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

Garden Diary for April 2015

Easter came and went like an early summer’s breeze and close to three hundred little girls and boys were chasing after clues throughout the walled garden and beyond. At the end of the hunt they received a well deserved chocolate bunny. It was great to see the older siblings helping the younger ones with more tricky questions but they all made it in the end. I had to run after my children to keep up with their pace!

Pic1 Solving one of the clues – How many Easter eggs are hanging on the apple tree?
Pic1 Solving one of the clues – How many Easter eggs are hanging on the apple tree?
Pic2 Two little bunnies enjoy the sun in the Walled Garden
Pic2 Two little bunnies enjoy the sun in the Walled Garden
Pic3 Eithne who organised the egg hunt is petting the tired Easter bunny after a long day
Pic3 Eithne who organised the egg hunt is petting the tired Easter bunny after a long day

The weather was all what you could ask for; even so Easter was two weeks earlier then last year. The intense sunshine brought out the first of the many different types of tulips and Co.

Pic4 Tulip sylvestris
Pic4 Tulip sylvestris
Pic5 Anemone de Caen
Pic5 Anemone de Caen
Pic6 Fritillaria max.’Lutea’
Pic6 Fritillaria max.’Lutea’

The vegetable garden is getting very busy. Nearly every day crops are getting planted. The peas and mangetouts are going in today for example. Last week most of the kales and cabbages were planted and the last of the potatoes will go into the ridges next week probably. A careful record keeping of the varieties, planting times and amounts is important to keep track and also helps with next years plans.

Pic7 Planting out the Cabbages and Kales
Pic7 Planting out the Cabbages and Kales

I am always amazed how long crops can stay in the ground, our Beetroot still looks good and even tastes quite good. Just last week we took out last years leeks.

Pic8 Last years Beetroot still standing strong
Pic8 Last years Beetroot still standing strong

It seems to be a bumper year for Rhubarb. I saw it seldom so strong and healthy growing and it just tastes fantastic. The Benedictine Nuns like to make lovely desserts using the Rhubarb. People often forget that Rhubarb has only a short harvesting period, mainly from April till June. So now or never! And when harvested early the stalks don’t need to be peeled either, since they are not stringy yet.

Pic9 Rhubarb on its high
Pic9 Rhubarb on its high

The cuttings of the Blackcurrants I took last year are setting they first flowers already. It is wise to take them off until the plants establish a bit more and the root system is fully developed. Otherwise too much energy is used for the fruit production, which has still time until last year.

Pic10 Blackcurrant cuttings
Pic10 Blackcurrant cuttings

There is also a lot going on in our Herbaceous Border; dividing and replanting, top dressing using our own well rotted compost and a feed of Chicken manure. Also the Herbaceous Border leaflet needs updating after all the changes which takes a good bit of time. A  few taller growing plants need to be staked before the main growths starts; we will use our own willows and also metal supports for this.

Pic11 Herbaceous Border beginning April.
Pic11 Herbaceous Border beginning April.
Pic12 Fritillaria persica is always giving a great show
Pic12 Fritillaria persica is always giving a great show

The ferns are enrolling their first fronds and for me it is one of the highlights each spring to see them doing it in such an elegant way.

Pic13 Fernery
Pic13 Fernery

The weather seems to be having it’s ups and downs at the moment; hot summer sun and snow on the mountain within three days! The gardener’s joy!

Your Head Gardener
Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in April

To Sow / Propagate:
~ Continue sowing potatoes
~ Sow more Vegetables like carrots and parsnips later in month
~ Sow tomatoes & cucumbers indoors
~ Start to harden off summer bedding plants like Calendula or Lobelia

To plant:
~ Plant out Kale, Cabbage, Lettuce, Peas & Mangetouts, Spinach
~ New perennials or ornamental grasses for borders
To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Feed and treat box hedges for blight (Try seaweed!)
~ Clean and prepare Hanging Baskets for May planting
~ Continue lawn care like aerating and sanding, feeding and weeding
~ Start to trim formal hedges
~ Prune early spring flowering shrubs after finishing flowering