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30 JUL

What's under the boardwalk?

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July has been a pretty good month for us in the gardens. There is a huge amount of growth and fantastic colours around every corner. There are certain areas of the gardens that deserve a special mention this time of year. If you are visiting in the next few weeks make sure to see our Tropical Border, Jungle and Fern Garden that are all thriving. The Herbaceous borders, Poison Garden and the Seven Sisters are also well worth seeing.

We have almost completed our new boardwalk in the Fern Garden, and I am delighted to see how well it fits in. It will provide a viewing platform from which people can look down into the Fern Garden and as it sits on top of the waterfall, it creates a certain atmosphere that makes it particularly special.

This time last year I was talking about the development of our Carnivorous Courtyard which is now completed and is proving a be a popular attraction for all. Carnivorous plants are plants that derive some or most of their nutrients from trapping and consuming animals or protozoans, typically insects and other arthropods but in some cases frogs, lizards and even rats. They have adapted to grow in places where the soil is thin or poor in nutrients, especially nitrogen, such as acidic bogs. Their pungent scents, glistening glue or grasping tentacles lure their victims to a nasty end, and many species are native to Ireland.

We are in the process of summer pruning our fruit trees. Apples and pears can be pruned now to encourage fruit buds to form next year and also to maintain shape or train the tree into a shape. There are two periods for pruning, December/January and July/August. As a rule winter pruning encourages growth of new shoots and summer pruning discourages growth. We also prune stone fruits now, tipping back and tying in new growth on our wall trained plums, peaches and nectarines. Stone fruits should only be pruned in early spring or midsummer as this reduces the chance of silver leaf disease. Fruit pruning is not very complicated if you follow a few basic rules, and there are many helpful sites on the internet with step by step guides.

A good tip that I can give this month is to plan your bulb order now. You can probably still remember how things looked in the spring. Make a few notes as to where you would like some extra colour in the garden, then select bulbs that suit. Too often bulbs end up as an impulse buy that get stuck in a corner and forgotten about. This can lead to some nice surprises but often leads to disappointment. Bulbs, like any other plant, have certain preferences and it pays to do a little research first. We have just completed our order, so we are going to have a busy Autumn!

I was recently asked to compile a list of the developments in the grounds and gardens over the last ten years and seeing it all down on paper really brought it home as to how much we have developed in a relatively short time. We now have one of the top gardens in the country and can offer a full family day out, regardless of whether you choose to include the castle in your visit. I would encourage anyone who sees us as just a tourist destination to come and see for yourselves. I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam

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