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31 MAY

A great display in May

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May was a pretty difficult month in the gardens with quite unsettled weather. This meant that we delayed planting out a lot of our tender tropical plants and bedding. Things seemed to be settling down in the second half of the month though and we are in the process of playing catch up. We are planting up all of our display beds with mixed bedding and have just put up our hanging baskets. In the beds we generally use a mix of begonias, petunias, lobelia and geraniums. The secret to a good display is regular watering and feeding. We use phostrogen plant food every second week through the growing season. We also use the largest baskets possible as they are so prone to drying out.

The regular maintenance work of grass cutting, strimming, edging and weed control is now taking up a large portion of our available time and it really is a question of juggling jobs to try and keep things tidy. Although it is hectic, it is also the time of year when you start to see a lot of results from your winter and spring projects.

Our rhododendron and azalea beds have been amazing so far this year. There is still good colour there and its well worth popping in to see them. We have planted huge numbers throughout the grounds over the last few years and it’s very satisfying to see them starting to develop. The four new Belgian beds are starting to fill out nicely and have flowered very well.

The glasshouses are looking full and we have peaches, nectarines, apricots, grapes, strawberries and assorted vegetables all coming along nicely. There was good bloom in our new heritage apple orchard this year, so we are hoping to improve on last year’s crop. Our new bee observatory is proving extremely popular with visitors. They are able to observe the bees coming and going from their hives and there are several information panels in the building. We produced a small amount of honey last year, and we hope to get a lot more this time around. Keep your eyes open in the shop later on in the year.

Jobs for June will include sowing outdoor vegetables, pruning grape vines and pinching out tomatoes and cucumbers side shoots and start to feed with seaweed feed or similar. Spray the potatoes for blight if necessary. Keep an eye out for pests as the weather warms up. We introduce biological controls for aphids and mealybug in our glasshouses. Spray roses for blackspot and aphids or use soap suds if it’s a small infestation. Plant out bedding if not already done; keep up to speed with watering both in and outside. Newly planted or potted plants are especially prone to stress from drying out.

Our annual Summer Garden Fair ‘Blarney in Bloom’ is on the 15th of July. It is always a great event, with a programme of gardening talks from expert speakers, specialist plant nurseries, arts and crafts, live music and a fun dog show. It is all in aid of the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind and should be a great family day out. Anyone wishing to take part please drop me a line at: blarneygardens@blarneycastle.ie. I look forward to seeing you in the gardens.

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