Behind Castle Walls with Adam Whitbourne

It has been an extremely busy month here in the gardens. As I’m writing this we have a mad panic on as we try to wrap up a lot of our more tender plants to protect against the predicted big freeze. Spring WAS definitely on its way. There are little splashes of colour around every corner as the bulbs start to wake up from their winter slumbers. Buds are bursting here and there, and the frogs have been busy in our pond. Let’s hope it isn’t as bad as they are predicting. All the work that’s been going on is finally starting to come together. We have completed our new wooden bridge below the castle. It is primarily made up of locally sourced timber, including oak hand rails from one of our own storm casualties and a local cedar. I’m very pleased with how it’s turned out. We are also in the process of replacing our entrance bridge with a new steel structure. This is also nearing completion. The new toilets and cafe building at the main entrance is keeping us all busy, and we are currently planning the landscaping around it. It’s a big building and I feel it will benefit from some greenery to soften the edges and break things up. We are also allowing for construction of raised stone planters which will be filled with summer bedding to provide additional colour around the cafe seating areas. With all the projects going on it’s easy to forget that the usual seasonal gardens work is also required. We are currently renovating our herbaceous borders, moving shrubs, mulching beds and paths, pruning roses, undertaking assorted tree work, including felling and tidying from winter storms and planting up new saplings in our woodlands using native home grown oaks. In the kitchen garden we are planting potatoes as the soil dries out. Sow seeds of bedding plants, tomatoes and peppers and plant out onions, garlic and shallots if not already done. Pollinate peach, nectarine and apricot trees with a small paint brush. Ours are just coming into flower now. Let’s hope they survive.  Pruning of apples and pears should be finished now. We are starting off our begonia tubers in the poly tunnel. They provide a mass of summer colour to our tubs and baskets around the entrance, and are remarked on every year. I’ve started planning this year’s Blarney in Bloom with Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, which will take place in the grounds of the castle on Sunday 15th of July from 10am until 5pm. The event is going from strength to strength and offers access to the grounds and gardens as part of the entry fee, which is €8, with children under 12 free. Last year we raised over €36,000 for the Irish Guide Dogs which was a record. I hope we do even better this time around. I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam