Behind the Castle Walls with Adam, Head Gardener Blarney Castle

An Arid August August was a generally sunny and dry month with rainfall well below average. A lot of time has been spent watering our new planting but the gardens have coped pretty well and growth has been good. We are struggling with low water levels in the rivers and bog garden area, and as a result we have had to deepen the well for the pump that powers our waterfalls. We have made great progress on the new projects in the lower rock close and expect to be able to open up or new boardwalk within the next few weeks. It will provide a link between the lower rock close and upper rock close, as well as a woodland walk on the other side of the river. We have also just tied in our willow tunnel and plan to extend it into the new area next spring. This makes good use of a very boggy area of ground that we have been struggling with. The herbaceous borders are starting to fade in places and we are dead heading and tidying as required. Overall it has been a good show this year and we are very pleased. We tried some new metal loops as plant supports this year and they worked very well. You can see them in the border. It’s the time of year for pruning hedges, mulching beds and general tidying up in the vegetable garden. We have been cutting back our old raspberry and loganberry canes and tying in the new ones for next year’s crop. We have dug up the last of the potatoes. Lifted shallots, garlic and onions and planted out brassicas and leeks. Now is the time to sow spinach, winter lettuce and rocket to take you through to the autumn. Our Irish orchard is cropping well this year. All of the trees are heritage varieties and it is very interesting to compare the differences between them. We will be using most of the apples to make our own juice. The indoor grapes have been a bit hit and miss this year with our newer seedless variety performing well but our older Black Hamburg producing less good bunches than usual. We also have a big problem this year with wasps feeding on the grapes. Bulb planting can be started in the next few weeks. The fresher they are when you plant them, the better they perform. Make a few notes as to where you would like some extra colour in the garden, then select bulbs that suit. Too often bulbs end up as an impulse buy that get stuck in a corner and forgotten about, so don’t forget to label them. I recently attended a very interesting talk on succession planting that made great use of bulbs as early colour through herbaceous borders and shrub beds. We have been doing a bit of this but it has inspired me to do more so watch this space. We will have to start thinking about winter protection of less hardy plants over the next few weeks. Some of our tree fern varieties and specimens in our tropical border will have to be lifted and brought indoors for the winter months. Others will be protected with straw, fleece or heavy mulch. We will then pray that we have a mild winter. I look forward to seeing you in the gardens. Adam