Behind Castle walls with Adam

January has flown by and it’s been pretty mild overall. There is a sea of snowdrops on the Front Avenue, as well as assorted varieties in flower in the winter border. It’s always one of the first real signs of spring for me. The daffodil avenue is also in full swing with over 40,000 flowers either out of well on their way! People are always amazed to see our daffodils in January. They are an early variety called Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ and I can’t recommend them enough. We usually have a few flowers out for Christmas! The coming weeks will be a busy time for our tree surgeons as they try to complete all the winter pruning work while the trees are still dormant. We have been very lucky with the relatively calm weather so far this winter, and I hope it will continue through to spring. We are in the process of laying out paths and planting our new Jungle area. It’s an exciting project, and there are a lot of rare and unusual plants going in, that make it all the more interesting. We will be constructing a little bamboo hut as a viewing area, and I think it will prove popular with our younger visitors. Our Vietnamese expedition proved to be very fruitful. We already have numerous seed batches germinating and many are exciting new varieties that are yet to be tried in an Irish garden. We hope to have around 200 new varieties to introduce into the gardens over the next few years. Many of these are endangered in their native habitat, so this is a real conservation exercise. There are a lot of jobs to do over the next few weeks in preparation for spring. We have already put in our indoor early potatoes and are about to start sowing seeds including tomatoes, peppers, indoor salad crops, leeks, sweet pea and assorted bedding plants for this year’s displays. Put in shallots and garlic now if you didn’t do it in the autumn. We have just pruned our grape vines and also applied a winter wash made from sulphur, lamp oil and soap. This helps with pests and diseases. Winter pruning of fruit trees should be finished as soon as possible. Do not prune stone fruit such as plums or peaches in the winter. Leave this for spring and summer. Roses should also be pruned back soon before they come into growth. It’s never too early to mow the lawn if weather permits, but watch out for emerging spring bulbs. Herbaceous plants can be moved or divided as the soil dries out and bare root plants can still be planted for the next few weeks. If you have a tree or shrub that’s in the wrong place then now is the time to move it. Dig around it carefully and take as much root as you can then stake it in its new position until its roots take hold. In 2016 we have achieved a great deal, and have continued to grow and develop the gardens. It’s very rewarding to read all the positive comments on social media and on websites like trip advisor. We are looking forward to 2017 as another great year in the gardens. We would like to wish you a happy new year from all of us here. We hope to see some of you in the gardens. Adam