Behind the Castle Walls with Adam, Head Gardener Blarney Castle

August has gone in the blink of an eye and we are suddenly looking towards autumn. It seems as if the trees are already starting to colour up and night time temperatures are dropping. Growth has been great this month, and we are still cutting grass on a weekly basis. A lot of our new plants are thriving and the Fern Garden and Tropical Border both look particularly well. I just hope we get a bit more sun before autumn really sets in. The herbaceous borders are starting to fade in places and we are dead heading and tidying as required. Now is a good time to take stock of what you might like to change for next year. Overall it has been a good show this year and we are very pleased, but some plants have taken over a little too much and require some thinning out. We plan to add some new varieties before next spring to increase the diversity and extend the flowering time. It’s the time of year for pruning hedges, mulching beds and general tidying up in the vegetable garden. We have been cutting back our old raspberry and loganberry canes and tying in the new ones for next year’s crop. We have dug up the last of the potatoes. Lifted shallots, garlic and onions and planted out brassicas and leeks. Now is the time to sow spinach, winter lettuce and rocket to take you through to the autumn. Our Irish orchard is cropping well again this year. I was worried that it would suffer with the strange mix of weather that we had over the spring. We will be using most of the apples to make our own juice but at the moment we are experimenting with using the windfalls to make apple jelly. All of the trees are heritage varieties and it is very interesting to compare the differences between them. We are in the process of renovating an old apple store in our walled garden. We plan to put this to good use in the coming years as a cider brewing shed. It’s not too early to start thinking about bulbs. Bulb planting can be started in the next few weeks. The fresher they are when you plant them, the better they perform. Make a few notes as to where you would like some extra colour in the garden, then select bulbs that suit. Too often bulbs end up as an impulse buy that get stuck in a corner and forgotten about, so don’t forget to label them. We add to our collection every year and this year’s order will include more miniature narcissus and ornamental onions that I hope to naturalise in some of the grass areas. We will have to start thinking about winter protection of less hardy plants over the next few weeks. Some of our tree fern varieties and specimens in our tropical border will have to be lifted and brought indoors for the winter months. Others will be protected with straw, fleece or heavy mulch. We will then pray that we have a mild winter. I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. AdamAdam Whitbourn