It's the time of year for pruning before the trees start to wake up. It was a sharp learning curve for me as I only had a few hours experience over a year ago.
Susan and Mags were extremely patient with me as we went through the art of pruning the dabinett (apple) and they explained the basic principles over two days. On the third day, I felt confident enough to try one by myself. It went well enough but I feel it is a skill you can continuously improve upon.
In between this (the pruning) there were plenty of other things to be done in the garden. As it was my first week, I was learning how to harvest for the restaurant. The last of the winter veg is coming to an end and the garden will soon be filled with seedings. We harvested beetroot, leeks, scallions, kale, purple sprouting broccoli and leaves and herbs from the glasshouse. The leaves which are used for salad are a wonderful mixture of various spicy, bitter and juicy leaves. There is a definite skill in picking the right amount of each type to add colour, texture and flavour for salads and garnishes.
The ornamental garden will also soon be springing to life. My background so far is in veg growing, so I am interested to learn more about the ornamental side of things. There is a very interesting bed in the ornamental section that has been planted using a ‘lasagna method’, so there is always something in bloom, at the moment irises and snowdrops are in bloom.
Words by Siobhan Boyle Agricultural intern at Ballymaloe House