The last of the autumn colours are fading and it is time to prepare for the winter season here behind the walls of the Victorian Walled Garden in Kylemore Abbey.
We already experienced night frosts and cold snaps which seems quite early for us here on the western shores of Ireland. It is time to move in all tender plants, to re-pot plants which were left outside for the last season, to feed them and to clear and cut down old growth. Cannas for examples are dug up from their positions in flower beds and put in crates with a cover of compost around the root stocks and kept in the glasshouses.
Pic1 The last of autumn colours in the Formal Flower Garden
Pic2 Tender plants in our Vinery
Now is the time to sort out harvested seeds. Make sure they are probably dried when putting them into seed packets . They should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place, away from mice! It is also no harm to check them once a while in case they are molding in the packet which could lead to loosing all other seeds in the same packet.
Pic3 Bean pods for drying off, seeds will be taken out later for further drying
We also harvested our one and only melon ‘Ananas’ few days ago. Nearly overripe, it still tasted very juicy with a hint of Pineapple. ‘Ananas’ translates into Pineapple from German or French. I kept the seeds for drying so hopefully we will be able to grow more next year.
Pic4 The seeds of our melon ‘Ananas’
Our pumpkins are also holding out so far. They just give a nice splash of colour to the otherwise rather dull looking Vegetable Garden at the moment. They will turn into mush once they are exposed to more frost though so we better move them in soon.
Pic5 The last of the marrows and pumpkins
We are nearly finished with our extensive spring bulb planting scheme for this year. Thousands of heritage bulbs like Tulips, Narcissus, Snow Drops, Fritillarias, Crocuses or Gladiolus were planted inside and outside the garden walls.
We also started a bulb planting scheme on the vast grounds along the garden avenue to the Walled Garden in an area which was cleaned from the invasive Rhododendron ponticum few years ago. Lets hope the birds wont dig up too many this winter, one of the problems we have had during the last few years. We planted close to 5000 bulbs in this area. If this proves successful we will continue next autumn and pick another cleared area.
Pic6 Tulip and Gladiolus bulbs laid out and ready for planting in one of the formal bedding schemes in the Walled Garden
Pic7 The last of our spring bulbs which are kept upstairs in our Bothy
One thing which always strikes me here in Connemara is the autumn colour of the surrounding landscape. Taking pictures on a regular base means few challenges, especially during the summer months with the glaring sun. The low sun during the off season helps in capturing natures best.
Pic8 View from the National Park over to Kylemore Abbey
Near our main entrance to the Walled Garden are these two stunning looking trees, a Monterey Pine and a Monterey Cypress. Both are well over 140 years old and the most fascinating detail for me is the ancient looking bark, covered in lichens and moss. These trees were planted during the establishment of Kylemore Castle and the Walled Garden around 1870. Both varieties are non native conifers imported from the Monterey County in California close to the Pacific .
Pic9 Monterey Pine (front) and Monterey Cypress
We were holding our traditional Halloween event once again at the end of October within the garden perimeters. The weather could not have been better and young and old were celebrating ‘Samhain’, the Celtic New Year.
Pic10 Traditional carving of turnip lanterns which is a bit tougher then carving pumpkins
Pic11 The wise woman in our Bothy
Pic12 The widow cooking potatoes for Colcannon and also for handing them out against evil spirits
Pic13 Our two story tellers created thrills and few chills….
Pic14 Fiona, our last garden student and also a professional florist created lovely autumnal bouquets for the visitors
Pic15 The highlight of the event, the Bonfire at the end with traditional music, sean nos dancing, pucas and a bit of craic!
I will be back with more news from the Walled Garden here in Kylemore in December. We will stay busy until then, slán.
Your Head Gardener
Things you can do in your garden in November / December
To Sow / Propagate:
~ First indoor sowing of Broad beans and Lettuces
~ Sow perennial seeds
~ Plant bare-rooted trees, roses and fruit trees
~ Divide and replant herbaceous perennials, make sure weeds like scotch grass is removed before replanting
~ Kale & Cabbages
~ Leeks, Spinach or Leaf beets
To maintain & prune & feed:
~Frost protect water taps, move watering hoses indoor
~ Clean and tidy potting sheds, tool sheds, propagation trays, pots etc.
~Build coldframes for raising early crops under glass
~ Start winter pruning of Apple & Pear trees
~ Prune deciduous trees and shrubs after flowering for a balanced shape
~ Prune climbing roses by half
~ Check on stored Potatoes, bulbs and fruits for diseases and dispose affected ones
~ Check Apple and Pear trees for sign of canker and cut out if occurring
~ Prune Grape vines, leave about two to three buds of laterals (side shoots of this years growths)
~ Clean up Herbaceous Borders, cut down old growths
~Plan next year seasons,eg. crop rotation plans