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31 AUG

A hint of Autumn?

ferngdncharles

August has brought the first hints of autumn here in the gardens and although the stormy weather over the last month has caused some damage, we are thankful that it was nothing major. We’ve still plenty of colour in the gardens, particularly on the herbaceous borders and seven sisters where the late summer flowers are providing sustenance for a huge range of butterflies and bees. The buddleja beds that we have planted in the seven sisters are starting to mature, and their common name of butterfly bush is definitely accurate, as they are festooned with a multitude of species on a sunny afternoon. I have seen Red Admirals, Peacocks, Fritillary, Painted Lady’s, and Tortoiseshell to name a few.

We recently completed our new fern garden boardwalk and it is already proving to be popular with visitors. The wooden boardwalk runs along the cliff edge above our fern garden and provides a platform to view the waterfall and landscape below. It is also a great spot for family and group photos. Originally, we had planned to complete it in early March, so it is a relief to finally have it up and running.

It is the time of year for pruning hedges, mulching beds, and general tidying up in the garden. We have been cutting back our old raspberry and loganberry canes and tying in the new ones for next year’s crop. We have dug up the last of the potatoes, lifted shallots, garlic and onions and planted out brassicas and leeks. Now is the time to sow spinach, winter lettuce and rocket to take you through to the autumn.

Our orchards have had a mixed year. Some late frosts caused significant damage to certain varieties as they were in flower and this led to a very low fruit yield. Those that did fruit, have done well though and we still have a reasonable crop. All the trees are heritage varieties and form part of our collection of old Irish cultivars. It is very interesting to compare the differences between them. We will be using most of the apples to make our own juice which is sold in our cafe. A little bit usually finds its way into a cider batch too.

Bulb planting can be started in the next few weeks. The fresher they are when you plant them, the better they perform. Make a few notes as to where you would like some extra colour in the garden, then select bulbs that suit. Think about successional planting, so that as one variety is fading there is something else coming out. Too often bulbs end up as an impulse buy that get stuck in a corner and forgotten about, so don’t forget to label them. We have planted huge numbers throughout the gardens over the last few years, and I try to use varieties that will naturalise and multiply, so we get repeat flowering and good value for money. We do use bulbs in our bedding displays, especially tulips and hyacinths, and these are replaced every year as they do not do well in our Irish winters.

I hope the summer is not over yet and we still get a few days of sunshine through September. I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam

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