Another May, another gardening course done and dusted! It never fails to surprise me how fast the second half of the course goes but with all the great things we squeeze in from pruning the roses at the War Memorial Gardens to testing soil samples from the students gardens and of course taking cuttings it’s no wonder things fly by in a flash. This year was a bit different to others with the snow back in March and the general slow start to the growing season but as I repeatedly said to the class some years are just slower than others, you just have to play by natures rules!
Our mini heatwave in April did manage to kick start some growth in the garden though which meant the class had the pleasure of seeing the fabulous double pink ornamental cherry, Prunus ‘Pink Perfection’ in blossom at the TCD Botanic Garden. In previous years, this beauty would barely be out by the end of the course so this was a real treat and one I was delighted the class had a chance to enjoy. It's been a fab year for the cherry blossoms with the trees bursting into life across the city, raining their papery pink petals all over the streets. The apple blossoms were also out in full force at Dartry so the class got to see the benefits of the practical we completed on how to prune apples.
Left: Prunus 'Pink Perfection' in flower and Right: Apple blossoms lapping up the sun.
As part of the course, each year we visit gardens in and around Dublin and as per usual we headed down to Powerscourt Estate to visit the spectacular gardens there for our last day trip out. I led the class around the grounds and filled them in on the fascinating history of the garden pointing out all the amazing statuary that the Viscounts of Powerscourt had acquired for the Italian terraces. These include the most exquisite marble statues of Diana the Huntress and Apollo Belvedere who stand proud of place on the upper terrace beside the house and replicas of works copied directly from the Gardens of Versailles in the form of bronze planters adorned with adorable little cupids. Not many people know that the terraces were dug out by hand back in the 1850’s by over 100 men and the task took almost ten years to complete!
One of my favourite features of the gardens at Powerscourt is the Japanese Garden. Tucked away to the left of Triton Lake at the bottom of the Terraces this ode to Japanese garden design is home to the most exquisite spring flowering trees and shrubs including cherry blossoms, rhododendron, camellia and the bright, fresh foliage of the Japanese maple Acer palmatum. After such a long winter, there’s nothing more uplifting that seeing trees covered in fresh buds bursting and blossoms fluttering in the wind. It’s a sublimely tranquil space with all the symbolic features you would expect in this style of garden design and lends itself very well to the acidic soils common across the hills and mountains of Wicklow. I was thrilled to come across the Magnolia stellata in flower and I think my admiration for this beauty was pretty clear as the class very kindly bought me one to say thank you for the course – what an absolute treat and one which I hope to enjoy for many years to come!
At the end of the course we had some nice treats to share amongst the class including sweet pea (well the second batch as the slugs devoured the first!) and nasturtium as well as some veggie treats such as purple sprouting broccoli, patty pan squash and of course we’ll all come back to harvest the early spuds!
Now that summer is almost here, I plan to get out and visit as many gardens as time will permit so will keep you up to date on my gardening adventures. For anyone that is interested in signing up for class next October, we are already taking bookings so do get in touch on 086 393 8467 or firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place today and of course please feel free to share the newsletter with anyone you think may be interested.
Hope you all have a lovely May bank holiday weekend and of course Happy Gardening Folks!