Behind the Castle Walls with Adam, Head Gardener Blarney Castle

May ended with a bang and temperatures have gone through the roof. Plants are finally catching up after what was a very unsettled spring. Unfortunately so are the weeds! We are under huge pressure trying to keep on top of everything here. Weeding and watering have become the two main jobs, along with grass cutting and strimming. It’s always this time of year when I feel most stretched. It really is a question of juggling jobs to try and keep things tidy. Although it is hectic, it is also the time of year when you start to see a lot of results from your winter and spring projects. Our rhododendron and azalea beds have been amazing so far this year. There is still good colour there and it’s well worth popping in to see them. We have planted huge numbers throughout the grounds over the last three years and it’s very satisfying to see them starting to fill out. The four new Belgian beds have filled out and the newly planted areas are establishing well. The newly planted beds at the main entrance are also starting to put on growth and it’s great to see the roses that we transplanted are none the worse for their ordeal. We are in the process of planting up all of our display beds with mixed bedding and have hung our hanging baskets. In the beds we generally use a mix of begonias, petunias, lobelia and geraniums. The secret to a good display is regular watering and feeding. We use phostrogen plant food every second week through the growing season. We also use the largest baskets possible as they are so prone to drying out. The glasshouses are looking full and we have peaches, nectarines, apricots, grapes, strawberries and assorted vegetables all coming along nicely. There is good bloom in our new heritage apple orchard this year, but it is definitely later than last year. I am hoping to improve on last year’s crop and maybe start to experiment with cider production. Jobs for June will include sowing outdoor vegetables, pruning grape vines and pinching out tomatoes and cucumbers side shoots and start to feed with seaweed feed or similar. Spray the potatoes for blight if necessary. Keep an eye out for pests as the weather warms up. We introduce biological controls for aphids and mealybug in our glasshouses. Spray roses for blackspot and aphids or use soap suds if it’s a small infestation. Plant out bedding if not already done; keep up to speed with watering both in and outside. Newly planted or potted plants are especially prone to stress from drying out. Our annual Summer Garden Fair ‘Blarney in Bloom’ is on the 10th of July. There will be a lot of additional features this year, with a programme of gardening talks from expert speakers, interactive arts and crafts displays, specialist plant nurseries, live music and children’s entertainment and a dog show. It is all in aid of the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind and should be a great family day out. Anyone wishing to take part please drop me a line at: blarneygardens@blarneycastle.ieAdam Whitbourn