In line with public health advice, Kylemore Abbey is currently closed.

Garden Blog May 2018

A ‘happy gardening’ welcome back to all our readers. We have hit our busiest time of year and planning each day  is crucial at the moment. Thousands of bedding plants, vegetables, cut flowers, herbs, rockery plants and herbaceous are waiting to be planted into their final positions. All of the sudden the weather is picking up and its quite warm, even hot during the day.

The last of the spring flowers are been taken out at the moment; despite the cold and wet spring we had a nice display which lasted a good few weeks. The picture below shows our Parterre still planted with spring bulbs and bedding from few days ago. The heavy rain a few weekends ago beheaded most Tulips and we were left with a rather sad display.

Pic1 The Parterre with Tulip ‘Peach Blossom’, Forget-me-nots and Bellis


We set up a display in our Vinery to inform the curious visitors about the many different spring flowers . This will be changed and updated with flowers in season regularly.

Pic2 Seasonal display of flowering plants like Tulips, Wallflowers or Fritillarias in our own Kylemore pottery made on site


Pic3 Tulip ‘Greenland’, a non Victorian newer variety outside the Walled Garden in front of the former Chaplains house; it’s a fantastic long lasting and tall Tulip which looks great in combination with the Buxus and the painted green window frames


Now is an important time for the ‘in between’ plants or early summer flowering plants. These will carry the flowering display over to the summer season. Perennials like Ajuga reptans, Centaurea montana or Camassias, Alliums and early flowering Lillies play an important role in our garden.

Pic4 Flowering Ajuga reptans (Blue Bugle) in our Vinery beds


Pic5 Cammasia cusickii (Quamash or Indian hyacinth) just opening up in the Herbaceous Border


Also the shrub border has plenty on offer at the moment. Some early flowering shrubs like Kerria japonica have finished by now and should be cut back. Others like Syringa (Lilac), Weigelia or Lamium, one of my favourite ground-cover plants, have taking over now. And not to forget Azaleas and Rhododendren cultivars of cause. They play a vital role in many woodland gardens throughout Ireland and England.

When you plan Borders make sure there is always interest throughout the year, achieved through flowers, the colour and texture of leaves or the winter colour of the bark.

Pic6 Flowering Lamium galeobdolon (Yellow archangel) as groundcover in our shrubborder



Pic7 Weigelia middendorffiana, a lovely pale yellow variety of Weigelias


Pic8 Syringa vulgaris ‘Charles Joly’ – Lilac


Pic9 Azalea ‘Norma’ in front of the Head Gardeners House


So what is happening in the Vegetable Garden at the moment?

We eventually finished the painstaking work of putting up all supports for the Broadbeans, Peas, Mangetouts and for the Climbing Runner and French Beans. The bamboo canes for the supports for the Runners need to be tied with a very strong wire in order to withstand the storms we experience sometimes. We spent a bit of time this yearo building permanent supports for the Broadbeans and peas so we can easily  dismantle and re-use them next year again.

Pic10 Bamboo canes for the Climbing Beans


The Brassica plot is doing well; the cover of fresh Seaweed kept the Cabbage rootfly away so far and is feeding the hungry plants at the same time. It seems to be also a curiosity to many visitors who never seen Seaweed before.

Pic11 Fresh Seaweed on Cabbages and Kales


The fruit trees seem to have an unusual amount of blossom this year. The Crab apples are like white clouds bordering the Vegetable garden and the pears and cherries are not short of blossom, too. I also noticed a good few bees around so hopefully we will have a good crop for harvesting.

Pic12 Apple blossom a few days before opening ; note the different types of  lichens which look amazing


Pic13 Our oldest apple tree ‘Golden Spire’ which is approximately 60 years old


Pic14 Fan trained Pear trees along the brick wall to the east of the garden


The Head Gardeners House is getting a new layer of paint at the moment and we are planing a small exhibition with botanical paintings from the garden by different artists.  The former Head Gardener, living and working in the house had a fantastic view from the house and could see every corner of the garden since the trees were only small back then. There was no ‘hiding’! Below is his work desk as it might had been back then.

Pic 15 Desk in office of former Head Gardeners House


Lets hope the summer will stay with us a bit longer, even so we are under pressure to get the watering of the many plants done every day!

I will be back with more news in June.


Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke


Things you can do in your garden in May:

To Sow / Propagate:
~ Sow Carrots and Parsnips (end May to avoid Carrot fly)
~ Succession sowing of radishes and lettuces

~ Pot on more annuals as backup plants
~ Take softwood and non-flowering cuttings of Fuchsia and Pelargonium
~ Take softwood cuttings of shrubs

To plant:

~ Plant out potted plants to prevent pot bound
~ Start to plant out summer bedding in final position and protect against slugs (try coffee ground)
~ Plant beans, chards and kales into final positions
~ Plant Tagetes and Calendula as companion plants between your crops to attract beneficial insects

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Water plants and lawns well in dry spells, mainly in mornings or evenings

~ Prune spring flowering shrubs like Weigelia or Forsythia after finishing flowering

~ Trim formal hedges of Buxus, Fuchsia or Escallonia and feed them
~ Take out spring bulbs for usage in different spots for coming season
~ Put up supports on taller perennials, broad beans and sweet peas