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Green Fingers: Nature doesn’t follow any calendar

Green Fingers: Nature doesn’t follow any calendar

The popular Snowdrop Week at Altamont Gardens runs from February 12 – 18

Depending on who you talk to, spring starts on February 1. Some people believe it begins on March 1st. Plants, of course, don’t obey any calendar and so calendar dates don’t mean anything to them. What we can do as gardeners is take our cue from nature. We can keep vigilant and notice when wild plants come into flower and in to leaf. This will help us keep track of the seasons and will keep us informed of when and when not to perform certain garden tasks.

The first of these natural milestones is the flowering of the snowdrops. Our family are travelling this weekend to County Carlow to enjoy the start of their annual Snowdrop Festival. We have attending the event before along with our twins and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. This year's Snowdrop Festival occurs between February 1 and 29. As in previous years we will be making a visit to Altamont gardens in Carlow.

The 1,100-acre Kilbride Estate in Tullow, Co Carlow, welcomes the return of their Snowdrop Festival in February. Visitors are invited to view the unique collection of more than 100 named varieties of snowdrops, started by the late Corona North, to celebrate the arrival of spring. The Altamont Gardens have been cultivated since the 1750s and are now under the watchful eye of head gardener, Paul Culter, who will be giving tours at 2pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the duration of the festival.

Visitors can enjoy 16 hectares of formal and informal gardens, which will be blooming with a carpet of snowdrops, at Altamont Gardens in Tullow, Co Carlow. The estate's collection, first started by Altamount’s late owner Corona North, is one of the largest in Ireland with over 100 named varieties.

On Saturdays at 2pm Robert Miller of Altamont Plant Sales will lead a free tour of the snowdrop collection around the Walled Garden each Saturday at 2pm. Nearby, the gardens at Burtown House near Athy will open every Wednesday to Sunday and feature an extensive collection of snowdrops, aconites, hellebores and early bulbs. Early Spring bulbs and a carpet of snowdrops can also be seen at Shankill Castle, Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny from February 1-28 with the opportunity to avail of a castle tour while you're there. And at Huntington Garden in Clonegal, Co. Carlow, walks featuring snowdrops and spring plantings are available every weekend from 11am to 4pm.

As you can see, there is lots to do and see in Carlow for this year's Snowdrop Festival. On another note, I am patiently awaiting the arrival of flower seeds which I have ordered online. My plan is to start planting these seeds sometime next month. By the end of the summer these plants will then be strong enough to be planted out and hopefully will flower next year. Examples of these plants are foxgloves and delphiniums.

Contact James

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