March is usually a very busy month for us in the gardens. The usual maintenance jobs such as grass cutting, edging and weed control are all now ongoing, but there are still many seasonal jobs to complete such as spring pruning shrubs like hydrangeas, Buddleia and cornus; mulching beds and paths, resurfacing paths, feeding and scarifying lawns, and getting all the vegetable beds up and running. I find if you get on top of things early, it makes it a lot easier later. Although it’s hectic, I find this time of year hugely satisfying. The new growth and the warmth of a sunny day brings a fresh energy that sets us up nicely for the year ahead.
We have a few new projects that are either ongoing or in the pipeline. A new set of steps at the lime kiln has just been completed. The lime kiln is just off our Himalayan walk and these steps will finish off the area nicely. There are a couple of other projects planned for this area so watch this space. We have opened several large new vegetable beds in our Kitchen Garden in an area that was traditionally used for vegetables but had been grassed over and grazed by sheep for the last 50 years or so. It will be great to see it brought back into production and take another step towards restoring the Kitchen Garden to something resembling its former glory. Planting out all our tender plants back into the tropical borders, fern garden and other areas has been delayed a little due to the colder nights. I expect we should have most things back out by Easter. It will be a relief to get some space in the glasshouse and polytunnels. Another big project that we have been working on for the last couple of years is the Vietnamese woodland. This is a conservation project in partnership with a horticultural institute in Vietnam and is going to be an extremely interesting garden. The area will be full of wild collected Vietnamese plant species, many of which are endangered in their natural habitat. We will be planting out a lot of our seed grown plants in the next few weeks and I am excited to see how they perform in the Irish climate.
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 as the weather gets milder. If you are visiting the gardens 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. It’s been an exceptional year for spring flowers and there is a riot of colour around every corner. Let’s hope the rest of the year is as good.
I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam