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

Garden Diary February 2017

A warm welcome back to all readers of this monthly garden blog of the Walled Garden of Kylemore Abbey.

Time seems to run at an amazing speed at the moment and the weeks just  fly by. This is the time for all Head Gardeners to plan, to research, to organise, to order and to make decisions which will influence the year ahead. Its my busiest time of the year and its vital to get it right to insure a smooth running of the coming season.

It must be one of the mildest and driest winters here at the west coast of Ireland, in the heart of Connemara. The mild conditions led to an early spring display and Crocuses and Daffodils  started to flower ahead of schedule.

Pic1 Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’) in our Fernery, planted the previous autumn


Pic2 Crocuses started to flower in our Woodland and the flower garden


Pic3 Early Narcissus ‘Rip van Winkle’, an old Irish heritage Variety, planted in a Victorian urn


This fact means for us that the summer bedding should be ready for planting just a bit earlier this year to ensure a constant show of flowers. We are in the process of sorting the newly purchased seeds at the moment. Every detail like delivery dates, introduction year, seed nursery and sowing instructions will be catalogued.

Pic4 Sorting and cataloguing new seeds


I also ordered few shrubs, ferns and trees to fill gaps and add to the existing plant stock. We decided to get two new tree fern which will be planted as dots in our formal lawns, like in Victorian times. Sadly all tree ferns were lost during the harsh winter of 2010. I was hoping that they might come back but I think that 6 years are a long enough waiting period! The new tree ferns will stay in pots and will be moved into the vinery to overwinter.

Pic5 New tree ferns waiting to be planted outside


We used the winter month to tidy and paint, repair and sort out all corners of the garden, and endless job. We also made new plant supports from iron rods for our herbaceous border. These are nice and strong supports and should last several years. The rusty look works well with the fresh green of the perennials I think.

Pic6 New herbaceous supports


New growth is peeping out everywhere and the first Rhubarb stalks with a very intense red give a nice splash of colour to the Vegetable Garden.

The figs which grew already last year are very much visible on the leafless branches and look a bit odd in the middle of winter. The sheltered position on the south facing lower wall in the garden gives them a great advantage.

Pic7 New Rhubarb stalks

Pic8 Figs

We used up a good few of our endless supply of Jerusalem Artichokes. We only dig them on demand and will probably use them also raw in salads in our restaurant. They give a lovely crunchy texture to salads but need a bit of seasoning to it.

Pic9 Jerusalem Artichokes


Last year I planted a peach tree in our Vinery along the south facing wall. It just started to flower and it will be interesting to see if we get any fruits this summer.

Pic10 Peach ‘Amsden’ in our Vinery


Our garden cat ‘Cotton Jenny’ loves attention so much that she found her favourite spot just right on top of our guest book, also in the Vinery. Several remedies to prevent this happening did not work, so we have to find another solution!

Pic11 ‘Cotton Jenny’ at her prime spot


The grounds of Kylemore Abbey give great sceneries, especially during the winter month with the low sun. It can be quite spectacular driving to work with this view!

Pic12 Morning sun and low clouds in Kylemore Abbey


The old Camellia below the Abbey walls is in full bloom already. The contrast between the grey stone and the intense pink is always eye-catching.

Pic13 Flowering Camellias and Ribes below the Abbey


This is all for this month, a great garden season with all sorts of challenges and delights in front of us. Enjoy your new gardening year!

Below the usual monthly garden tips.


Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke


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


To plant:

~ 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


To harvest:

~ 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

~ Powerwash all hard surfaces and treat for moss early March