We are CLOSED

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

Garden diary April 2016

When I drove to work in the Walled Garden this morning I almost expected to hear Christmas songs on the car radio! A heavy shower of snow made the driving quite challenging even though it melted straight away. The deep hanging clouds created very dramatic scenery over the mountain range surrounding Kylemore. I had to stop few times to capture this very unusual weather spectacle.

Pic1 View from the garden to the mountain range minutes after it stopped snowing
Pic1 View from the garden to the mountain range minutes after it stopped snowing

I went straight to our outside thermometer which is located on the back wall of the vinery; 0°Celcius is not unusual for our region during the winter months but definitely for the beginning of April!

Pic2 It’s cold!
Pic2 It’s cold!

Everybody is wondering how much these cold conditions will affect the growing season this summer. One thing is for sure, it will be a late season in my estimation.
It was one of the best early spring times for the daffodils so far; I can’t remember the flower display lasting for such a long time before.
Our tulips on the other side have a very late start this spring. Our early flowering tulip varieties like Tulip ‘Peach Blossom’ have just started to open up their buds. The later varieties were already in full bloom same time around last year.

Pic3 First display of Tulip ‘Peach Blossom’
Pic3 First display of Tulip ‘Peach Blossom’

A Darwin Hybrid mix was planted just outside the main restaurant last October and came up nicely along the sheltering wall. These early to mid-spring single flowering tulips can grow up to 60 cm and are great as Cut flowers. Unfortunately we can’t use them within the garden walls since the mixed varieties would not have been introduced before 1901.

Pic4 Tulip ‘Darwin Hybrid Mix’
Pic4 Tulip ‘Darwin Hybrid Mix’

The Fritillaries gave a good show this spring and added much needed colour to the flower garden at the moment. The most common species would be Fritillaria imperialis or commonly known as Crown Imperial. The huge flower heads are visible from far away but are very heavy and the up to one meter tall stalk needs to be staked in our climate. Slugs also love them so a bit of work has to go into them to ensure to have a successful display. Give the plants a good feed before they die off so the bulb stores enough energy for the next season. We normally dig up the bulbs after the stem and leaves died off to prevent them rotting in the ground.

Pic5 Fritillaria imperialis ‘Aurora’
Pic5 Fritillaria imperialis ‘Aurora’

A more unusual species would be Fritillaria persica, the Persian lily. This very attractive bulbous plant would flower at the same time as the Crown Imperial and has plum-purple to grey-green bell shaped flowers. It has to be one of my top three spring plants at the moment. The growing requirements would be the same and worth a try. They work well in mixed taller plantings of tulips or daffodil’s or just on its own in mass plantings.

Pic6 Fritillaria persica
Pic6 Fritillaria persica

Our newly planted lettuces won’t like the recent cold and wet spell. One of the earliest and hardier varieties to sow is Lettuce ‘Red Winter’. We might have to re-sow few varieties to make sure we have enough plants for all plots.

Pic7 First Lettuce planting with an interplanting off spring onions
Pic7 First Lettuce planting with an interplanting off spring onions

The coming week will be used to plant up our second potato plot with ‘British Queens’. The ridges are already marked out and topped with a layer of well-rotted manure.
The climbing supports for our peas are also up and the next dry day will be used to plant out the seedlings which were propagated beforehand in our glasshouse. All fruit trees got a sprinkle of Potash around the base of the plants.
The strawberry plants which we planted in terracotta pots inside the vinery are starting to develop nice sets of leaves. It will be interesting to see the differences to the plants which were planted outside about two weeks ago.

Forced Strawberry plant
Forced Strawberry plant

Last but not least we hosted another successful Easter Egg Hunt within the garden walls on Easter Sunday. We were very lucky with the weather once again (against all the odds!) and had over 300 girls and boys trying to solve clues from ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Everybody was greeted by the ‘real’ Alice in the Head Gardeners House and the rather scary looking ‘Queen of Heart’ gave a lasting impression in the decorated vinery. Parents were busy taking pictures in special designed photo locations. My youngest daughter had great fun posing in different shapes and sizes.

Pic 9 The beginning of Alice’s Easter Egg Hunt
Pic 9 The beginning of Alice’s Easter Egg Hunt
Pic 10 The ‘Queen of heart’ in our Vinery
Pic 10 The ‘Queen of heart’ in our Vinery

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