Behind Castle walls with Adam

November was not so nippy The Autumn colour around the gardens is magnificent right now, and well worth a trip in to see. I love to walk through the arboretums and along the riverside and woodland walks, where the low sun casts a wonderful golden glow through the branches. November has been an incredibly mild month overall, and we are still waiting for any period of prolonged frost to let the plants know that winter has arrived. That said, I’m taking no chances and have all the more tender specimens lifted and relocated to their winter homes in the glasshouses and poly tunnels inside our walled kitchen garden. We have been busy with tree and shrub planting over the last few weeks, including some fantastic new additions to the winter borders. Excellent bark colours add a striking contrast this time of year. Some good recommendations include Prunus maackii ‘Amber Beauty’, Betula utilis ‘Jacquemontii’ and Tilia cordata ‘Winter Orange’, but there are many options out there. The key is placement to ensure they stand out against their background. This is still a fairly new part of the gardens and we only completed the main path last month so still plenty to do! Bulb planting is always a big job this time of year and we have nearly completed the task at this point. We try to add new areas and mixes to our regular displays and over the last few years have put a lot of emphasis on naturalising bulbs so that they come back every year and provide an ever-increasing quality show. This has worked well, and the gardens have really become a sight to behold in the springtime. Ongoing work in the gardens is very typical for the season, with emphasis on tidying, cutting back and mulching. A big job for us this time of the year is leaf collection. We compost a lot of our leaf litter, as it’s a free source of extremely good mulch for plants. Let’s face it the natural ways are usually the best! We do not however collect up the leaves from our main Lime tree avenue. These are pushed back under the trees to provide a protective mulch and feed for the snowdrop and bluebell bulbs that live there. December is always a month where we aim to finish up projects etc, but I have learnt to be realistic. Life goes on in January! Planned work for the month includes wind lopping roses to prevent wind rock, roughly digging over vegetable beds, tidying up and disinfecting glasshouses, planting, or moving bare root trees and shrubs, sorting out compost bins and spreading on the surface of vegetable beds, tree surgery and general housekeeping. All of us here in Blarney Castle Estate would like to wish everybody a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year. We hope to see more of you in the gardens next year. Do make use of the season passes, as they represent excellent value for money. I look forward to seeing you in the gardens in 2023. Happy Christmas! Adam

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