No signs of winter…yet!
November has been an incredibly mild month overall, and we are still waiting for any period of prolonged frost to let the plants know that winter has arrived. That said, I’m taking no chances and have lifted and relocated the more tender specimens to their winter homes in the glasshouses and poly tunnels inside our walled kitchen garden. As we enter December, I find that we are doing our best to get many tasks finished and put to bed before the Christmas break. There’s always that additional pressure of having a deadline, although realistically it will all still be there in the new year!
The Autumn colour around the gardens is magnificent right now, and well worth a trip in to see. I love to walk through the arboretums and along the riverside and woodland walks, where the low sun casts a wonderful golden glow through the branches.
Ongoing work in the gardens is very typical for the season, with emphasis on tidying, cutting back and mulching. A big job for us this time of the year is leaf collection. We compost a lot of our leaf litter, as it’s a free source of extremely good mulch for plants. Let’s face it the natural ways are usually the best! We do not however collect up the leaves from our main Lime tree avenue. These are pushed back under the trees to provide a protective mulch and feed for the snowdrop and bluebell bulbs that live there.
Bulb planting is always a big job this time of year and we have nearly completed the task at this point. We try to add new areas and mixes to our regular displays and over the last few years have put a lot of emphasis on naturalising bulbs so that they come back every year and provide an ever-increasing quality show. This has worked well, and the gardens have really become a sight to behold in the springtime.
Other planned work for the month includes wind lopping roses to prevent wind rock, roughly digging over vegetable beds, tidying up and disinfecting glasshouses, planting, or moving bare root trees and shrubs, sorting out compost bins and spreading on the surface of vegetable beds, tree surgery and general housekeeping.
I spent part of November on a return trip to Vietnam, as the lead on a horticultural expedition to collect and record plant species in the mountainous areas in the north, close to the Chinese border. We have a woodland garden here in the grounds that is planted up with wild collected specimens, many of which are endangered in their natural habitat. This type of ex-situ conservation is vital, if we are to help these species survive in the future. I am delighted that Blarney Gardens can be a part of this and forge links with botanic gardens around the world.
All of us here in Blarney Castle Estate would like to wish everybody a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year. We hope to see more of you in the gardens next year. Do make use of the season passes, as they represent excellent value for money. I look forward to seeing you in the gardens in 2024.
Happy Christmas! Adam