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31 MAR

March Madness

cherry

I was thinking of writing this blog without any reference at all to our current situation, but it may be better to address the elephant in the room right at the start. Covid 19 has impacted our lives in ways that would have been unimaginable only a few weeks ago. What started as somebody else’s problem half the world away suddenly arrived in our own homes and families. It has certainly made me re-evaluate my priorities, and the one thing I hope is that we come out of this as a better, kinder society that has had chance to reflect. The gardens are currently closed to the public, but work continues behind the scenes, and we look forward to welcoming you all back soon.

Here in the gardens we are experiencing the full flush of spring. There is new life all around and spring flowers are emerging in every corner. It lifts the soul to witness the rebirth of dormant buds as trees first leaves break out in search of the sun. Our giant Rhododendron arboreum ‘Cornish Red’ is in full flower at the moment in our Himalayan valley and is truly a sight to behold and our cherry tree at the entrance is simply stunning.

Work never stops and this is a very busy period for us. We are mulching beds, finishing planting, weeding, seasonal pruning and of course grass cutting. In the walled garden we are busy with seed sowing, potting on and planting out fruit and vegetables. We just divided our rhubarb and made a much larger rhubarb bed. We are also extending our strawberry beds with a view to making a lot more ice cream for the summer.

Jobs for the next few weeks include sowing sweet corn, runner beans and outdoor salad crops, carrots, parsnips and beetroot. Plant out onions, shallots and potatoes if you haven’t already. Plant indoor tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and tie in and pinch out new growth on the grape vines, hand pollinate indoor peaches to ensure a good quality crop, sow herbs, check for greenfly both indoors and out. A good tip for dealing with greenfly is mix some washing up liquid and water vigorously in a jug to make a lot of foam, then apply this directly to the infested areas to completely cover the aphids. It works very well!

Our return trip to Vietnam last November has proved to be extremely rewarding and we have around 100 new plant species growing in our glasshouses. There are even several possible new discoveries in amongst them. As these plants are established in the grounds and gardens, they will provide a conservation lifeline for the future. Many of the species are endangered in their native range and it is increasingly likely that ex-situ conservation may be the only hope to ensure their survival.

The wildlife on the estate is always something that visitors comment on. For somewhere so close to the city, we are very fortunate to have most of Ireland’s native animals still present. A quiet visitor to the river, lake or woodland walks can be rewarded with the site of an otter, kingfisher, red squirrel or even one of our elusive woodpeckers that have recently taken up residence.

Visitors to the garden are venturing further and exploring new areas. Many locals, coming in for the first time, are amazed at what they find here. I going to go out on a limb now and state that over the last ten years we have created what is one of this country’s finest gardens. Once we reopen our gates, I would encourage you all to come and see for yourselves. Adam

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