Behind the Castle Walls with Adam, Head Gardener Blarney Castle

An amazingly colourful April

I would venture to say that this has been the best year for a long time for Magnolias, Camellias, Rhododendrons and spring flowers in general. They have been exceptional this month with colour throughout the gardens. The azalea beds that run from the Mansion to the Castle are coming into flower now and will be a sea of colour for the next few weeks. They are definitely worth a visit! We call this area the Belgian Beds as the original stock plants came from Belgium. We added four new beds this spring and are in the process of renovating some of the others. There have been a lot of ‘housekeeping’ jobs to do this month, including mulching beds, edging lawns, pruning and tidying shrubs and when possible a little bit of weed killing on the hard surfaces. I find if you get on top of things early, it makes it a lot easier later. Our newest garden area in the lower rock close is beginning to take shape and expect to see some very interesting developments in the next few weeks. We feel that the design compliments the existing rock close gardens and are very excited about it. Over the last few weeks we have planted around 1000 native primroses throughout the gardens. They were grown from seed sourced in Mallow so they are pure Cork natives. They will compliment our own Blarney Castle primroses and the rest of our collection of Irish cultivars. Jobs for the next few weeks: Plant indoor tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers if you haven’t already, start to tie in and pinch out growth on the grape vine, thin indoor peaches to ensure a good quality crop, sow herbs in six packs and then plant out when they reach a manageable size, this also works well for lettuce. Watch out for slug damage and check for greenfly both indoors and out. A good tip for dealing with greenfly is mix some washing up liquid and water in a jug to make a lot of foam, then apply this foam directly to the infested areas to completely cover the aphids. It is very effective! Now is the time to start thinking about staking herbaceous plants before they become too established. Dahlias can be planted out in the beds now and we will shortly be moving out our more tender ferns and tropical border plants. There is still a risk of frost though so be on standby with horticultural fleece. We recently took stands at Fota Plant Fair and Clare Garden Festival to advertise the gardens and also this year’s Blarney in Bloom (12th July) and while there picked up quite a few rare and interesting plants. Speaking of Blarney in Bloom, it’s shaping up well. There will be a lot of additional features this year, with a programme of gardening talks from expert speakers, the birds of prey returning, interactive arts and crafts displays, specialist plant nurseries, live music and children’s entertainment. It is all in aid of the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind. Anyone wishing to take part please drop me a line at: blarneygardens@blarneycastle.ie. I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam

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