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

Garden Diary for October 2017

This month diary I would like to start with a note about our garden fauna.

Walking through the garden does not always mean only looking at the plants but also looking out for our local wildlife.  I came across this lovely couple of Red Admiral butterflies a few days ago. Now, I am not an expert on butterflies and have to admit that I had to look up the name. They had a great feast on the pink flowering Sedum, there were many more on other plants, too.

Pic1 Butterflies ‘Red Admiral’ on Sedum spec. ‘Brilliant’


When I pruned  our Morello Cherry wall trees last month I had to climb up all the way to the top of the garden wall. The fauna up there seemed completely different to the one at ground level; even the woodlice living in the cracks of the lime stone wall looked unusual to me.

The most unusual creature I spotted was this Stick Caterpillar, hardly noticeable when crawling along the bamboo stick. It camouflaged itself so perfectly that I almost mistook it for a little stick, until it started to move!

Pic2 The ever hungry ‘Stick Caterpillar’


Sitting on a leaf of one of our Sweet Cherry trees was this beautiful example of a Dragonfly, a Common Hawker to my knowledge. They are quite impressive when you see and hear them buzzing around. The size was about the length of a hand.

Pic3 Dragonfly on Sweet Cherry tree


Going back to the pruning of the Morello Cherry or Sour Cherry it is important to know that they only fruit on last years growth. So when pruning don’t cut out this years growth in order to have fruits the following season. Cherry trees like all stone fruit trees such as Plums or Peach trees should be pruned during the summer months to avoid the Silverleaf disease. Pruning wall fruits needs a bit of practice and is quite labour intensive. All shoots should be tied to the frame work at the wall in order to keep or establish the desired shape. Bamboo sticks can be very handy to achieve this and it is a natural product which will just rot away after a couple of years.

We also started to trim our Escallonia hedge along the Herbaceous Border very hard. The hedge grew too wide within the last few years and it started to overgrow and squeeze the herbaceous plants in the back row. It looks drastic but the hedge will soon green up again.

Pic4 The Escallonia hedge after trimming


Now is a good time to take semi ripe cuttings of different types of shrubs. We took cuttings of Hydrangeas, Fuchsias, Pelargoniums, different herbs like Rosmary or Sage and Hebes, like the one below. The lower part of this Hebe x franziskiana was trimmed into shape and the cut offs used as cuttings at the same time. It is the cheapest way to produce new plants from your own source and very rewarding when succesful.


Pic5 Clipped Hebe


The picture below does not show our Halloween preparations but the cuttings we took recently. We  keep them under plastic bags to keep the air moist. We found this way the most successful in order for the cuttings to root.

Pic6 Wrapped cuttings


We also started to clear out the summer bedding and replant the formal beds with spring bedding plants like Wallflowers, Forget me nots or Bellis. All plants taken out are going straight onto our compost heaps where they will rot down within the next 9 months.

Pic7 Bed clearing and preparation for the coming spring


Autumn time does not mean that there are no flowers anymore. One of them which just opened up recently is the Amaryllis, a typical Christmas flower, mainly grown indoor. This particular one spend many years in our Subtropical Border without flowering but finally showed its lovely blossom for the first time last year. Sometimes it is worth while to wait just a bit longer!

Pic8 Amaryllis Flower


I will be back with more news from the Victorian Walled Garden in Kylemore Abbey in November. In the mean time good gardening to everybody!


Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke