Behind Castle Walls with Adam Whitbourne

March has been another busy month in the gardens and I would say we are at least two weeks behind last year for growth. Although spring is here it is still pretty muted, and I’m waiting to see the big show. Last year I was talking about the stunning colours in the gardens from the rhododendrons and magnolias, so let’s hope we catch up soon! Saying that, there is still plenty of colour from the early flowering bulbs and the primroses are out in force. Over the next few weeks look out for our Cherry trees, Magnolias, Camellias and Rhododendrons. Some of our Magnolias are magnificent and our huge Rhododendron arboreum ‘Cornish Red’ on the Himalayan Walk is an amazing site. The unpredictable weather has also delayed us planting out a lot of our more tender plants in the tropical and jungle borders. We normally have them out for the Easter weekend, but as things stand, it was just too risky, so they will stay indoors for another week or two. Our bee observation house which will offer visitors an opportunity to look into our kitchen garden and see working bee hives is finally ready to open. There will be information on bee keeping, as well as on conservation and biodiversity. It will provide visitors with another area of interest and adds to our growing wildlife friendly projects. We are finally starting to get to the end of clearing up from all the storm damage through the arboretums although there are still some major clean up jobs in the woodland areas. One thing we are not short of this season is wood chips for our garden paths. There have been a lot of ‘housekeeping’ jobs to do this month, including mulching beds, resurfacing paths, feeding and scarifying 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. April is usually a very active month in the gardens. Everything is coming into growth and the regular maintenance work starts to come online and eat into our available time. Jobs for the next few weeks include sowing sweet corn, runner beans and outdoor salad crops, carrots, parsnips and beetroot. Plant out onions, shallots and potatoes if you haven’t already. Plant indoor tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and tie in and pinch out new growth on the grape vines, hand pollinate indoor peaches to ensure a good quality crop, sow herbs, check for greenfly both indoors and out. A good tip for dealing with greenfly is mix some washing up liquid and water vigorously in a jug to make a lot of foam, then apply this directly to the infested areas to completely cover the aphids. It works very well! Organisation of our own Summer Garden Fair, ‘Blarney in Bloom’ is well underway. This year it will feature a new show garden as well as the regular rare plants stalls, farmers market, arts and craft areas and a dog show. Mark the 15th of July in your diaries now! I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam