumn. Both are one of the first spring bulbs to flower and use the light and sunshine coming through the leafless tress. A dull looking woodland can be brightened up nicely with early flowering ground cover plants like these two. Later on they will be replaced by wood anemones and bluebells.

Pic3 Winter Aconite
Pic3 Winter Aconite

The first Crocus and  Helleborus are also flowering for the last couple of weeks. So there is a bit going on in the ‘Flowering World’ already.

Pic4 Crosus chrysanthus ‘Fuscotinctus’
Pic4 Crosus chrysanthus ‘Fuscotinctus’
Pic5 Helleborus angustifolius
Pic5 Helleborus angustifolius

Winter season in a garden means a lot of digging work. This year we tackled our rose bed. To aerate and de-compact the whole bed we dug it over with a fork and mixed in a fair amount of our own well-rotted Farm Yard Manure. This will give the roses the needed boost. I also ordered new roses to go into this bed; a few older ones need to be replaced. Heirloom varieties of Tea, Hybrid Perpetual, Moss and China roses should flower nicely later on in the season. Digging in our garden also means treasure hunting! It is very seldom that we don’t come across a few pieces from the past such as bottles, clay pipes, glass from the original glasshouses or even animal bones, which were used as a fertilizer during Victorian times.

Pic6 Newly prepared rose bed
Pic6 Newly prepared rose bed
Pic7 ‘Artefacts’ found during digging
Pic7 ‘Artefacts’ found during digging

Our spring cabbages are standing strong despite the severe weather conditions and the first rhubarb stalks are peeping through the layer of manure. One of the older Rhubarb plots will be dug up and replaced with new crowns divided from a different plot.

Pic8 Spring cabbages
Pic8 Spring cabbages
Pic9 The first Rhubarb
Pic9 The first Rhubarb

We received the first flower and vegetable seeds for our coming propagation  season  and it is a very time consuming job to sort and file them in our record cards and put them alphabetically  into boxes until sowing time. We have sown the first batch of Lettuce ‘Winter Density’and ‘Paris Island Cos’ and Spring onion ‘White Lisbon’ into modules in our propagation glasshouse. Next week we will start to propagate our Heritage varieties of Sweetpeas.

The last image is showing the bridge over to the Herbaceous Border and the Vegetable Garden on a nice sunny day; something very rare during these days!

Pic10 A bit of sunshine
Pic10 A bit of sunshine

Below are few tips for gardening in February as usual.

 

Slan and happy digging from

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in February

To Sow / Propagate:

~ Start to sow summer bedding and vegetables seeds indoor

~ Start Dahlia tubers in pots

~ Move seed potatoes into light for chitting

 To plant:

~ Continue to lift, divide and replant herbaceous plants

~ Transfer and plant Snowdrops after flowering

~ Continue to plant trees, shrubs and roses

 To harvest:

~ Last of Parsnips, Leeks, Swedes and Beetroots

To maintain & prune & feed:

~ Prune woody plants like Buddleja hard back

~ Fertilize roses with well-rotted Farm Yard Manure

~ Maintain, sharpen and repair tools etc., clean pots and trays

~ Prepare ridges in vegetable garden for first crops

~ Lawns could get first cut if ground is suitable and not too wet