Behind the Castle Walls with Adam, Head Gardener Blarney Castle

The Madness of March March simply flew by and we are very busy here in the gardens. There has been a real mixed bag of weather and growth slowed down as a result of a few cold nights. Unfortunately we had damage on some of our earlier flowering magnolias as a result. In general though, we have had a raise in temperatures and this has triggered growth throughout the gardens. Everywhere you look there’s signs of new life; buds bursting, flowers opening and new seedlings emerging. This has to be my favourite time of year. Over the next few weeks look out for our Cherry trees, Magnolias, Camellias and Rhododendrons. Some of our Magnolias are spectacular this year and our huge Rhododendron arboreum ‘Cornish Red’ on the Himalayan Walk is an amazing site. We have been adding to our primrose collection, so look out for new plantings along the river banks and woodland walks. The weather did improve in time for the traditional start of our tourist season, Saint Patrick’s week, and the good weather brought a lot of visitors to Blarney. Let’s hope it’s a sign of things to come. This time last year we were finishing clearing up storm damage in the lower rock close. What a difference a year can make. We are now in the process of planting the garden of the Seven Sisters and look forward to seeing it develop over the season. There are large grass borders that break up the site, with gravel paths meandering through them and the stone circle dominating the area. It’s quickly becoming a tourist favourite. Another new development that is taking shape is our stumpery and camellia walk. We recently purchased over 300 camellias which have been planted to add an extra blast of spring colour on the path that leads into the stumpery. The stumpery itself is planted up with a selection of ferns and other shade loving plants. It will continue to improve over the coming years as everything matures. Uncovering all of our tree ferns in the fern garden is always a difficult decision. They are protected from heavy frosts over the winter with a layer of straw and horticultural fleece. I took the decision to remove it all before Saint Patrick’s weekend. They look a lot happier to be free of it. April is usually a very active month in the gardens, and there are a lot of jobs to plan out. These include feeding the lawns, seed sowing including sweet corn, runner beans and outdoor salad crops, carrots, parsnips and beetroot. Plant out onions, shallots and potatoes if you haven’t already. Repot houseplants, plant indoor tomatoes, check for pests such as aphids in the glasshouse, start to spray roses for black spot and weed through beds. Organisation of our own Summer Garden Fair, ‘Blarney in Bloom’ is well underway. It will be bigger this year and will feature some big names from the world of horticulture as well as more interactive garden, arts and craft areas. Mark the 11th of July in your diaries now! I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam