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Saturday, 06 November 2021

Garden Blog Autumn 2021

Garden Aut 7

Autumn is in full swing and the leaves here in Kylemore are finally starting to fall. The delayed four weeks from the past spring continued right through to autumn. Normally most leaves would be down by now. 

September was very pleasant and most of the summer bedding and flowering perennials lasted well until mid-October. The butterflies and bees made the most of the late blossoms and harvested the last of the nectar. Our Sedum spectabile ‘Brilliant’ is particularly good this year and the flowers are long lasting.

Pic1 Sedum spectabile ‘Brilliant’ and Red Admiral butterflies

These perennials are growing mainly along our red brick wall in long Ribbon beds, together with other perennials like Anaphalis triplinervis, Pearl Everlasting, to create the Victorian look from past times. 

Heritage varieties of pears are planted closely to the walls and are trained against it. They need to be pruned mainly in the wintertime but also get a light summer pruning. The crop on these wall fruits was quite good this season, many pears need to ripen in storage after harvesting.

Pic2 Our famous Ribbon beds

Pic3 Pears on wall fruits 

Another fruit which is nearly ready for harvesting would be the Medlar, Mespilus germanica. The fruits look quite unusual and should only be harvested when nearly rotted. Most people would make jelly out of the fruits. 

The Medlar can be easily trained against a wall or also planted as a specimen tree in a lawn. It bears attractive white flowers in the springtime and the leaves turn yellow to orange in autumn.

Pic4 The fruits of the Medlar

Just in time for Halloween we were able to harvest few pumpkins this year. Our heritage varieties of pumpkins only develop properly if we have a dry and warm summer, something we don’t experience every year unfortunately. 

One of them would be a very old Italian variety called ‘Priests Hat’. The shape of the pumpkin indicates the name; its original Italian name would be 'Berret of Piacenza' and it counts as an endangered pumpkin variety. We will harvest our own seeds to ensure next year’s propagation.

Pic5 The ‘Priests Hat’ pumpkin

October and November would be our spring planting months. Before we can plant out our own propagated spring bedding plants, we have to clear the beds from the summer bedding.

This process is very time consuming since all formal beds need to be fully cleared, weeded, and then reshaped in Victorian style before the spring plants and bulbs can go in.

The shapes of the formal bedding scheme are highlighted much more once they are cleared out and look even attractive when empty. Dry spells are used for planting at the moment. Once the bedding is planted, the spring bulbs will follow in between the gaps.

Pic6 Our snake beds replanted with spring bedding like Bellis and Wallflowers

Pic7 The D-beds cleared out, weeded and re-shaped; the Cannas in the center of the beds will stay in over winter.

Wet days are used for sorting our own harvested seeds. The seed heads need to be fully ripe and dry before they can be bagged and put into storage. These seeds can be tiny. I just took Petunia seeds out of the husks, sieved them, and put into bags. These seeds are rather counted in gram or milligram, and not as single seeds.  One gram contains roughly 9000 seeds.

I bagged around 4.5gram of our heritage variety Petunia integrefolia, which translates into a stunning seed amount of over 40 000 seeds.

Pic8 Sorting Petunia seeds 

Pic9 This small bag contains roughly 40 000 Petunia seeds!

 Pic10 More seeds for sorting…maybe you can spot Jenny our garden cat who is guarding them!

The last of our spring bulbs just arrived from Berlin in Germany, my hometown or better said home city. These heritage Tulip and Daffodils bulbs are very precious and rare and not cheap. We are trying to grow them on to multiply them. 

Brexit means that I am not able to purchase bulbs or seeds from England at the moment. It took quite a while to research new seed companies, especially because we are growing up to 95% old heritage varieties which were introduced before 1901.

So, growing and multiplying our own bulbs to increase our stock is one of the challenges we have to face.

Pic11 Spring bulb delivery directly from Holland

Pic12 Our spring bulb storage in the Bothy

Halloween is just over, and we were able to open our buildings in the garden to the visitors once again. Recent COVID restrictions meant that we had to keep them closed for nearly 18 months. Even so it was not as busy as in recent years, before the virus hit us, it was still an enjoyable week here in the walled garden. Arts and craft workshops in the Teahouse and traditional Halloween props inside the garden buildings and outside in the walled garden made a difference.

Pic14 A particular nice piece!

The Garden Bothy felt very cosy and displayed the traditional craft how to carve turnips instead of modern pumpkins.

Pic15 The Garden Bothy

A lovely double rainbow greeted me this morning when opening the garden. We will see few more of these within the coming few weeks in between the showers!

I will be back with more news from the Victorian Walled Garden here in Kylemore Abbey beginning December. 

Pic16 A double rainbow frames the Parterre and Head Gardeners House


Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke