Behind Castle Walls with Adam Whitbourn

I’m looking out of my office window at rain, but I have to say its welcome rain. We haven’t had very much this month and we’ve had to do a lot of watering, which has taken the gardeners off their usual seasonal work. We have a lot of newly planted areas in the gardens, so the pressure has been on in the last few weeks. I just hope the rain stops again at some point! Our newest area ‘The Jungle’ will definitely benefit from the humid weather, and I hope to see a flush of growth in the coming weeks. After all, we can’t have a jungle unless it’s overgrown. I think that May was a magical month for colour in the gardens, especially this year. Everything just seemed to be dazzling and flowers held very well on the plants. I’d say it’s our best year in the gardens so far, with many of the younger plants only flowering for the first time it really showed the gardens potential as things start to mature. We are just finishing planting up all of our display beds with mixed bedding and have put up 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 was good bloom in our new heritage apple orchard this year, so we are hoping to have enough fruit to start our cider experiment this autumn. 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. This might sound odd, but I’m currently planning this year’s bulb order. It is much easier to do it now while you can remember what you had where and what has performed well. For your own gardens, just make a list of ideas and notes that you can refer back to later. I’m gradually introducing more species that will naturalise and add interest through our riverbanks and woodland walks, such as bluebells, anemones and alliums. Our annual Summer Garden Fair ‘Blarney in Bloom’ is on the 9th of July. There will all the usual features, with specialist plant nurseries, a programme of gardening talks from expert speakers, interactive arts and crafts displays, a farmers market, live music, children’s entertainment and a fun dog show. Entry also gets you into the estates 60 acres of gardens. 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: