Not Enough Days in January

Not Enough Days in January

January has flown by, and I can’t believe that I’m already writing this. We are extremely busy in the grounds and gardens as we prepare for the coming tourist season. This is the time that we get chance to bring in larger machinery and complete construction and maintenance jobs that would be impossible to do during the rest of the year. Visitors to the gardens will see a lot of action around the grounds as we renovate paths, and complete construction work. Our new playground is due to start installation in the next couple of weeks and I’m excited to see it finished. It’s a considerable upgrade from our existing one.

There’s some good early colour around the grounds, with drifts of snowdrops and cyclamen popping up, but our daffodil avenue is currently stealing the show. It’s planted up with over 30,000 Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’, a classic yellow trumpet-type daffodil and one of the earliest blooming. It can tolerate cold, snowy weather and it has a long blooming period. We even had a few up in December.

There are a lot of jobs to do over the next few weeks in preparation for spring. We will be putting in our indoor early potatoes and are about to start sowing seeds including tomatoes, peppers, indoor salad crops, leeks, sweet pea, and assorted bedding plants for this year’s displays. Put in shallots and garlic now if you didn’t do it in the autumn. We are about to prune our grape vines and have applied a winter wash made from sulphur, lamp oil and soap. This helps with pests and diseases. Winter pruning of fruit trees should be finished as soon as possible. Do not prune stone fruit such as plums or peaches in the winter. Leave this for spring and summer. Roses should also be pruned back soon before they come into growth.

We are also sowing a lot of our wild collected Vietnamese seed now, and it’s exciting to see things germinating. All the gardens will benefit from new plants and it’s especially interesting when they are wild collected species that are often endangered in their own habitats. Gardens like Blarney can offer a long-term refuge for these rare plant species.

It’s never too early to mow the lawn if weather permits but watch out for emerging spring bulbs. Herbaceous plants can be moved or divided as the soil dries out and bare root plants can still be planted for the next few weeks. If you have a tree or shrub that’s in the wrong place, then now is the time to move it. Dig around it carefully and take as much root as you can then stake it in its new position until its roots take hold. The important thing is to remember to keep it watered over the dry summer months.

There is plenty to see in the grounds and gardens at the moment. I love walking around the lake at this time of year and watching all the birdlife. I’m looking forward to the spring, and to seeing life renew itself all around the gardens. Adam