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26 NOV

Movember Madness

Just to stray off topic for a little while, ten of the staff here had been participating in Movember. For the whole of the month they have been growing what proved to be an extremely varied range of moustaches. With their “Mo’s” men raise vital funds and awareness for prostate and testicular cancer and mental health. It was a great success and certainly provided added interest for our visitors.

November has seen a few frosty mornings and the first hints of winter. The colours in our arboretums and woodlands have been exceptional this year. I hope some of you got to see.

nov 1

Christmas is approaching fast and the hustle and bustle and general madness is definitely upon us. Work in the gardens has become very typical for the season, with emphasis on tidying, cutting back and mulching. We have also started planting bare root trees, including new apple varieties in our orchard which will add to our range of traditional Irish trees.

We have put our tree ferns to bed, well wrapped up to protect from the elements, or in some cases, moved indoors for the winter. Dicksonia antarctica is the common tree fern and is generally hardy in light frosts. The crowns of our tree ferns are protected by first stuffing with straw, which is then wrapped in horticultural fleece. For anyone who has a couple of specimens in their garden though, my advice would be to bring them indoors in a pot, and not take the risk.

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 fairly realistic. Life goes on in January!  Other 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.

nov 2

We have had a great year here in the gardens and I feel that things have progressed very well. We completed our fern garden waterfall in March which added a missing element to what was already a beautiful location. We have renovated several overgrown areas of the gardens and added more paths along the river which have been well received. Our main aim is to constantly strive to improve the overall standards of the gardens and add more labels and educational information for the visitors.

I was lucky enough to spend a good half of November in Sikkim, studying native plants as part of a 12 person expedition. It was wonderful and hugely informative and this has provided great inspiration for our own Himalayan walk, so watch this space.

All of us here 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 2014.

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