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Garden Diary for February 2014

A very warm welcome to all readers of our monthly garden blog from the Victorian Walled Garden in Kylemore Abbey. Let’s hope we will have a good year ahead, with plenty of sunshine of course!

First things first – the weather! It is bad! Saying this we are still doing quite ok out here in the Wild West. Minor floods, washed away paths and unfortunately a few fallen trees. But it could be worse if you look at places like Cork with immense floods.

Such weather makes gardening a bit more challenging these days and at the moment there is no end to these weather conditions in sight.

A good few flower beds are under water and it will be a surprise to see how many spring bedding will flower. We kept few backup plants in cold frames as replacements.

Pic1 A fallen Giant – Elm tree
Pic1 A fallen Giant – Elm tree

The first Snowdrops are flowering in our fernery, which I am very glad to see. We lost many in the recent years, either they rotted in the wet ground or were eaten by little creatures. The varieties we grow are Galanthus nivalis, Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Plena’, Galanthus elwesii and  Galathus plicatus.

Pic2 Snowdrops (Galanthus) in our fernery
Pic2 Snowdrops (Galanthus) in our fernery

The snowdrops are accompanied by yellow flowering winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis), which were planted last autumn. Both are one of the first spring bulbs to flower and use the light and sunshine coming through the leafless tress. A dull looking woodland can be brightened up nicely with early flowering ground cover plants like these two. Later on they will be replaced by wood anemones and bluebells.

Pic3 Winter Aconite
Pic3 Winter Aconite

The first Crocus and  Helleborus are also flowering for the last couple of weeks. So there is a bit going on in the ‘Flowering World’ already.

Pic4 Crosus chrysanthus ‘Fuscotinctus’
Pic4 Crosus chrysanthus ‘Fuscotinctus’
Pic5 Helleborus angustifolius
Pic5 Helleborus angustifolius

Winter season in a garden means a lot of digging work. This year we tackled our rose bed. To aerate and de-compact the whole bed we dug it over with a fork and mixed in a fair amount of our own well-rotted Farm Yard Manure. This will give the roses the needed boost. I also ordered new roses to go into this bed; a few older ones need to be replaced. Heirloom varieties of Tea, Hybrid Perpetual, Moss and China roses should flower nicely later on in the season. Digging in our garden also means treasure hunting! It is very seldom that we don’t come across a few pieces from the past such as bottles, clay pipes, glass from the original glasshouses or even animal bones, which were used as a fertilizer during Victorian times.

Pic6 Newly prepared rose bed
Pic6 Newly prepared rose bed
Pic7 ‘Artefacts’ found during digging
Pic7 ‘Artefacts’ found during digging

Our spring cabbages are standing strong despite the severe weather conditions and the first rhubarb stalks are peeping through the layer of manure. One of the older Rhubarb plots will be dug up and replaced with new crowns divided from a different plot.

Pic8 Spring cabbages
Pic8 Spring cabbages
Pic9 The first Rhubarb
Pic9 The first Rhubarb

We received the first flower and vegetable seeds for our coming propagation  season  and it is a very time consuming job to sort and file them in our record cards and put them alphabetically  into boxes until sowing time. We have sown the first batch of Lettuce ‘Winter Density’and ‘Paris Island Cos’ and Spring onion ‘White Lisbon’ into modules in our propagation glasshouse. Next week we will start to propagate our Heritage varieties of Sweetpeas.

The last image is showing the bridge over to the Herbaceous Border and the Vegetable Garden on a nice sunny day; something very rare during these days!

Pic10 A bit of sunshine
Pic10 A bit of sunshine

Below are few tips for gardening in February as usual.

 

Slan and happy digging from

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in February

To Sow / Propagate:

~ Start to sow summer bedding and vegetables seeds indoor

~ Start Dahlia tubers in pots

~ Move seed potatoes into light for chitting

 To plant:

~ Continue to lift, divide and replant herbaceous plants

~ Transfer and plant Snowdrops after flowering

~ Continue to plant trees, shrubs and roses

 To harvest:

~ Last of Parsnips, Leeks, Swedes and Beetroots

To maintain & prune & feed:

~ Prune woody plants like Buddleja hard back

~ Fertilize roses with well-rotted Farm Yard Manure

~ Maintain, sharpen and repair tools etc., clean pots and trays

~ Prepare ridges in vegetable garden for first crops

~ Lawns could get first cut if ground is suitable and not too wet