” In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.”
This quote, by the American Author and Humorist Mark Twain, describes perfectly our recent weather. Snow two weeks ago; summer heat and beach weather last week and very cold easterly winds this week. I feel with all horticulturists out there who experience the same conditions at the moment! It is like minding baby’s, making sure they are either not too cold or not too hot when brought outside. Most of our summer bedding and vegetable seedlings are moved out by now, few delicate ones are still in coldframes. Watering schedules are crucial and sometimes underestimated!
Pic1 Hardened off seedlings along the south-facing garden wall which was formerly the Peach Glasshouse
One of the fasted growing seedlings, once the seeds germinated, are beans. The picture below shows the seedlings of the climbing French bean ‘Cosse Violet’. I took these pictures 3 days apart from each other! Other seeds might need two weeks or longer, few need special treatment like cold spells and only germinate after 6 months. The average time for seed germination of annual flowers like Lobelia or Antirrhinum is 10 days, all depending on how warm the environment is. It is important to read the sowing instructions to succeed but that should not put you off in trying it out. Most annual plants and vegetables are very easy to grow and will provide beautiful flowers, vegetables and if desired, seeds afterwards.
Pic2 Germinated bean seed just starting to push through the soil level
Pic3 Same bean seedling three days later
The recent warm spell let the grapes start to flower, too. These flowers don’t need insects like bees for pollination since they bear male and female parts. The proper term for this type of plant is ‘hermaphrodite ‘, a name not easy to remember! We cut back all unwanted new side shoots to encourage the development of the grapes. It looks like we will have a nice bit of crop this year. The cold spell during the winter helped along. Our Heritage grapes are growing in the Vinery glasshouse, specially designed for vine plants during Victorian times; whereas the roots of these plants are growing outside, trained through open arches. This way the plants can get their nutrients from the soil outside but have the protection and heat for the grapes inside.
Pic4 The flowers of our vine plants, these will develop into grapes eventually
The first trees are also in bloom, like our Wych Elms. These seeds are out before the leaves appear and easy to spot. We will try to grow new elm trees for our estate from these seeds. Before they can be picked they need to turn brown, only then the seeds are ripe and ready. The seeds can be sown immediately after harvesting since they are not dormant.
The Wych Elm is the only elm tree native to Ireland and grows best in moist and humid conditions. Our climate here in Kylemore seems to be ideal, and newly planted trees thrive well in our temperate rainforest.
Pic5 Wych Elm flowers with the visible seed in the centre on one of our mature trees which are over 150 years old
The maincrop potatoes will be planted this week. ‘Pink Fir Apple’, introduced around 1880, is one of the heritage varieties we are planting. The tubers, shown below, were left singled out on a tray in our tunnel to sprout, or chit. Seed potatoes can be easily multiplied when cut in half, as long as enough eyes, the growing points, are left. This is a nice variety to use in potato salads, they also look quite unusual, a bit like Yacon, an edible perennial tuber from South America.
Pic6 Seed potatoes ‘Pink Fir Apple’ chitting in light
Our Vegetable plots are getting prepared and are partly planted already mainly with brassicas like kales, cabbages, broccoli’s or sprouts.
The paths in between will prevent compaction of the plots when hoeing and weeding. A layer of fresh seaweed will hopefully keep down the weeds while also feeding the plants with vital nutrients.
The spring cabbages on the right side were planted last summer and are getting harvested bit by bit.
Pic7 Newly prepared Vegetable plots ready for planting
Below are a few more spring impression from the Walled Garden, I will be back with more news in May.
Good Gardening everybody!
Pic8 Camassia or Quamash are flowering in front of the Head Gardener House
Pic9 Rhododedron arboreum, the tree Rhododendron, is in full bloom along the garden avenue. This plant is well over 120 years old and is not invasive like Rhododendron ponticum.
Pic10 Our climbing Pelargonium in the Vinery has an early flowering season this year
Pic11 Narcissus poeticus var.recurvus, the Poet’s daffodil, is one of the last flowering daffodil variety
Pic12 Tulip ‘Peach Blossom’, Tulip saxatiles and white Bellis in full bloom in the Parterre
Pic13 Tulip ‘Colour Cardinal’ and Tulip sylvestris in the formal flower garden
Pic14 The blossom of our crabapples are in abundance once again; somehow a ‘visitor’ sneaked in there…
Things you can do in your garden in May:
To Sow / Propagate:
~ Succession sowing of radishes and lettuces
~ Sow Carrots and Parsnips (end of May to avoid Carrot fly)
~ Take softwood and non-flowering cuttings of Fuchsia and Pelargonium
~ Take softwood cuttings of shrubs
~ Plant Tagetes and Calendula as companion plants between your crops to attract beneficial insects
~ Plant summer bedding in final position and protect against slugs (try coffee ground)
~ Plant out potted plants to prevent pot bounding
~ Plant runner beans and french beans on climbing supports
To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Trim formal hedges of Buxus, Fuchsia or Escallonia and feed them
~ Put up supports on taller perennials, broad beans and sweet peas
~ Water plants and lawns well in dry spells, mainly in mornings or evenings
~ Prune spring-flowering shrubs like Weigelia or Forsythia after finishing flowering