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Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Garden Blog November December 2021

GB Winter

The time of year has come when everything is about wrapping up.

Our tender plants like Agaves and Ginger Lilies are nicely re-homed in our Vinery to protect them from the worst of winter storms and colds and our subtropical Head Gardeners Border is screened behind a wind breaking net. Our winters are very unpredictable, and we could end up with unexpected snow or icy blizzards like in 2010 and 2011. Back then, we lost all our Tree ferns in the Fern Garden for example, we learned from that and moved them into the Vinery for the winter month.


Pic1 The Vinery is housing tender plants over the winter months


Pic2 Jenny is enjoying the sheltered and heated spot in our Vinery


Few palms like Trachycarpus fortuneii, the Chusan Palm, are very hardy on the other hand and only need a fleece protection in the coldest of winter. The Chusan Palm is originally from China and can grow in an altitude of 2400 m. They also give great architectural interest, especially in the wintertime, with their shiny green fan like leaves. 

Pic3 The Chusan Palm with its architectural fan like leaves in our Parterre


All spring bulbs and bedding plants are planted by now. Every year we plant a selection of heritage bulbs in terracotta pots to place around the Parterre once they flower. The pots are labelled so the visitors and us know which type of plant is growing in each pot. We mainly choose special varieties which are difficult to get anymore. These varieties can be very expensive, one Tulip bulb could cost up €5.00 or more so we have to treat them nearly like treasures. One of these varieties is the Dutch Tulip ‘Lac van Rijn’, one of the oldest available Tulip varieties available, dating back to around 1620. Once they finished flowering, we would take the bulbs out, dry and store them until they are getting replanted in the coming year.

Pic4 Terracotta pots with a selection of heritage varieties of Tulips, Daffodils and Hyacinths 


Other jobs in the Formal Flower Garden would include pruning roses or top-dressing beds with compost or mulch for winter protection, especially around tender plants like Fuchsias. The orange-red autumn colour of Cornus controversa, the Wedding Cake Tree, gave a lovely contrast against the green lawns and complimented the reddish colour of the brick walls. The last storm blew of the last of the leaves!

Pic5 View over the Formal Flower Garden with Cornus to the front


Work in the Vegetable Garden is slowing down, the last plots are getting covered with seaweed or black plastic to protect the soil from getting washed out over the coming months. The seaweed and sheep wool will also help the overwintering crops, like spring cabbages for example, to stay in place and not get uprooted. Both natural materials are full of important nutrients and will release these slowly into the soil. 

Pic6 Locally collected seaweed between spring cabbages


We also started to tackle our ongoing problem with the box blight. We had to make the unavoidable decision to take out the worst stretches of Buxus plants and replace them with the alternative evergreen Euonymus japonica ‘Microphyllus’. I did a lot of research which plant to go for and the Euonymus came the closest to the Buxus, especially for our climate here on the west coast of Ireland. We will see coming year how the plants are establishing. We also took cuttings to propagate these plants ourself and the first ones started to root. The longterm plan is to raise all replacement plants on site from cuttings. We are talking about 800m of Buxus plants which need to be taken out and replanted by Euonymus. That’s a total of around 3500 plants!

Pic7 Newly planted Euonymus hedge along the Comfey plot


Our weather is very unpredictable at the moment. Today is a lovely calm, crispy and sunny day for example. Storm Barra didn’t do a lot of damage thankfully, it could have been much worse if the wind direction would have changed to our disadvantage.

Below are few more images from sunny days, when the Kylemore lanscape is just spectacular.

Pic8 Morning mist over Maladrolaun Lake on the way to the Walled Garden

Pic9 Early morning in the Walled Garden with view over the Twelf Bens mountain range

Pic10 Robin on our sun dial


I wish all my readers a lovely Christmas, maybe with a bit of gardening between the turkey and ham!

Nollaig Shona!


Your Head Gardener

Anja Gohlke

Pic11 Christmas greetings from the Head Gardeners House