Behind the Castle Walls with Adam, Head Gardener Blarney Castle

Marching on….. As usual March flew by and as I’m writing this I’m finding it very hard to account for where it went! In general 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. 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. The new development at the main entrance area is nearly complete and the courtyard area inside the entrance has really enhanced the existing cherry tree, which is just coming into flower, and is promising to be spectacular. Over the next few weeks look out for our Cherry trees, Magnolias, Camellias and Rhododendrons. Some of our Magnolias are magnificent this year and our huge Rhododendron arboreum ‘Cornish Red’ on the Himalayan Walk is an amazing site. There have been a lot of ‘housekeeping’ jobs to do this month, including mulching beds, resurfacing paths, feeding lawns, pruning and tidying shrubs and when possible a little bit of weed killing on the hard surfaces. I find if you get on top of things early, it makes it a lot easier later. April is usually a very active month in the gardens. Everything is coming into growth and the regular maintenance work starts to come online and eat into our available time. 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! Another new path has been put down this month to extend our woodland walks. It links up the end of the Himalayan Walk and the Fern Garden. We plan to plant a lot of woodland species through the area including rare rhododendrons and maples from China and Vietnam. It should be an interesting addition to the gardens. Organisation of our own Summer Garden Fair, ‘Blarney in Bloom’ is well underway. This year it will feature a new show garden as well as the regular rare plants stalls, farmers market, arts and craft areas and a dog show. Mark the 10th of July in your diaries now! I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam