Welcome back to our mid-summer Garden Blog of the Victorian Walled Garden here in Kylemore Abbey.
July is nearly over and we are in full swing of typical high-season garden work like planting, maintaining and harvesting of Vegetables and managing the Formal Flower Garden including the Herb Garden, the Rockery, the Cut flowers or the Fern garden.
Our first vegetable sale went successful and our staff working here in Kylemore in all the different departments are happy to purchase fresh greens from the Walled Garden. All proceeds will go to the Hospice in Galway like in recent years. Cabbages, potatoes, peas, kales, leaf beets, spring onions and onions are all part of the mixed vegetable bag for sale.
Pic1 Mixed Heritage Vegetable crate
Pic2 Freshly harvested potatoes ‘Epicure’, an old heritage potato variety from the 19th century and spring cabbages
We had to wait few days to get a dry spell for pulling and drying the onions. I think it always looks very satisfactory when the onions are laid out.
Pic3 Onions laid out for drying
The pumpkins and courgettes are looking for a bit more heat and sunshine at the moment, too. Courgettes like the ‘Long White Bush’ below, are always doing much better then our pumpkins.
The straw will prevent the courgettes from rotting on the wet soil and also acts as a natural mulch. It is advisable to mix the straw into the soil at the end of the growing season to improve the soil structure.
Pic4 Courgette ‘Long White Bush’ on a bed of straw
Our Pineapple lilies, Eucomis bicolor, in front of the Head Gardeners House are showing a very strong display this summer. This eye-catching bulbous perennial is an easy to grow and carefree plant when grown in a sunny and partly sheltered spot and looks well when grown in combination with African lilies for example.
Pic5 Pineapple lilies in front of the Head Gardeners House
The Flower Garden is on its peak at the moment. Strong bands of colours are in stark contrast to the green of the formal lawns. Planted in a rigid system like the Victorian did over 120 years ago, it gives you a good idea about the garden fashion back then. Whites, blues, yellows and reds are within the main colour scheme used. The setting and topography of the Walled Garden seems quite dramatic sometimes, especially on a cloudy day when the sky changes every few minutes.
Pic6 Formal Flower Garden with annual summer display
Pic7 Blue Lobelia ‘Chrystal Palace’, yellow Tagetes tenuifola and maroon and white Antirrhinum ‘Night & Day’ with a Chusab Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) as dot plant
Cannas were also favourite dot plants in Victorian times. The lushness of the leafs creates a lovely contrast to the annual summer bedding, especially the red tinged leaves of Canna iridiflora. Cannas were often used instead of Banana plants since Cannas would be more hardy but still bring a hint of a tropical feeling to the garden. The leaves of Banana plants would be shredded into pieces during stormy weather here in Kylemore.
Pic8 Summer bedding layout in the Parterre
One important part in every Victorian Walled Garden would be the Cut flower section.
We grow several types of annual, biannual and perennial Cut flowers. They are used for decorating the tables in the Abbey or the restaurant.
Pic9 Phlox, Chrysanthemums, Helichrysums, Antirrhinums, Inulas, Hemerocallis and many more
Our glasshouse is homing mainly tomatoes and cucumbers at the moment. The main propagation period for the spring bedding plants for the coming spring season will start mid to end August.
Old heritage varieties like the round and yellow cucumber ‘ Chrystal Lemon’ or ‘Vert Petit de Paris’ from 1885, a gerkin, need the heat in the glasshouse to fully develop.
Pic10 Gerkin ‘Vert Petit de Paris’
Pic11 Cucumber ‘Chrystal Lemon’, the cucumber is the size of a tennis ball when fully grown and has a juicy and sweet flavour
Other inhabitants in our glasshouse are our two cats Jenny and Jacky. They obviously don’t like the vast space which the glasshouse presents and squeeze into the tiniest bucket. The daily watering of the glasshouse plants will normally wake them up!
Pic12 Jenny (white) and Jacky
I will be back with more news and stories from the Walled Garden in August. More gardening tips below, until then, happy gardening everybody!
Your Head Gardener
Things you can do in your garden in July:
To Sow / Propagate:
~ Sow more Green Manures like Phacelia to cover plots; lovely for wildlife when flowering
~ Sow radicchio, spring cabbages like ‘April’ or Curley Kales for over wintering crops
~ Take cuttings of non-flowering shoots of Santolina, Dianthus, Pelargonium, Hydrangea or Fuchsia
~ Keep planting Lettuces, Spring Onions and Raddishes
~ Replace summer bedding if necessary
~ Mangetouts, Peas, Broad beans
~ Main Potatoes
~ Lettuce, Spinach, Leaf beet, Spring Onion
~ Herbs for drying or for fresh herbal teas like Sage or Mint
To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Feeding of glasshouse plants
~ Regularly dead heading of bedding plants 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, blight
~ Summer feeding of lawns