Behind Castle walls…

As we exit from June, I find myself feeling very positive about the coming summer season. Our overseas visitors are starting to return in larger numbers, and the locals continue to support us. We get stopped daily by visitors who are amazed by the grounds and gardens, and I feel there is a new energy about the place. Features like the Tropical Border, Jungle, Poison Garden, and the Herbaceous Border are all looking fantastic now. The rose pergola that frames the Herbaceous Border is in full bloom and is a tunnel of scent. It is worth coming just to experience it! We have recently taken delivery of a new batch of sculptures for this year’s sculpture trail. I love installing new pieces in the gardens, and I always work with the artist to try and find a great location that suits each piece. The siting of a sculpture can make a huge difference so it’s important to get it right. Keep your eyes peeled as you walk around the gardens and see if you can spot the new additions. Maintaining the gardens is always a challenge, especially this time of the year. Weeds are doing their best to invade the borders and the pressures of regular maintenance work make it difficult to keep on top of everything. 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. The apple crop is looking good this year after a couple of disappointing years due to late frosts that caused damage to the blossoms. Our berry crops are also ripening nicely and hopefully, we will have bumper crops all around. This will produce some jam, ice cream and apple juice for the cafe next year as well as a new batch of our Blarney cider! Our bees are also having a good year and we hope to be adding honey to the shop shortly. 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 and tying in the new growth on the peach and nectarines to form next year’s branch structure. 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. I am delighted that so many people have discovered the gardens and are making use of the facilities. There really is something here for everyone. If you haven’t been recently or ever, then please do pay us a visit. I guarantee you will not regret it. I hope to see more of you here soon. Adam

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