Behind Castle Walls with Adam

For this month’s blog I have decided to mix things up a bit, so as well as the usual monthly updates and information I will focus in on a specific area of the gardens. This month I have chosen the Rock Close gardens. The Rock Close is the oldest surviving part of the estates gardens and dates back to the 1750’s. It was created by the Jeffreyes family who bought the Blarney estate in 1703. As was fashionable in Ireland at the time, and to ensure some domestic comforts, the Jefferyes built a gothic mansion against the east wall of the Castle in 1739. Along with this new mansion came the development of gardens and the substantial investment in creating what is still today, a garden of impressive proportions. Large limestone boulders were moved around to construct fanciful follies such as the Witch’s Kitchen, Druids Cave and Wishing Steps. A magical world was created, with suggestions of long dead druids, fairies and other mystical beings. The magic remains to this day, and if anything has become more potent with the passage of time. Comparisons are made to Narnia, Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, but in reality, Blarney had it first! Time doesn’t ever stand still, but in the Rock Close it certainly gives you that impression. We have recently added several new features to the Rock Close, restoring the water garden to what I believe was something very similar in the past, and adding a new druid feature in the form of the Seven Sisters stone circle and gardens complete with its own story. Hopefully these new features will stand the test of time. Everything is looking fabulous at the moment and the main displays of Azaleas and Rhododendrons in the Belgian Beds are just starting. Don’t miss a visit to see them as they are simply breath taking. The gardens have really come to life in the last few weeks and there is colour around every corner. I recently had a photographer friend remark that he didn’t know where to point his camera first. We have quite a few new projects lined up for the next few months including replanting of the Herbaceous Border, planting out a lot of our wild collected Vietnamese specimens, construction of two very interesting follies in the Himalayan Valley, and a new wildlife observation hide on the lake. As usual there’s a lot going on. Jobs for the next few weeks; Plant indoor tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers if you haven’t already, 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 works very well. 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 are in the process of planting out our more tender ferns and tropical border plants. It’s very satisfying to see them back in the ground for another season. I hope to see you in the gardens. Adam

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