The summer is going by at an immense speed it seems, it is nearly mid-August, and the school holidays are coming to its end. The last few weeks were so busy in the gardens, especially since we had to cope first with an intense heatwave and after this with heavy showers. This morning felt like the Monsoon season started, within a half hour we had nearly 20 mm of rain. The sun is out again, so what shall I say. Be prepared for everything!
Pic1 Yes, it was hot!! 32 degrees in the shade, around 45 degrees in the glasshouses….
Keeping especially annual plants at its best under these stress situations is a challenge for every gardener. Our Victorian Formal Flower Garden is mainly planted with annual bedding plants which change twice a year. Vibrant colours and full displays were the theme back then in Victorian times 150 years ago. Our old heritage varieties are special but are not always as resistant as newer breeds. We always need back up plants and plans, I call it our plan B’s or C’s…. The display in July was fantastic this year, the colours very deep and in contrast with each other.
Pic2 Lobelia ‘Chrystal Palace’, Calendula ‘Orange King’ and Antirrhinum ‘Defiance’ in our ‘Snake beds’
Pic3 Formal circular beds on the South Slope
The Victorians liked to use different design elements in their gardens. Many Italian and French styles were incorporated, like ‘Parterres’. Our Parterre sits on top of the garden and was once surrounded by 21 glasshouses on three sides. The trapped heat and south facing position was cleverly designed and aided to grow subtropical and heat loving plants. The view from the Parterre over to the Diamond Hill and surrounding mountains must have been and still is breath-taking, especially on sunny days when the Diamond Hill glimmers like its name suggests. Quite often the top of the Mountains are hidden under low cloud formations.
Pic4 The Parterre facing the Diamond Hill in the background
Carpet bedding was another fashion statement in Victorian Gardens, especially in the earlier years. The beds were painstakingly and very precisely planted in most intricate patterns with endless amounts of suitable low growing bedding plants like Echeverias,Sedums, Alternantheras or Senecios.It took a lot of pre-planning and laying out to achieve the desired effects. These beds were normally replanted on an annual base in different designs.
We only have two smaller carpet style beds in front of the Vineries. Ours have a mixture of annual and perennial plants.
Pic5 Our Carpet Bed in front of the restored Vinery
I just finished the pruning of our indoor espalier peach tree which is trained against the backwall of the Vinery. The growth is very vigorous but unfortunately the fruit production not yet. The lack of pollinating insects in the glasshouse leads to an annual hand pollination from flower to flower.
The view from the leader during the pruning gives another perspective inside the Vinery. To the left, the Grapes are trained along wiresin front of the curvilinear windows. The climbing Pelargonium on the right side along the wall is slowly finishing its intense flowering display.
Pic6 Inside the Vinery from a different viewing point
Pic7 The passionflower in full bloom inside the Vinery; geometry and patterns at its best!
When walking over one of the four bridges within the garden, you will be greeted by this lovely pink flowering rose. It seems to be in many cottage gardens around here in Connemara and its endless supply of blossoms from May until nearly October makes it worthwhile to let ramble over trellises, walls, or the side of bridges. The contrast to the paintwork of the bridge is quite intense but very Victorian!
Pic8 Lovely contrast between the pink rose and the ‘Victorian Green’ of the bridge
The four bridges are crossing over the stream which is running right through the garden and dividing the flower garden from the vegetable garden. This stream and the lake on top of the mountain behind the garden, which is supplying the water to the stream were and still are essential to our garden operation. Even during the hottest and driest weeks we were able to irrigate the garden. 150 years ago, the stream was used to create hydroelectric power for the Head Gardeners House, Bothy and Tool sheds. It is our vision to re-install a similar setup in the near future.
The Vegetable Garden is finally in full production mode, and we were holding our first Vegetable Sale last week, about one month later than last year. Heritage varieties of Courgettes, Lettuces, Peas, Potatoes, Leaf beets, Spinach, Spring onions, Herbs and few other bits and pieces were part of our mixed Vegetable bags we sell to our staff working on the Kylemore estate. The raised money will go to the Galway Hospice once again.
Pic9 The Courgettes seem to be in abundance this season; the heat helped along the way.
Pic10 Pea ‘Lincoln’ ready for harvesting
Pic11 Long lines of Leaf beets, Spinaches and Lettuces are growing in plots
Pic12 The lovely crisp Lettuce variety ‘Webbs Wonderful’, dating back to 1890 in England
Pic13 The flowers of the Crown pea; first time sown this year
The Herbaceous Border is also on its peak at the moment. Lovely shades of pinks, purples, yellows and whites are dominating the long border. Weekly dead heading is essential to prolong the flower displays. Once we worked through the double border we can start right at the beginning again!
Pic14 White flowering Chrysanthemums break strong colours along the border
Pic15 The Phlox did really well this year
Pic16 Echinops give lovely texture
Pic17 Inula hookeri gives nectarto hover flies
Gloria, our Kune kune pig lady had to undergo a small procedure on her front hoof and has to stay inside the pig bothy for a few days. The anastatic knocked her out for a couple of hours; she snored away, probably dreaming about her next ration of barley!
Pic18 Gloria in dreamland
These are all the news for this time, more to come in September! Until then, good gardening to everyone!
Your Head Gardener