Welcome back to our spring edition of the monthly garden blog of Kylemore Abbey & Garden.
The recent warm and dry winter gave way to a rather wet and very unsettled spring. Very cold and strong easterly winds made outside work challenging once again.
It nearly feels like we are getting punished for the ideal winter conditions we experienced just over a month ago.
The weather did not put a damper on our annual Tree planting week which is part of National Tree Week. As in recent years we invited all local schools and our local creche to take part in planting a couple of mainly native broad leaf trees.
On a rainy Monday morning the local creche presented a lovely bunch of four year old preschoolers, eager to dig and plant and get their tiny hands dirty. Everybody got a turn on the spade, which was bigger then the children.
Happy faces at the end and a well deserved treat in our restaurant rounded off this joyful morning.
Pic1 Children of our local creche are proudly presenting their planted Sycamore tree
Pic2 Pupils of the second class of Letterfrack National school busy planting trees
We started this tree planting week in 2012 and have planted nearly 50 trees so far. They are spread throughout the entire estate in Kylemore. This year we concentrated on replanting trees in the woodland along the stream within the Walled Garden.
Otherwise in thew Garden we are very busy with the seed propagation for our summer display in the formal flower garden and vegetable garden. Every gardener has a different approach and their own little tweaks on how to sow seeds. We use seed dials for the smaller seeds like the seeds of Lavatera (in the picture below). We use special seed compost and add vermiculite which helps to establish the roots of the seedlings.
Pic3 Seeds of Lavatera ‘Mont’Blanc’ ready for sowing
Once the seeds have germinated and the seedlings are big enough we pot them on into trays with potting compost, making sure the compost is not compacted for easier rooting. It is important to hold the seedlings on the leaves and not on the stems so the plants do not get damaged. It is also important to prepare a deep hole in the tray to ensure the roots will fit in without being cramped. Don’t over-water the young plants, it is better to mist them several times a day. Once they are hardy enough they could be moved outside under cold frames to be hardened off.
Pic4 Seedlings of Radish ‘Scarlet Globe’ ready for potting on
Pic5 Potting on Radish seedlings into trays
We used the few dry spells to rotovate plots and plant Onions, Garlic, Shallots and Spring Onion. They did very well last year and we hope for the best again for this season.
Pic6 Organic sets of Garlic, Onion and Shallots
The first flush of spring colour is nearly over. Early daffodils, crocuses and snow drops are nearly finished and other spring bulbs and plants are starting to show their flowering habit. A nice flowering bulb which is not seen very often is Puschkinia, about 15 cm tall with delicate white and light blue blossom. It grows well in sun or shade in beds or on banks.
Pic7 Puschkinia libanotica
Another unusual spring bulb would be Narcissus canaliculatis, a small tazetta type Daffodil with a lovely cluster of small white and yellow flower heads. It works well in combinations with Snake heads Fritillaria.
Pic8 Narcissus canaliculatis
The milder conditions earlier on brought out the first blossom of our espalier plum trees planted along the brick wall. Lets hope that a late frost won’t damage them. It would be nice to harvest a few plums this year. We are also planting more fruit trees like Apples, Pears and Plums as replacements for old or decayed trees at the moment.
Pic9 The blossom of a plum tree
One of my favourite spring flowers is the Persian Fritillaria. I love the shades and textures of the flower heads. The only downfall around here is that the slugs seem to love them and that they need staking since the plant could be nearly two feet tall.Pic10 Fritillaria persica
The tasty grass in Kylemore and the Walled Garden is well known to our woolly friends and it is hard to keep them outside the Kylemore premises sometimes. A small ‘sheep-hunt’ within the garden ended up like this last week. The question here is, who has the nicer view?
Pic11 ‘A day out’
Your Head Gardener
Things you can do in your garden in March/beginning April
To Sow / Propagate:
~ First sowing of green manure
~ Sow first early potatoes as soon as soil is warming up
~ Continue sowing summer bedding plants and prick out when big enough
~ Plant out seedlings of Broad beans and stake well
~ Plant spring onion, onions, shallots, garlic
~ Divide and transplant perennials in borders
~ Divide & replant chives (also great in borders and good for black flies on roses)
To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Service all garden machinery before first use
~ Sharpen edging shears regularly
~ Feed all fruit trees and bushes with potash
~ Feed herbaceous borders with soil improver like chicken pellets and own rotted compost
~ Feed Spring Cabbages with Seaweed powder