Back from the Christmas break and disaster has occurred. The local wildlife have eaten many of the tulips which were newly planted before Christmas, eating most of the bulb, but leaving the growing shoots. Luckily, we had put by a few bags of tulips aside in a cool shed and have a chance of replacing the losses. This time we will have to net the beds for a few weeks to prevent a recurrence.
Another disaster occurred during the holiday when the door was blown open and cold air seeped into the propagation bay, scorching many cuttings in one night. Hopefully, the small plants will pull through, but several of the unrooted cuttings look frazzled.
But all is not doom and gloom. We are planning new plantings both in the Walled Garden and around the Castle Grounds. These will be added in increments over the next few years. New cane fruit will be ordered this year and a mixture of top fruit (i.e. fruit which grows on tree) and soft fruit for a long stretch of near south facing wall. There are new varieties of peach which are wholly resistant to peach leaf curl, Avalon Pride is one variety we are anxious to trial up here in Glenarm. This fruits in August or September and is reputedly a very tasty melting peach. It flowers in February and so, the flowers need to be protected from the winds and air frosts with fleece and then the pollen has to be moved around with a brush. We would probably also have to keep wasps out too as the fruit ripens in late summer. What could go wrong? But if we ever got a peach or two, all would be forgiven.
Two little seedlings have germinated of a wonderful plant I saw growing in Myanmar. Millingtonia hortensis, the Tree Jasmine or Indian Cork Tree, is a plant I have always wanted to trial as a standard. When I saw it in flower, I was totally hooked. It has long, loose panicles of tubular, star-shaped ivory white flowers, which are borne in such profusion as to make the air throb with their sweet fragrance. There is a chance it will end in tears, but if you don’t try, you won’t succeed.
During January and February, the sap is right down both inside the glasshouses and outside in the garden. Now is the time to begin to prune apples and pears outside and vines, figs, apricots and nectarines inside. It’s going to be a busy year!