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Early Summer Garden Blog from Kylemore Abbey Garden

Gardener's Blog
Monday, 15 July 2024
Welcome back to our early summer garden blog from the Victorian Walled Garden in Kylemore Abbey.
The summer bedding and Herbaceous Border is finally coming into bloom. The late and cold spring delayed our annual displays in the Flower and Vegetable Garden considerably by a good few weeks. This clearly shows our dependency on the right weather conditions, especially out here in the west of Ireland, only five kilometers away from the Atlantic.

Pic 1: Wedding Cake Tree
Here is a stunning, small growing tree, not to be missed known as the ‘Wedding Cake’ tree, or botanically known as Cornus Controversa. Its architectural tiered appearance is a showstopper in any garden setting, and is ideally planted in a solitary position. Our Cornus was planted in 2015 by Frank Keane at his retirement celebration. Frank, a local man from down the road, worked long before the garden restoration started in 1995, in Kylemore, as generations before him.  We are happy that ‘his’ tree did so well in our challenging climate. The contrast of the white blossom to the red brick wall is particularly nice and let it stands out even more. The wall is also offering important shelter and a bit more heat for the tree to thrive well.
Pic 2: Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’, our reliable heritage Clematis had huge flowers end of May.
This clematis variety was bred by Marcel Moser in France in 1897. The Moser family was one of the most successful plant breeders in Europe at that time and ‘Nelly Moser’ was one of the first to be bred with the contrasting-coloured bars. ‘Nelly Moser’ is climbing on the original cast iron columns in our Parterre and is complementing the climbers on the other columns, Wisteria and roses.
Pic 3: Our Wisteria sinensis had also a lovely abundant flower display.
If you want to grow Wisterias, you need patience.  It took us many years, nearly fifteen, to finally achieve the desired ‘waterfall’ effect. Wisterias' need a good bit of annual trimming and training; long shoots grow nearly over-night and look like tentacles. New and unwanted shoots should be cut back harder during the winter months.

The Herbaceous Border is never short of work, a fulltime employment, so to speak. I am in the middle of the annual plant ‘stock take’. Every plant position needs to be checked and if necessary, altered and adjusted. The updated list is available for down-loading on our website or on a QR code in the border. To give you an idea, our double border is nearly 80 meters long, so 160 meters in total. That gives us 640 plant positions which need to be checked. Few plants species like Lysimachia punctata are just trying their best to get rid of their neighbours and are nearly swallowing them completely. So, a bit of digging is needed to bring them back into light and life, and the invasive ones will be removedWe are also planting biannuals and short live perennials like Digitalis, Verbascum or Altheas on an annual basis. All these heritage varieties were propagated in our restored glasshouse on site. We also noticed this year that beneficial insects like hoverflies and bumble bees are loving specific herbaceous plants a lot more then others.
Our own produced compost must be very rich this season. We are spreading the compost onto the borders before the main growths starts. I have never seen our oriental poppy flowers as big. I put my hand beside it to give an idea. Also, the flower heads lasted a long time. 
Sadly it is very windy at the moment, I am afraid that was the last of them.

Pic 4: Digitalis Grandiflora (formerly Ambigua), Bumble bees love all types of Foxgloves.
Pic 5: Hoverflies on Tanacetum macrophyllum.
Pic 6: Papaver Orientale ‘Beauty of Livermere’ – Oriental Poppy.  

The vegetable crops are slowly covering the ridges, we harvested lovely cos and butterhead lettuces few days ago. new generation of heritage lettuces got sown few days ago to fill the gaps. Also, the last of the pumpkins, including two old Japanese varieties, got planted. heat and sun to let them produce good size pumpkins.
Pic 7: One of our four Brassica Plots with a cover of seaweed.
Pic 8: Globe Artichokes and Fennel give also lovely architectural interest
This is all the garden news for now, we have a busy summer season ahead of us.

Your Head Gardener,
Anja Gohlke.