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The ever unpredictable Irish weather has forced us to postpone shearing. We will let everyone know via facebook. twitter and instagram what the new date is, when we have it confirmed. 

Thank you for your understanding.

We are delighted that Alice of Macha Yoga, will be teaching a hatha yoga class Tuesday evenings in the Stable Studio from 8pm to 9pm. In this hatha yoga class we will be focusing on short flowing
sequences that fully integrate breath and movement to relax and energise the body and mind. Improve your flexibility, strength and well being in a calm, friendly environment. Mixed ability class with modifications to suit individual needs. Classes are €70 for 6 weeks or drop in for €15 a class, you can contact Alice at 0860686442 or Find our more at

Helen Bourke Barnwell’s Sunrise Yoga continues on Saturday mornings in the Studio. For times and availability please contact Helen directly.



IMPORTANT NOTICE: Our phones will be out of order for repair on Monday 8th May all day. If you need to contact us please email or message us on

There will also be some construction work near the entrance shop this week, we hope to keep disruption to a minimum.

We are very sorry for any inconvenience that this work may cause and we thank you for your understanding


This weekend and all next week the Gardens will be open from 9.30am to 6pm. There are no house tours on Friday or Easter Sunday but will be on as normal otherwise.

Our very special, Easter adventure in the Gardens is SOLD OUT. There are no children’s places left but if you want to bring an extra adult along with your family you can purchase a ticket on the door on the day.

On Saturday we will have the Farm Market from 9am to 3pm. There will be lots of lovely things for your Easter lunch and The Sally Garden are selling off some extra stock as well as our newly begun ‘collectables’ portion of the market, so there will be great value to be had.

We hope you’ll find the time to come visit over the weekend or indeed next week during the holidays.

Happy Easter from Fionnuala, Anthony and the Killruddery Team.


There will be house tours available everyday we are open in April (Weekends and over the Easter Break (8th – 22nd April), with the exception of Fridays and the following dates:

Saturday 15th April

Sunday 16th (Easter Sunday) April

Saturday 28th April. 

Thank you for your understanding we hope to see you here soon.

Head Gardeners blog – Spring 2017

As I write, sitting in my (way too cold) office, here in the walled garden at Killruddery, there is a distinctly un-Spring like feel to the day. Wind is increasing, driven rain pounding the windows, and there’s a sky, grey and disagreeable.

We have little room for complaint as far as the weather maybe concerned, not that that will stop us. But it has been the most gentle of Winters, few days of really cold weather, rainfall levels a fraction of their usual, particularly on the east coast, and a really decent amount of work completed in the garden in the first few weeks of the year. There is of course, more than enough time for Mother Nature to impose herself, reminding us who’s really in charge, and it’d be a foolish Head Gardener that might fail to have a list to hand, of important wet weather work. There is always work of that kind – nursery tasks, machinery maintenance, to name but a couple. Personally though, I have not known a Winter with so little inclement weather, and so many days where the ground (and general) conditions were conducive to achieving so much. Lets hope we don’t pay a high price later in the Spring or Summer.

One of the things we were very much aided in, was moving large amounts (probably close to 100 tonnes) of manure into the Rockwood. The logistics of mulching the Rockwood aren’t especially easy. We require sizeable amounts of material in the general area, though the layout of, and access around the area makes it challenging. Most years, any significant amount of machinery movement around the Rockwood leads to a rapid degradation of the path surfaces, and is in fact unsafe. Manure is of course a heavy material, a little not going a long way. Therefore, it’s a labour intensive and challenging activity in any year, though at least this year, the robust conditions under wheel, allowed an amount of distribution to be completed before application actually began. Even a small amount of rain quickly and comprehensively alters matters in this area, so it was hugely helpful to be able to get material in situ at the right time, ready to be applied. I think it entirely likely, that we will be waiting a long long time for another year in which this task in particular might go so smoothly.

Mulching is very much a job traditional to this time of year. As most readers with even a passing interest in plants know that there are considerable benefits to incorporating bulky organic material to the soil. Primarily for me, I look on it as a soil conditioner, improving fertility, allowing plants to feed more efficiently, of course magically, having an ‘opening up’ effect on heavy soils, while providing a more even texture and balance to light soils, reducing leaching and enabling improved nutrient and water retention and uptake. It really is probably the best single activity you can do to improve soil in planted areas. We use manure in most areas, but in some, depending on what we might be growing, we use a much lighter garden compost, from our own bays here in the walled garden. We’re through quite afew areas by now, Parterre, South Border, Knot garden and Venus walk all completed, as well as areas beneath some of our younger specimen trees. In the coming weeks, the Rockwood will be completed, and a number of other areas will receive similar treatment. It is worth keeping in mind, that large scale addition of manure over time, can in some cases lead to a lowering of the soils pH – acidity levels. This can be counteracted using applications of lime, but is useful at least to be aware of.

Spring time sees a number of routine pruning jobs requiring attention. We’ve already reduced the height of our Roses, particularly the Rosa ‘Queen of Sweden’ at the parterre. This was done in late December, prior to the proper pruning they will receive in probably late February. This is in an effort to reduce wind rock, something roses are susceptible to, and something which is known to promote sucker production from the grafted root stocks. Any hardy shrubs in need of pruning have by and large been completed during say January, slightly more delicate subjects will be left until much closer to (hopefully) proper Spring time and more reliable weather. If pruned too early, the risk exists of young, tender growth being encouraged, and later damaged should a cold, inclement spell occur. Grasses too, are best cut back a little closer to Spring proper, late February or early March being fairly ideal. In most cases, the entire clump is clipped to afew inches from ground level, taking just afew weeks to produce a fine, lush, fresh display of foliage. Around the same time as many of these subjects are pruned, a light dressing of a compound, general fertiliser will be applied.

Less an annual routine – (though this will be the third year) will be the continued pruning of the Irish Yews, two of which are close to the ticket office, the remaining six closer to the Orangery. This is a delicate enough job… A gargantuan amount of work in the first year, its a much less substantial (in terms of material removed) matter this year and last. At this point, it’s a question of pinching the trees in, little by little. The kind of considerations include overall shape and vigour in different parts of each individual specimen, the number, location and strength of available shoots, stems or branches in each. What to retain or remove, be it due to direction of growth, making space for shoots I want to promote, crossing branches etc. It’s a process that needs careful judgement, each cut at this point is important, and is a decision in itself. It’s slow, and something that will continue for some time to come, but it’s gone reasonably well so far, and we feel the trees are progressing, though the prospective outcome for some is better than for others.

Most of the planting work we had lined up was completed in a really productive Autumn period. The single biggest area was the second side of the upper car park, with a large number of bare root hedging plants also getting used, as well as bulb planting. We have some smaller areas to be done in the next while, mostly underplanting in key spots, some areas where we might want to bulk up groups of plants, and one or two small areas that need a little refreshing, most of these in the Rockwood. It’s very early days, but our Autumn planting is all holding up well. I was a little surprised to see the Colchicum giganteum flowering. Planted on November 17th, they were in flower right after Christmas, and still, early February, are providing colour. They would have been expected to flower around September or October next, and hopefully we can still look forward to that. I really don’t know whether their show is a response to the mild Winter, but either way, they continue to look good, providing a visible splash of colour from some distance away, beneath the canopy of Anthony’s Liriodendron tulipifera.

I’ve always really enjoyed all forms of propagation and nursery work in general. For me, producing new plants endures as one of my favourite aspects of our work here at Killruddery. Many of the subjects we grow quite frequently are easy enough – various different Primula (a personal favourite), some grasses, scaboisa, some cultivated forms of Foxgloves to name a few. Each year though, we also try things that have previously proved to be stubborn or downright uncooperative. Last year I had a bumper year, several genera that I had previously had at best limited success with producing decent results, and so, feeling buoyed, am hoping in due course to be able to report some similar outcomes later this year. Anyone can have a go at seed sowing. We use a normal potting compost, sieved to give a really fine, soft, smooth media, perfect for tiny roots to push through. Adding a little perlite helps keep the compost open, and assists with some water retention. There’s numerous very easy subjects widely available – favourites like sweet pea, nasturtium, verbascum and viola are almost foolproof and great for a beginner, even allowing for little or no extra equipment of facilities. Have a go, I (almost) guarantee you’ll get an enormous feeling of accomplishment from even the most modest of triumphs.

Many other tasks are important around now – the usual aeration around lawn areas, some early mowing has taken place, more is certainly due. Lawn feeding will happen in late Spring, weed control will become increasingly necessary, lots more seeds to be sown too. Some potting and division in the nursery, and a lot of urgent work along the avenue, both turf repairs and some tree work. Lots more areas to be cleaned up before growth really ramps up.

With all that ahead, along with the various hiccups and bumps that occur, the return of our visiting members and the resumption of the many planned events and functions and it’s a good thing we’ve enjoyed a nice quiet, restful Winter… if!

Daragh Farren, Head Gardener – February 2017

great-autumn-oak-colourFollowing a particularly dry and notably mild Autumn, Winter has slowly crept in and made it’s presence felt, although still, with some definite exceptions, it doesn’t feel like we’ve had too many especially cold days.

We’ve had a really good Autumn and early Winter from the point of view of work being completed. This Autumn past, has been as beautiful as I remember as far as colour is concerned, the prevalent weather conditions allowing a fine display to be better sustained. Our deciduous trees and shrubs gain their Autumn colour when the production of chlorophyll slows with the reduction in photo period (amount of daylight) and photo intensity (quality of light) which allows other chemicals and pigments always present in leaves – to different extents in various genus, to show through, thus producing the beautiful Autumn colours we’ve all enjoyed this year. The benign conditions – few heavy winds, slow onset of cold weather etc. allowed foliage to be held for longer than most years, producing a more abundant, fuller, and truly splendid display.

These pleasant conditions have also been a great help to us in terms of progressing our usual jobs for this time of year, not to mention allowing some good momentum with our program of additional works. We’ve spent a little less time in the Rockwood over the last probably 2 years than might be ideal, and took the opportunity to address this in part at least. Much of the deadwood and general debris that will always tend to accumulate in an area like this has been cleared, some pruning carried out, and some newly harvested material used to redefine some of the paths, edges and walkways. There’s always so much more to do in an area like this, you really can never be finished. That said, I anticipate we will spend a significant amount of time here through January and February. A huge amount of mulching is due, a big post Autumn clean up on the cards also. There is likely to be afew pockets of new plants used here and there, and probably some more pruning will be required. Thankfully, the overall good progress on our current work plans should enable us to devote ourselves a little more to areas like the Rockwood, where, when pressure of work and workload comes to bear, are among the areas that can get dropped form our thoughts.

bare-root-beechReaders of old may recall my keenness for the use of bare root material. The cost of plants available in this form are always a fraction of those produced in the more familiar containerised form. The kind of material typically associated with bare root planting are the usual hardy deciduous hedging type plants and trees, but a wider selection of material can be bought this way. I would always advise a hedge in particular be planted bare root – nominal cost, easier and quicker to plant and a better, much faster to establish result – it really is a no brainer. This year, we will plant about 550 bare root hedging plants, and are already well underway. No new hedges this year, but a small area of Hawthorn being extended near the Bowling green area, with the bulk of the planting being used to fill gaps, and act as replacement plants to some of the ageing constituents in the Beech, Hornbeam and Lime hedges in the angles and Beech Hedge Pond. I intend each Winter over the next number of years to rejuvenate the pond area and Angles hedges in this way, hopefully managing to have reasonable plants in situ, to take over from some of the older ones, now displaying considerable decrepitude.

bulb-planting-beneath-yewBulb planting is traditionally an Autumn job. Although not quite fitting into the ‘regular maintenance’ column, it feels a little like something that is very much an annual fixture at this time of year. More I suppose an aspect of the development of the garden, we will always do some bulb planting around October/ November, and I find myself in recent years itching to try things that are a little different. It’s certainly true to say that you pretty much can’t fail with the staples – Daffodils especially are available in so many forms and varieties, with variations on colour, height, flowering time, structure etc., – I find it troublesome to whittle my order down to manageable (monetarily and from the point of view of a good planting location) proportions… You’ll always get a very high level of success with the ‘usual suspects’ as far as Spring bulbs go, but trying other things with slightly more exacting requirements re soil and location can be fun and rewarding too. This year, we used a couple of different daffodils – Narcissus ‘Bravoure’ one which I’m fond of – I don’t like them too fussy, and a variety called N. ‘Avalanche’ – a new one for us, promising good fragrance and multi headed flower stems. In addition, we mass planted some Cyclamen hederifolium beneath some Yew, and again trying for something a little different, also as a mass planting, we tried some Colchicum. Colchicum are an Autumn flowering bulb (as is the Cyclamen hederifolium) and in structure resemble a Crocus. When choosing a variety of Colchicum, the flower colour of the one I went for was described to me by my supplier as ‘knicker pink’… With that kind of imagery, my mind was made up, Colchicum ‘Giant’ is was to be. Planted beneath Anthony’s Liriodendron tulipifera, we’ll hopefully see a worthy display in 10 or 11 months time.

planting-underway-at-carparkThe single largest job completed in this period has been planting the second side of the top carpark. It’s pretty much exactly 12 months since we planted the first side. I recall clearly the terrible weather while we planted, and the seemingly inhospitable soil in this area. We planted with a slow release general fertiliser and additional mycorrizal fungi, and this along with timing of planting (Autumn – optimum time) I feel has been the deciding factor (that and the generally, outstandingly wonderful techniques and abilities of my fantastic colleagues…). The planting here, despite the soil conditions, has done really well. The second side was a very different prospect, the weather was beautiful, and having cleared the area, raised the tree canopies and incorporated about 300 tonnes of soil and 50 tonnes of manure, we were planting into very a favourable environment. Several hundred plants were used, almost all either produced on site through seed, cuttings or division, or else grown on in the nursery from plugs or liners (very young plants) over the last year or so. We would have planned ahead with our nursery work, knowing we would need a large number of reasonably reliable mostly shade loving/ tolerant plants. A nice mix has been used, everything from Hydrangeas, Epimediums, Geraniums, Primula, Astilbes, Pachysandra, Thalictrums, Hellebores and many many others. We finished the area off with 50 kgs of daffodil bulbs, and a small fence will be erected here to define and protect the planting a little bit.beautiful-autumn-display

We’ve also planted some Roses, completed some turf repairs, cumulatively spent an eternity chasing leaves, and prepared a lot of our planted areas for mulching. Its been a great period for us, really productive and satisfying and I feel our programme of work is in pretty good shape. Despite all this, post Christmas we will have a full and busy work schedule, but at our momentum is good right now, and we’ll aim to maintain that.

Soon enough, shortly before the Christmas break, my neurosis will kick in (it’s never that far away…) and we’ll begin our ‘Spring’ cleaning of all our sheds and outbuildings. We’ll give our many hard working machines the best cleaning they’ll get till the same time next year, everything oiled and greased, maybe even some paint touch ups and windows cleaned. Hand and power tools will get cleaned, linseed oil might magically make its way onto tool handles – it is Christmas after all…

My office floor will get a clean, and I may even work through some of the stacks of paper on my desk. The garden canteen…well… that’s another story…

To all our members, visitors and clients, Happy Christmas and Happy New Year from Daragh, Dave, Ken and Colm in the garden department.

Daragh Farren, Head Gardener – December 2016