Behind the Castle Walls with Adam, Head Gardener Blarney Castle

The March of the Magnolias March simply flew by and as I’m writing the sun is streaming through my office window. Finally! 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. 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. 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. We are finally starting to get to the end of clearing up from all the storm damage through the arboretums although there are still some major clean up jobs in the woodland areas. One thing we are not short of this season is wood chips for our garden paths. We have nearly finished clearing the lower rock close area that was decimated by the storms. We have a blank canvas and plans are in progress to add a real wow factor to this area. All will be revealed in the coming weeks. 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. The waterfall really does add a whole new dimension to the area and the ferns set it off nicely. We will be planting ferns around it this year in the crevices and cracks which should make it look more established. 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. We have recently submitted an application to build a small garden at Bloom this year, which is very exciting for us. It’s a postcard garden that measures 3m x 2m so the challenge is to fit all of Blarney Gardens into that little space. It will be a great team exercise and all of the lads have had a hand in the design and development. 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 12th of July in your diaries now! I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam