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July 2022

Head Gardeners Blog July August 2022

Gardener's Blog
Monday, 15 August 2022

Could we ask for nicer summer weather then we experience at the moment?

As gardeners and keepers of old heritage gardens I have to say, yes. There is that feeling that I go against the stream again, but… . Yes, there is always a but when it comes down to gardening. Simple answer, it is too dry!! So, we are spending early mornings with watering our thousands of mainly annual flowers and vegetables at the moments. Perennials are just a bit hardier since their roots are growing much deeper and not drying out so fast. Thankfully we have an automatic irrigation system which helps hugely, even so it has its mind of its own sometimes. Its like reading a dissertation work when going through the manual. 

We are very privileged to have our own lake on top of the mountain which is fed with rainwater. Mitchel Henry, the builder of Kylemore Abbey & Garden back in 1867, piped that water down to the Abbey and garden in cast iron pipes. These got replaced by the Benedictine nuns in the later years, but the system is still working like in the old days and makes our job here in the Victorian Walled Garden so much easier. What better way then using rainwater, many cities will have to rethink how rainwater can efficiently be saved! 

I started just after 7 am this morning, to water of cause, and the quite summer mornings with the sun rising behind the mountain range, has its own magical feeling here in Kylemore. I can understand why this walled garden was built just right here, facing the diamond hill across the far side.

Pic1 Sun rise over the Diamond Hill

So, what else is happing here behind the walls? 

We just held our first vegetable sale for our Kylemore staff here on site. Mixed vegetable bags are distributed to all departments, the raised money will go to the Hospice in Galway, like in recent years. First early potatoes (even so later then usual), broad beans, peas and mangetouts, spring onions, herbs, apples, lettuces, and radishes were among the selection. It is very rewarding to finally harvest the fruits of the past months labour, which started in February.

Pic2 Fresh vegetable bags from the Victorian Walled Garden ready to be shipped off to the other departments

Now is also our main time for picking and preparing cut flowers for decorating different locations here in Kylemore, such as the Mitchel room in the Abbey or our Head Gardeners House.

Our garden students are always roped in to harvest and prepare them, too. Friederike, one of our German garden students did a lovely job with the last ones!

Pic3 Cut flower bouquets 

Pic4 Flower display in the Head Gardener House

This year seems to be a good year for all types of soft fruits, too. 

The gooseberries and currants are already finished but other soft fruits like blackberries or Aronia berries, also called Choke berries, are still ripening. Aronia berries are easy and very decorative shrubs to grow, and the dark berries are full of good things and are one of the richest sources of plant antioxidants. The leaves are turning orange in autumn and work great in borders or even as an informal hedge.

Pic5 Aronia or Black Chokeberry – Aronia melanocarpa

Our fernery is very inviting at the moment, especially in this heat. The lush green of many different ferns, nestled under the old Horse chestnuts, and the sound of the passing by stream makes it an ideal place to rest.

Pic6 An relaxing resting place in our fernery

Pic7 Different shade loving plants like Rodgersia

The formal flower garden and herbaceous border are at their peak now, same as the vegetable garden. 

Strong colours of heritage plants, introduced up until 1901, are giving this very particular Victorian look.

Below a selection of the different bedding layouts from this summer.

Pic8 Whites, blues, and maroon colour spectrum in the “D-beds”

Pic9 Mixed colours in the centre with a blue outer edge of Lobelia ’Chrystal Palace’

Pic10 A carpet bed in front of the restored Vinery

Pic10 Subtropical plants like the Pineapple lily (Eucomus) or the African lily (Agapanthus) in front of the Head Gardeners House

Pic11 Strong colour combination between the bridge and the cottage rose

Pic12 The sunflower experiment succeeded!

That’s all for this blog from the Walled Garden here in Kylemore.

Autumn is just around the corner and its time to look at ordering spring bulbs and sowing spring bedding plants.

Our pig lady Gloria got a pedicure on her front hooves few days ago and is doing well again.

Pic13 Gloria is back from the Vet!

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke