Behind the Castle Walls with Adam, Head Gardener Blarney Castle

October Glory I have titled this month’s blog October Glory after a particular tree, a cultivar of Acer rubrum that is growing in front of the mansion. It catches my eye every time I pass it and is just a blaze of crimson. October has been a very productive month here in the gardens. We are definitely well into autumn now and the trees throughout the grounds are providing a wonderful show, with bright gold, vivid reds, buttery yellows and endless shades of orange and brown. There’s a photo opportunity around every corner! We have been busy competing with the red squirrels to collect seeds for our propagation projects. Luckily there is enough to go around. We are moving into the time of year where we are able to look at new projects and clearance work that we don’t have time for in the spring and summer months. The new boardwalk in the lower Rock Close is now complete and we will be planting up the garden of the Seven Sisters over the next few weeks. We will be planting nine flowering Cherry trees and creating large drifting beds of ornamental grasses mixed with assorted perennial flowers. As well as this, we are also planting up some new areas of native woodland along the boardwalk, which will add to the already considerable biodiversity here in the castle grounds. We are also planning a stumpery this winter and regular visitors will have seen the pile of stumps accumulating close to our lookout tower. This will be an interesting project and will fit in well with the surrounding gardens. Our bulbs and winter bedding are nearly all planted at this stage. It’s a labour intensive job and our Friday morning volunteers have been a huge help. We would welcome any ‘new recruits’. We meet at 9.00am every Friday (weather permitting) and finish at 1.00pm. Contact me at blarneygardens@blarneycastle.ie for more information. Our fruit and vegetable areas are currently undergoing their autumn tidy. We are organising our beds for next year and planning where to plant what. I have just placed an order for some new fruit trees which will be wall trained as fans and espaliers. For our seasonal vegetables we have a crop rotation system in place, which helps prevent pests and disease and keeps the nutrients in the soil more balanced. We will shortly be planting out garlic and shallots and sowing sweet pea indoors for next year’s crops. We are currently keeping glasshouse vents open overnight to encourage leaf fall on our indoor fruit such as peaches and grapes. The grape vine needs to be fully dormant before we start to prune it. Other jobs we will be doing over the next month include: lifting and dividing herbaceous perennials, although I prefer to do this in spring, wind lopping roses, spreading compost and digging over vegetable beds, leaf collection to form next year’s leaf mould, lifting dahlias, begonias to overwinter inside, fleecing tree ferns to protect from frost, planting of new bare root hedging and trees. It’s a very busy time of the year for us here in the gardens and usually, in my experience, the time when you achieve the most. Come and see us in November! Adam

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