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

Garden Diary for February 2016

Welcome back to our new 2016 series of the Garden Blog of the Victorian Walled Garden in Kylemore Abbey & Garden.

I was very excited when driving to Kylemore this morning. The sun was out and put such a lovely gleam over the Connemara landscape and the mountains surrounding Kylemore that I had to stop, jump out the car and take my first picture of the season.

 Pic1 Early morning sun over Maladrolaun Lake on the Kylemore Estate.

Pic1 Early morning sun over Maladrolaun Lake on the Kylemore Estate.

It was also the first time this winter that the ground was frozen. This late frost will help to break the soil and to reduce pest and diseases hopefully. I always liked to take pictures in very cold weather since the frost creates such interesting patterns on plants and rocks.

Pic2 Frost in the Rockery
Pic2 Frost in the Rockery
Pic3 Sun inside the Walled Garden
Pic3 Sun inside the Walled Garden

This was nearly impossible in the last 6 weeks; or I should rather say the past three month! A daily rain water check showed a total of 350 ml for the month of January; it  rained 31 days non-stop. The ground was so wet and water logged that unfortunately the roots of a few of our old original trees like the Monterey Cypress could not hold on anymore.

As soon as the soggy soil  allows  us we are out to tackle few early garden jobs like taking out old crops from the previous season, to top dress all soft fruits with our own rotted manure or to mow the lawns. The growth never stopped over the last few months and the grass needed an early cut on a higher setting.

Pic4 Black Currants with a layer of rotted manure
Pic4 Black Currants with a layer of rotted manure

A Few vegetable plots are still covered in black plastic to prevent washing out important nutrients. They will be uncovered as needed. A layer of Farm Yard Manure which was put onto it before it was covered will break down nicely without any disturbance.

Pic5 Covered Vegetable plots
Pic5 Covered Vegetable plots

Wet days are used to sow the first Vegetable and flower seeds like Spring Onions, Cabbages and Tagetes. We also started to chit the first early potatoes, which means putting them into light with the eyes up so they can start to sprout. If everything goes well they should be planted out around Saint Patrick’s day. The weather will hopefully allow us to build up the ridges by then.

Pic6 Chitting first early potato ‘Epicure’
Pic6 Chitting first early potato ‘Epicure’

Our Rhubarb is well advanced and I hope that last night’s frost won’t do it any harm. Early growth can have it’s disadvantages and could affect plants for the rest of the year.

 Pic7 Early Rubarb beside traditional forcing clay pot

Pic7 Early Rubarb beside traditional forcing clay pot

Our first spring flowers like snow drops and Crocus are out but also struggle in the very unsettled weather. The blossom of the Crocuses are especially affected by wind and rain and are not lasting as long as usual.

Pic8 Snopdrops –Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Plena’
Pic8 Snopdrops –Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Plena’
Pic9 Crocus ‘King of Striped’
Pic9 Crocus ‘King of Striped’

Recently we found a tiny guest in our glasshouse in our newly installed Belfast sink; the nosy little mouse was trapped in it and could not get out by itself. Even so we would not like to see mice near our glasshouse since they can do a lot of damage to seeds and plants, this one was very cute and we rescued it and moved it away as far as possible so the traps won’t get it!

Pic10 A guest at play
Pic10 A guest at play

I hope the spring season will be a pleasant one for everybody, with plenty of work to do!

Please find below my usual garden tips for February.

 

Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

 

Things you can do in your garden in February

 

To Sow / Propagate:

~ Finishing crafting apple trees at the end of the month

~ Start to sow summer bedding and vegetables seeds in modules indoor

~ Chit first early potatoes like ‘Epicure’, ‘Duke of York’ or ‘Sharps Express’

 

To plant:

~ Perfect time to plant bare-rooted fruit trees or hedges

~ Continue to lift, divide and replant herbaceous plants

~ Transfer and plant Snowdrops after flowering

~ Order and plant bare-rooted roses

 

To harvest:

~ Last of Leeks, Spinach, Parsnips, Curley Kale, Jerusalem Artichokes (lift roots)
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