Behind the Castle Walls with Adam, Head Gardener Blarney Castle

June has been a total blur! It was a very dry month and we had to start watering a lot of our newly planted areas which meant that the weeds also got a boost. Growth rates increased significantly over the last few weeks and we have been literally run off our feet trying to keep up. Our students and volunteers are a big help in keeping things looking good at this time of year. Over the last few years we have added significantly to our summer colour, and there’s now something of impact almost everywhere you look. The roses are amazing throughout the gardens. The Tropical Border and Poison Garden are both looking great and the Herbaceous Borders are spectacular! One feature that’s often missed are the flowers on trees in our arboretums. Our Liriodendron tulipifera or Tulip Tree is currently in full flower in the lower arboretum. The new Seven Sisters garden is starting to take shape and I’m impatient to see how it looks once all of the grasses mature. The next step will be planting bulbs through the grass beds and woodland areas in the autumn. In the glasshouses our peaches have ripened and the nectarines, apricots and grapes are all coming along nicely. Pretty good crops all round. The strawberries were slow this year but seem to be picking up now that we have had a little rain. Our new rows of raspberry and loganberry canes are looking good too. There will be plenty of summer fruits ice cream made this year! Jobs for July will include pinching out tomatoes and cucumbers side shoots, thinning growth on our grape vines and also thinning the fruit to improve the overall crop. Ongoing watering and feeding is very important. We feed every second week with phostrogen for the ornamentals and seaweed for the vegetables. In this dry weather you should make sure the plant has been watered prior to feeding it so that it does not take up too much too quick. Hedge clipping will be a big job here over the next few weeks. It’s always nice to get the fluff back off and tidy things up a bit. Now is a good time for taking cuttings in the garden. Many shrubs will root readily and it’s a good way of increasing your plants without the expense. I always encourage plant swapping and if you have a few spares then it gives you something to bargain with. We will be taking cuttings from a lot of our rarer trees and shrubs over the summer and autumn. Not only will it give us material for swapping with other gardens, but it will also act as a back-up stock should one of the mother plants die. Blarney in Bloom is on Saturday 11th July from 10am – 5pm and promises to be a great event. There’s a huge amount going on around the estate including specialist plant nurseries, garden equipment and a farmers market, family orienteering, birds of prey, garden talks, arts and crafts demonstrations and children’s entertainment. It will be a great value family day out and of course all will benefit a very worthy charity, Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind. I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam