Behind Castle Walls with Adam

A Jumbled-up June.

June has been an awkward month in the gardens. Cold nights have meant a slow start for many of our vegetables in the Kitchen Garden. It looks as though things are finally coming around though, and the torrential rain followed by a rise in temperatures and even some sun, promises a sudden surge in growth. The warmer overnight temperatures will make all the difference, and features like the Tropical Border, Jungle, Poison Garden and the Herbaceous Border are starting to look 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!

This is always the most difficult time of year to manage a garden of this size, as everything grows at once, including the weeds, and it’s a struggle to keep on top of maintenance. That being said, I’d rather have a few untidy patches here and there, it’s of great benefit to the wildlife around the estate.

Blarney Castle & Gardens holds the prestigious title of ‘Wildlife Estate’ which is awarded under strict guidelines by the European Landowners Organisation. We have, over the last few years, implemented many changes to enhance and encourage biodiversity on the estate, as well as establishing methods of educating the visitors. Some of our more recent projects include the bee observation house, planting areas of wildflower meadow, widening our field margins to create wildlife corridors and the current building project, our new lakeside bird hide. We have also drastically reduced our use of chemicals and artificial fertilisers here in the gardens, and the Kitchen Garden has gone fully organic. In the café we have introduced compostable cups, and we are currently reviewing all our other packaging. We are extremely lucky to have such diversity of wildlife still in Blarney Castle grounds and I feel it is our responsibility to maintain and further enhance this little oasis.

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, thanks to our busy bees, 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 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. Our hanging baskets are always a showstopper and the secret is regular watering and feeding. The extremes of drying out and soaking are the worst possible combination for any plant.

I hope we get a good Summer now and that the gardens respond to the sunshine and I hope to see you in the gardens. Adam