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Garden Diary for May 2014

Welcome back to our May edition of the garden blog of the walled garden of Kylemore Abbey.
The last of our tulips, especially the lovely red variety ’Cardinal Red’, were more or less “beheaded” during the last stormy weekend. In perfect conditions they could have lasted another two weeks at least. Thankfully I took pictures before the blossom show was finished.

Pic1 Spring display with Tulip ‘Cardinal Red’
Pic1 Spring display with Tulip ‘Cardinal Red’
Pic2 Tulip wallichiana
Pic2 Tulip wallichiana

So we decided to start to plant out our summer bedding which is well advanced this year. Seed germination was particularly good this spring. The wet and cold conditions we are experiencing at the moment are a bit of a hinderance. We try to plant when it is dry enough which means we have to juggle around with our routine work a bit.

Pic3 Bed ready for planting
Pic3 Bed ready for planting

The blown off blossom of the crab apple trees looks like snow from last winter on the meadow. I hope the bees managed to get around on time… A nice crop of apples, plums and pears would be nice this year. Last year was not very successful, only our soft fruits did well. It must be a good year for cherries, though. We never saw such an abundance of Cherry blossom, especially on the Morello cherries (sour variety). It also would be the first season ever to actually get a plentiful crop of cherries on the espaliers. I nearly gave up on them, always thinking the rather shady and damp spot is not suitable for them. It will be interesting to see the outcome; they may still have to be transplanted.

Pic4 Blossom of our Crab apples
Pic4 Blossom of our Crab apples
Pic5 Still very green cherries
Pic5 Still very green cherries

I always liked the look of the newly emerging leave buds of shrubs, perennials or ferns. It feels like that the last dreadful winter never happened (I mean the horrible weather conditions of course!). The different shapes and fresh colours are so unique to every plant, nothing looks the same.

Pic6 New leaves of Hosta sieboldiana
Pic6 New leaves of Hosta sieboldiana
Pic7 Young leaves of Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)
Pic7 Young leaves of Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)
Pic8 A fern is enrolling its new leaves
Pic8 A fern is enrolling its new leaves

The Vegetable garden is nearly planted up, few more Cabbages, Parsley and later on the Carrots and Parsnips need to be planted.
The Marrows, Courgettes and Pumpkins have time until June, the later the better to ensure dry and warm weather (wishful thinking!).
The leafy shoots of the potatoes are getting mounded around at the moment. This process will be repeated every couple of weeks. This process is also called ‘Earthing up’ and will increase the length of the underground stems which will eventually bear the potatoes.

Pic9 Ulick is ‘earthing up’
Pic9 Ulick is ‘earthing up’

Our Herbaceous Border is starting to develop its summer layout. Plants are filling out the empty spaces and the first ones are in bloom; mainly pink to blue flowering herbaceous like Iris, Geranium and Persicaria.

Pic10 Herbaceous Border beginning May
Pic10 Herbaceous Border beginning May

The Fernery is always a kind of secret place within the walled garden . Nestled along the stream between the formal flower garden and the 2 acre vegetable garden it is a place to rest, reflect and even hide, like in Victorian times when ‘Hide & Seek’ was one of the favourite pastime activities among the adults! A lovely late spring flowering bulb is Leucojum aestivum, the Summer Snowflake. It is very easy to grow, in all kind of conditions.

Pic11 Summer Snowflake
Pic11 Summer Snowflake
Pic12 A place to rest – the Fernery
Pic12 A place to rest – the Fernery

Once again we started to sell freshly picked herbs for herbal teas in our Tea house; situated just outside the Walled garden and facing the impressive Diamond hill.

Pic 13 Fresh Mint for sale
Pic 13 Fresh Mint for sale

I hope the weather improves soon so we can enjoy the beauty of the garden world.

Your Head Gardener
Anja Gohlke

Things you can do in your garden in May:

To Sow / Propagate:
~ Harden off later vegetable seedlings like pumkins, marrows and beetroot
~ Sow French and Runner beans
~ Sow Carrots and Parsnips
~ Take softwood and non-flowering cuttings of Fuchsia and Pelargonium
~ Continue sowing lettuce for succession planting (every 10 days)
~ Take softwood cuttings of shrubs

To plant:
~ Start to plant out summer bedding in final position and protect against slugs
~ Transfer leeks outside into final position
~ Plant Tagetes and Calendula as companion plants between your crops to attract beneficial insects

To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Trim formal hedges of Buxus, Fuchsia or Escallonia and feed them
~ Dead head flowers of spring bulbs like Tulips for strong flower displays next year
~ Watering of new crops and bedding is essential in dry periods
~ Put up supports on taller perennials, broad beans and sweet peas
~ Prune spring flowering shrubs like Weigelia or Forsythia after finishing flowering
~ Keep records of successful/unsuccessful spring planting areas for next years spring season
~ Aerate and sand lawns if not done earlier