There is an old Chinese saying “the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the next best is now”. I recently had the opportunity to plant not 1 but 6 trees – not the usual ornamentals you would expect, but apple trees, heritage apple trees! One was the old Irish cooking apple the “Sheep nose”, the rest were dessert apples , the “Kerry Pippin and the old Armagh variety “Reid’s seedling” along with some Sligo varieties the “Scarlet Crofton” and the “Irish Peach”. The trees were all planted beside the lodge where an old Victoria Plum and Conference Pear are already well established.
The various beds and borders have put on a good show this year. The mixed border opposite the Lakeshore Suites had a mini make- over during the winter and some of the Crocosmia and Fuschia were removed and a Berberis judiciously pruned to help tidy it up.
Tulip, cyclamen, wallflower and Narcissi were added for spring and early summer colour, the spring showing has definitely improved and the aim now is to have an amazing show of summer colour with a mix of annuals and perennials. The grass area behind the beds was planted with a variety shrubs taken from different shrubberies where they were either overcrowded or just not doing well.
This should improve the aspect of the gardens from both the Lakeshore Suites and also the bedrooms of the main building. Hundreds of tulips were added to some of the beds and borders last year and have put on a good display.
With the re-development of Harvey’s Bar and the enhancement of the main entrance, some very large shrubs were transplanted; most notably the Rhododendron ‘Golden wonder’ that was outside the main reception area. It is now quite happy and starting to flower in its new home at the end of the Lakeshore Suites.
The halt clipping of infected box plant was carried out over the winter to improve the air flow around the centre of the plants and the spraying regime will recommence shortly. Time will tell whether the dreaded box blight has been curtailed.
It was a privilege and a pleasure to represent Harvey’s Point at the recent launch of the Donegal Garden Trail 2017 season (www.donegalgardentrail.com) at the stunning grounds of Oakfield Park. It’s always good to meet up with fellow gardeners and other hospitality providers.
There is a lot going on in the poly-tunnel these days with all of the sown seeds germinated. The usual standby plants such as English marigold, Dahlia and Lupins are doing well and Statice and Gypsophila are coming along nicely. I’m going to try growing these together in a dedicated cut flower bed. October sown sweet peas have already been pinched off to encourage stronger growth and the spring sown ones are due to be pinched back next week. As always I’m trying something new; this year I’m trying Nepal cinquefoil and the delightfully named ‘kiss me over the garden gate’ (Persicaria orientalis). Other new additions to the garden are the Chilean avens – (Geum chiloense ‘Lady Styratheden’ and G.C. ‘Mrs . J. Bradshaw’) along with the Caucasian germander (Teucrium hyranicum ‘Purple tails’) and the threadleaf bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii ). Most of the hanging baskets and some window boxes have been planted up at this stage so it is just a matter of keeping them fed and watered in the tunnel for the next 6 weeks or so before they go out.
I’m a big of fan of Rhododendrons so I always enjoy this time of year; it’s nice to see some of the new Yak Hybrids putting on a show by the Lakeshore Suites.
It is heart-warming to see that Welsh Poppies (a native Irish wild flower despite the name!) have self-seeded in one of the beds by the pond, Primula, Forget-me-nots, Aquilegia and Achillea have also self-seeded in various beds. Unfortunately several Himalayan Poppies didn’t appear this year. I’m not sure why as a grouping of poppies just 1 metre away are doing ok. Another mystery is the non- flowering of 2 young Camellias; they were flowering last year and were well attended and certainly didn’t dry out last summer! In the words of the late Elizabeth Murray, “Gardening is an exercise in optimism. Sometimes, it is triumph of hope over experience. “ .