Behind Castle Walls with Adam Whitbourne

To say the year so far has been challenging would be a major understatement. We are currently baking in the high twenties with no sign of a let up and the entire gardens are crying out for water. There are three gardeners on full time watering duties and we are barely keeping up. On the plus side, it’s the best summer I can ever remember in Ireland and we have masses of visitors who are walking the entire gardens, not just visiting the castle.

The warmer overnight temperatures have made all the difference, and features like the Tropical Border, Jungle, Poison Garden and the Herbaceous Border are looking great. The rose pergola that frames the Herbaceous Border is in full bloom and is a tunnel of scent. It’s worth coming just to experience it!

Along with the watering, our other challenge this year has been keeping up with the weeds. We are very lucky to have a good number of students working with us over the summer, without which we would be simply overrun. We take a very Robinsonian approach to our management of the gardens and let nature mingle where possible, but it does require a certain level of control to maintain that semi-wild charm that looks so lovely. For example, leaving bluebells to go to seed and wild garlic to die back gives time for other less precious species to grow, and this then requires clearing out. It keeps us pretty busy.

In the glasshouses our peaches have ripened and the nectarines, apricots and grapes are all coming along nicely. We also have a promising apple crop. as well as a good range of summer berries. There will be plenty of ice cream and apple juice for the cafe next year! Jobs for July will include pinching out tomatoes and cucumbers side shoots, thinning growth on our grape vines and also thinning the fruit to improve the overall crop. Ongoing watering and feeding is very important. We feed every second week with phostrogen for the ornamentals and seaweed for the vegetables. In this dry weather you should make sure the plant has been watered prior to feeding it so that it does not take up too much too quick.

Blarney in Bloom on Sunday 15th July is promising to be another great day for the guide dogs. It is our regular Summer Garden Fair and features specialist plant nurseries from all over Ireland as well as arts and crafts and traditional farmers market style stalls. In addition, we run a range of garden talks over the course of the day from specialist speakers, as well as a fun dog show that proved very popular last year. Last year’s event raised over €36,000! I was delighted for the charity and I hope we do as well this year. The event also gives free access to the gardens so at €8 entry per adult with children under 12 free, it’s a no brainer! I hope to see you in the gardens. Adam