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Garden Blog April 2021

” In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.”

This quote, by the American Author and Humorist Mark Twain, describes perfectly our recent weather. Snow two weeks ago; summer heat and beach weather last week and very cold easterly winds this week. I feel with all horticulturists out there who experience the same conditions at the moment! It is like minding baby’s, making sure they are either not too cold or not too hot when brought outside. Most of our summer bedding and vegetable seedlings are moved out by now, few delicate ones are still in coldframes. Watering schedules are crucial and sometimes underestimated!

Pic1 Hardened off seedlings along the south-facing garden wall which was formerly the Peach Glasshouse

 

One of the fasted growing seedlings, once the seeds germinated, are beans. The picture below shows the seedlings of the climbing French bean ‘Cosse Violet’. I took these pictures 3 days apart from each other! Other seeds might need two weeks or longer, few need special treatment like cold spells and only germinate after 6 months. The average time for seed germination of annual flowers like Lobelia or Antirrhinum is 10 days, all depending on how warm the environment is. It is important to read the sowing instructions to succeed but that should not put you off in trying it out. Most annual plants and vegetables are very easy to grow and will provide beautiful flowers, vegetables and if desired, seeds afterwards.

 

Pic2 Germinated bean seed just starting to push through the soil level

 

Pic3 Same bean seedling three days later

 

The recent warm spell let the grapes start to flower, too. These flowers don’t need insects like bees for pollination since they bear male and female parts. The proper term for this type of plant is ‘hermaphrodite ‘, a name not easy to remember! We cut back all unwanted new side shoots to encourage the development of the grapes. It looks like we will have a nice bit of crop this year. The cold spell during the winter helped along. Our Heritage grapes are growing in the Vinery glasshouse, specially designed for vine plants during Victorian times; whereas the roots of these plants are growing outside, trained through open arches. This way the plants can get their nutrients from the soil outside but have the protection and heat for the grapes inside.

Pic4 The flowers of our vine plants, these will develop into grapes eventually

 

The first trees are also in bloom, like our Wych Elms. These seeds are out before the leaves appear and easy to spot. We will try to grow new elm trees for our estate from these seeds. Before they can be picked they need to turn brown, only then the seeds are ripe and ready. The seeds can be sown immediately after harvesting since they are not dormant.

The Wych Elm is the only elm tree native to Ireland and grows best in moist and humid conditions. Our climate here in Kylemore seems to be ideal, and newly planted trees thrive well in our temperate rainforest.

Pic5 Wych Elm flowers with the visible seed in the centre on one of our mature trees which are over 150 years old

 

The maincrop potatoes will be planted this week. ‘Pink Fir Apple’, introduced around 1880, is one of the heritage varieties we are planting. The tubers, shown below, were left singled out on a tray in our tunnel to sprout, or chit. Seed potatoes can be easily multiplied when cut in half, as long as enough eyes, the growing points, are left. This is a nice variety to use in potato salads, they also look quite unusual, a bit like Yacon, an edible perennial tuber from South America.

Pic6 Seed potatoes ‘Pink Fir Apple’ chitting in light

 

Our Vegetable plots are getting prepared and are partly planted already mainly with brassicas like kales, cabbages, broccoli’s or sprouts.

The paths in between will prevent compaction of the plots when hoeing and weeding. A layer of fresh seaweed will hopefully keep down the weeds while also feeding the plants with vital nutrients.

The spring cabbages on the right side were planted last summer and are getting harvested bit by bit.

Pic7 Newly prepared Vegetable plots ready for planting

 

Below are a few more spring impression from the Walled Garden, I will be back with more news in May.

Good Gardening everybody!

Pic8 Camassia or Quamash are flowering in front of the Head Gardener House

 

 

Pic9 Rhododedron arboreum, the tree Rhododendron, is in full bloom along the garden avenue. This plant is well over 120 years old and is not invasive like Rhododendron ponticum.

 

 

Pic10 Our climbing Pelargonium in the Vinery has an early flowering season this year

 

 

Pic11 Narcissus poeticus var.recurvus, the Poet’s daffodil, is one of the last flowering daffodil variety

 

 

Pic12 Tulip ‘Peach Blossom’, Tulip saxatiles and white Bellis in full bloom in the Parterre

 

 

Pic13 Tulip ‘Colour Cardinal’ and Tulip sylvestris in the formal flower garden

 

 

Pic14 The blossom of our crabapples are in abundance once again; somehow a ‘visitor’ sneaked in there…

 

Things you can do in your garden in May:

To Sow / Propagate:

~ Succession sowing of radishes and lettuces

~ Sow Carrots and Parsnips (end of May to avoid Carrot fly)

~ Take softwood and non-flowering cuttings of Fuchsia and Pelargonium

~ Take softwood cuttings of shrubs

To plant:

~ Plant Tagetes and Calendula as companion plants between your crops to attract beneficial insects

~ Plant  summer bedding in final position and protect against slugs (try coffee ground)

~ Plant out potted plants to prevent pot bounding

~ Plant runner beans and french beans on climbing supports

To maintain & prune & feed:

~ Trim formal hedges of Buxus, Fuchsia or Escallonia and feed them

~ Put up supports on taller perennials, broad beans and sweet peas

~ Water plants and lawns well in dry spells, mainly in mornings or evenings

~ Prune spring-flowering shrubs like Weigelia or Forsythia after finishing flowering

 

Garden Diary March 2017

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

Anja Gohlke

 

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

To plant:
~ 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