Behind the Castle Walls with Adam, Head Gardener Blarney Castle

Daffodils in December As usual December was pretty hectic in the gardens as well as at home.  There is a pressure to finish projects in time for Christmas, even though it will all still be there afterwards! Things went well in 2014 and we have achieved a great deal. We have continued to grow and develop the gardens and have added several new areas. The new boardwalk and forest trail are now open and link up the lower and upper rock close without the need to use the wishing steps, which is often a point of congestion. The Rock Close has seen some major renovation, including another new hosta bed, clearance and replanting around the Fairy Glade and the creation of the Seven Sisters garden which includes a circle of Neolithic standing stones and new prairie style borders. This area is still in development but we aim to have it finished by March. Renovation of our arboretums is continuing and we have recently planted around 40 new rare varieties of trees. The coming weeks will be a busy time for our tree surgeons as they try to complete all the winter pruning work while the trees are still dormant. The Himalayan Walk has really started to develop this year. This is the path from the Mansion down past the Lime Kiln to the Walled Garden. It was very overgrown and in need of TLC. We have cleared the banks and planted up with varieties of rhododendron, azaleas, magnolias and camellias which will create a real ‘wow’ factor in the spring. Our snowdrops on the front avenue are starting to emerge and a couple of early varieties are in flower in the winter border. It’s always one of the first real signs of spring for me. The daffodil avenue was already starting to flower before Christmas but I expect it will be in full flower by February. It’s always a joy to walk down the hill with over 40,000 daffodils surrounding you. Our glasshouses are due for a major clean in the next few weeks, not one of my favourite jobs! We will shortly be starting our bedding plants for summer; this is the start of sowing time for seeds in a heated propagator, but wait until February for most. We already have sweet pea growing on and will be trying a few different varieties this year. The seed of early vegetable varieties of lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and peas can be sown now. Start them in a propagator or a warm windowsill, and grow them on in a greenhouse or poly tunnel. 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. We are looking forward to 2015 as another great year in the gardens. We would like to wish you a happy new year from all of us here. We hope to see some of you in the gardens. Adam