We are CLOSED

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

Garden Diary for December 2014 & January 2015

A Welcome back to the final garden diary for this year.
I have to admit that it is sometimes a challenge in itself to find quieter moment to write these diaries. I also have to look back at the last year’s blogs so I don’t repeat myself too often. And then there is the challenge with the right grammar and wording.  Whoever follows these diaries will probably have noticed that I sometimes use uncommon or let’s say strange word combinations (Not out of intention of course!). I put it down to my ’East-German’ roots. English was only secondary after Russian, which does not mean that I am able to speak or write it very well either. Eithne & Dolores, please keep up your correction inputs!
Ok, that’s enough about the formal part of this blog; so what has happened in Kylemore Gardens lately?
Well, finally we managed to put all spring bulbs and bedding down, the mild and mainly dry weather helped a great deal. Unfortunately a few little creatures like mice thought we just buried their share for fun and to our dismay a couple of bulbs were dug up during the night.

Pic1 The Flower garden in winter mood under the evening sun
Pic1 The Flower garden in winter mood under the evening sun

All tender plants like the very spiky Agaves are moved into their winter home in the vinery and more hardy palms like Trachycarpus got a fleece wrapping and a top dressing with our own rotted compost around the base of the plant.

Pic2 Agave in winter sun before moving indoor
Pic2 Agave in winter sun before moving indoor

We have to check the surrounding garden walks regularly for safety, especially as the old trees in the woodland are prone to storm damage. I noticed the abundance of fruits on the Beech and the Alder trees this year. The paths were covered with the triangle shaped and edible Beech nuts. We used to eat them as kids each autumn, sometimes too many which resulted in bad belly pain… . They are also great for arts and craft work for children, especially the shell of the Beech nuts. They are ideal to use as hats for self made figurines.

Pic3 Beech nuts
Pic3 Beech nuts

The dark brown cones of the Alder trees are full of seeds and the next strong wind will spread them into the surrounding landscape. The bark of the Alder is often covered with lichen which creates a very distinctive pattern of white and grey markings. There are also foliose and fruticose types of lichens found on a good few Alders around here. They can be very decorative when used in Christmas wreaths for example.

Pic4 Brown cones of the Alder tree
Pic4 Brown cones of the Alder tree
Pic5 Foliose & fruticose Lichens on same Alder brunch
Pic5 Foliose & fruticose Lichens on same Alder brunch

The southern part of the walled garden is the disadvantaged side during the winter month when the sun is standing low. The tall trees surrounding the walls let only a bit of sun through to the lower part of the garden whereas the sloped and sun facin North Slope will really warm up during the later morning hours. This fact was very important for the original positioning of the extensive glasshouse complex and meant that the natural source of heat could be used very efficiently.

Pic6 Sun & shade
Pic6 Sun & shade

Below are few more images from the outside of the garden wall; areas which are also quite interesting for visitors to look at and away from the main focal points within the garden walls.

Pic7 The willow nursery outside the south wall
Pic7 The willow nursery outside the south wall
Pic8 One of four doors
Pic8 One of four doors
Pic9 Former herds man bothy
Pic9 Former herds man bothy
Pic10 Woodland surrounding the garden
Pic10 Woodland surrounding the garden

I will be back with news from the Victorian Walled Garden in Kylemore in February 2015.
Please find my usual garden advice for December and January just below.

There is only one more thing for me to mention: ‘Merry Christmas’ to all my followers and a special ‘Schoene Weihnachten’ to the German readers.

Your Head Gardener
Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in December and January

To Sow / Propagate:
~ Start to prepare the seed order for the coming propagation season
~ Sow Sweet peas in deep pots in January
~ Start to sow first vegetable seeds like lettuce for indoor sowing

To plant:
~Plant bare-rooted trees, trim tips of roots before planting, water afterwards
but avoid planting during heavy frost
~ Continue to plant fruit trees and shrubs
~ Divide herbaceous plants, pot on or replant immediately afterwards in newly prepared spots; label or mark in planting scheme to avoid later confusion

To harvest:
~ Brassicas like Curley Kale or Cabbage ‘Red Drumhead’
~ Lift celeriac before strong frosts and store in moist sand for later use;
Same could be done with carrots and parsnips
~ Dig up Jerusalem artichokes and store in dry and cool place

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Prune roses, leave five ca.one feed long & strong shoots; prune tall roses by half (harder pruning follows in spring)
~ Start winter pruning of Apple & Pear trees, get advice if you are not sure
~ Prune deciduous trees and shrubs for a balanced shape
~ Cut back ornamental Vines and other strong growing climbers
~ Clean and tidy glasshouses, propagation trays, pots, sheds, etc.
~ Wrap outside water taps, move in hoses and sprinklers to prevent frost damage, turn off water if pipes are not frost protected
~ Check on stored Potatoes, bulbs and fruits for diseases and dispose affected ones
~ Check Apple and Pear trees for sign of canker
~ Prune Grape vines, leave about two to three buds of laterals (side shoots of this year’s growths)
~ General tidying of all garden corners which were neglected throughout the year!

And last but not least: read few garden books or magazines; something which always comes to short (I also have it on my wish list!)