Welcome back to our monthly garden blog from the Walled Garden of Kylemore Abbey for 2018.
The official start of the Irish spring time only happened on the Calender this year. We experienced very cold conditions in the last few days with sleet, hail and even a bit of snow. That will put a hold on our annual spring display, many Bellis, Daffodils and Crocuses have started to bloom already. Saying this, it is also a lovely time to take pictures with a sprinkle of snow in it, especially around here where snow is rather rare.
Pic1 Melting snow on our new set of cold frames in front of the propagation glasshouse
Talking about snow, the first snowdrops are flowering nicely in the fernery once again. They are really the sign that the new garden season has began. We did a lot of work in the fernery this winter.A few stronger growing ferns like Blechnum chilense, the Chilean hard fern, overgrew smaller varieties and needed to be reduced.
Also, to our surprise one of our treeferns which we thought we had lost during the big freeze in 2010 produced a lovely healthy looking side shoot which we did not noticed for a long time. So a garden can be full of suprises.
Pic2 Snowdrops in the fernery
Pic3 View from the bridge into the fernery
The Vegetable Garden is still in hibernation mode. The ground is very wet and crops like Curley Kale, Chard or Spring Cabbage which stayed in the plots during the winter montsh are holding the soil together.
It is time to put the first seed potatoes for sprouting into the light. Another month and its time to plant the first early ones. We spread ours on trays in the tunnel. That will give them enough light to sprout. ‘Epicure’, Duke of York’, ‘May Queen’ and ‘Sharps Express’ will be the first ones going out.
We also started our yearly marathon of seed sowing. The first vegetable seeds like Spring Onions ‘White Lisbon’, different Cabbages and Lettuces were sown in our propagation glasshouse. More will follow from now on every week until the glasshouse is packed with seed trays.
Like every year the Rhubarb is putting out its first tender stalks already. The crowns are still protected by a layer of rotted manure so the recent frost won’t do them any harm.
Pic4 First Rhubarb stalks covered with snow
I ordered a variety of old Rhododendren varieties a while ago and we planted them into the woodland inside the garden and also into a new planting area outside our main east gate. These varieties like Rhododendron falconeri or Rhododendron grande originate in Bhutan, China or Nepal and were introduced to Europe by the great botanist,plant hunter and explorer Joseph Dalton Hooker in 1850. Hooker went to the Himalayas for a plant expedition for three years and brought back many different Rhododendren varieties, especially from the Sikkim valley. His story is quite fascinating and it is great to be able to still buy these plants nowadays. So hopefully our newly planted Rhododendron will soon flower as nicely as one of our other old hybrids last May, Rhododendron ‘Pink Pearl’, dating back to 1897.
Pic5 Rhododdendron ‘Pink Perl’ last May
There are plenty of other jobs which still need to be done at this time of year.
We are in the middle of pruning all Apple and Pear trees. A slow enough job since the Pear trees are trained as Espaliers along the garden walls and need special attention when it comes down to pruning.
The wild Rhododendron (ponticum) clearing is slowly coming to its end for this winter. We managed to clear a big area on the mountain side on the way over to the restored Gothic Church. The now exposed trees and mountain streams are lovely to look at and let somebody imagine the original layout of the estate before the Rhododendren took over.
Pic6 Cleared woodland on Kylemore estate
Below are the usual monthly garden tips and few more images of Kylemore in winter (‘spring’!).
Pic 7 View from Formal Flower Garden to Diamond Hill early morning
Pic 8 View over Pollacappul Lake
Pic 8 Our little friends!
Your Head Gardener
Things you can do in your garden in February/beginning March:
To Sow / Propagate:
~ Start to sow summer bedding and vegetables seeds in modules indoor
~ Chit first early potatoes like ‘Epicure’, ‘Duke of York’ or ‘Sharps Express’
~ Pot on and feed potted plants
~ Plant new shrubs or groundcover plants in borders
~ Perfect time to plant bare-rooted fruit trees or hedges
~ Continue to lift, divide and replant herbaceous plants
~ Transfer and plant Snowdrops after flowering
~ Last of Leeks, Spinach, Parsnips, Curley Kale, Jerusalem Artichokes
To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Prune shrubs like Buddleia back hard
~ Fertilize soft fruits, roses and vine plants with well-rotted Farm Yard Manure
~ Maintain, sharpen and repair tools etc., clean pots and trays
~ Prepare ridges in vegetable garden for first crops end of the month
~ Lawns could get first cut on high setting if ground is suitable and not too wet or frozen
~ Power wash all hard surfaces and treat for moss early March