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30 AUG

End of August brings Autumn?

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August has been and gone and we are starting to look towards the autumn. There is a distinct coolness in the air, and we’ve had a couple of misty mornings, which are always a sign of the changing season. I enjoy Autumn and the fabulous colours that it brings throughout the gardens and arboretums.

Our orchards are bursting with apples this year. We didn’t expect much from our cider orchard as the trees are still so young, but they have produced an abundance of fruit that in some cases is overburdening the tree and must be thinned out to lighten the load. We will shortly be harvesting the crop and I’m looking forward to tasting the juice, and later perhaps a nice glass of cider.

Autumn also brings a change in our work schedules, with a move from maintenance of the gardens towards some of the more meaty and challenging jobs. There are new paths to be laid, walls to be built and new garden features to design. This is always an exciting time and I’m particularly looking forward to completing the new Carnivorous Courtyard which is adjacent to the Poison Garden. It should be fully planted up next spring but, in the meantime, I need to locate a few old stone troughs.

This year’s bulb order is due to arrive in the next week or so. We have our usual mix of tulips and hyacinths etc for our bedding displays, but we are also adding large numbers of bulbs for naturalising throughout the gardens so will have our work cut out to get everything into the ground. 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. 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 will have to start thinking about winter protection of less hardy plants over the next few weeks. Some of our tree fern varieties and specimens in our tropical border will have to be lifted and brought indoors for the winter months. Others will be protected with straw, fleece or heavy mulch. We will then pray that we have a mild winter.

We recently found out that our Witch’s Yew tree in the Rock Close has won the Irish Tree of the Year for 2019. We are all absolutely delighted. It’s an amazing veteran tree with a fantastic story and that’s what the competition is all about. Personally, I’m happy to see specimen trees like this getting some recognition, especially in the current climate where such devastation is happening to woodlands around the world. Trees such as this represent both our past and our future, and it is our duty to look after them. Do come and visit our champion tree and take some time to appreciate all our trees in their autumn splendour. I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam

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