Behind Castle Walls with Adam Whitbourne

July was a great month in the gardens. It was a little too dry and we have had to spend a lot of time watering, but on the plus side it has really pushed on the growth. A lot of the newly planted areas are filling out nicely and starting to look good. Weed control is always a challenge and a few areas were getting away from us, but thanks to our summer students we are starting to get some control. I recently returned from a trip to Billy Alexander’s tropical plant nursery at Kells Bay Gardens on the Ring of Kerry. I filled a van with an excellent range of plants that are now finding new homes in our Jungle borders. If you are in the area then do drop in to Kells Bay House and Gardens. Their new rope bridge is amazing and the gardens are a lush tropical paradise. Jobs for August include fruit pruning, planning your bulb order, taking cuttings, especially tender plants that you might lose over winter such as fuchsias and pelargonium’s. We are just about to start summer pruning our fruit trees. Apples and pears can be pruned now to encourage fruit buds to form next year and also to maintain shape or train the tree into a shape. There are two periods for pruning, December/January and July/August. As a rule winter pruning encourages growth of new shoots and summer pruning discourages growth. We also prune stone fruits now, tipping back and tying in new growth on our wall trained plums, peaches and nectarines. Stone fruits should only be pruned in early spring or midsummer as this reduces the chance of silver leaf disease. Fruit pruning is not very complicated if you follow a few basic rules, and there are many helpful sites on the internet with step by step guides. We will also be starting our seasonal hedge cutting over the next few weeks. It’s nice to get all the fluff back under control and re-establish some formality in certain areas. We just completed construction of two new sets of stone steps on our front avenue. With the development of the Seven Sisters, a lot of visitors were moving through the area and a short cut back to the avenue up the bank and back down the other side had been worn into the grass. We took the decision to create a new path to make this an easier route for all. These desire lines often appear in the gardens where people create new paths for themselves. I have found it’s usually easier to accept them than trying to steer people away. Blarney in Bloom was a huge success and this was our biggest ever attendance. I’m waiting for a total, but it looks like we raised over 20,000 euro for the Irish Guide Dogs, which is an unbelievable achievement. Many of the visitors to Blarney in Bloom were in the gardens for the first time, and were amazed by what they found. We hope that they will return again over the coming months. I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam