The Pursuit of Autumnal Harvesting - The Gloss Magazine

The Pursuit of Autumnal Harvesting

Seek some beautiful spots for this autumn’s harvest. Get involved or simply enjoy the splendour of your surroundings at these picturesque locations.

In “An October Garden”, poet Christina Rossetti laments the barreness of her garden, how her “broad faced asters” are nothing compared to summer blossoms. Few amateur gardeners would disagree but getting outside and doing some gardening this time of year has its advantages, not least so we can benefit from vital vitamin D to boost our immunity over the winter. For gardeners in the gardens of great houses and hotels, this is an important time for prepping, planting and planning ahead. If you visit any of them this month or next, you’ll see plenty of activity, and get some inspiration too.

Autumn in the walled garden at Ballynahinch Castle, Connemara is one of the busiest times of the year. Says estate manager Cian Cunniffe: “There are numerous jobs to ensure the garden will look as good if not better next year. Our focus over the last few years has been on planting bulbs and this year we ordered over 42,000 daffodil, crocus, iris, bluebell, snowdrop and tulip bulbs to plant during October and November.” Try: Beechhill Bulbs, based in Tullamore, with Ireland’s largest range of daffs and tulips, some Irish-grown.

Pumpkins at Cliff at Lyons

Cliff at Lyons, Co Kildare, has its own ecosystem of sorts, with a new farm
adding polytunnels, orchards and potager gardens to supply the kitchens of Aimsir
and The Mill restaurant. “I actually love winter and the barrenness of it,” says chef
patron Jordan Bailey. “We plant cabbages, broccoli, leeks and parsnips, and do
an audit of the year’s produce. We record everything we harvest by weight so we
can determine what we need more or less of, so the space we have becomes more
productive.” Bailey is making space for some piglets too, who will join resident bees
and chickens. Try: The garden-to-plate Aimsir Farm Experience which includes a
tour of the farm and “snacks” prepared by Bailey.

Chef Jordan Bailey;

Coopershill House, Co Sligo;

Helen McCauley, head gardener at Coopershill House, Co Sligo, is preparing
vegetable beds for onions and garlic, as well as using the time to improve soil
structure by planting cover crops which provide important nutrients. “The biggest
job is to ensure that all the vegetable beds are covered with something over winter;
none of the beds should be left with bare soil exposed,” she says. “On beds that
have finished producing – such as potato and pea beds – we sow green manures
from our suppliers Fruithill Farm and The Organic Centre in Leitrim.” This year
she is opting for a mix of phacelia, clover and vetch. “Where we can, we cut up any
remaining vegetation and leave in situ instead of putting on the compost heap; we
then cover this with seaweed. Try: Covering beds with cardboard or newspaper
to suppress early weeds and stop the goodness in the soil leeching away over the

At Rathmullan House, Co Donegal, the kitchen and walled gardens
supplies The Cook & Gardener restaurant and Batt’s Bar. Gardener Esther
Gustaffson lives by the motto, “If you want to use 100 per cent of your produce,
plant 110 per cent.” “Seaweed and horse manure is our liquid gold,” she says. TRY:
Westland Organic Seaweed Liquid Feed, €9.95;

Gardener’s Cottage, Ballyfin, Ballyfin Demesne;

“Remember to feed the birds and they will repay you with slug control,” advises
Kayliegh Keenan, head gardener at Ballyfin Demesne, Co Laois. She has a
long to-do list at this time of the year, from harvesting the last of the summer
crops to pruning perennials and roses. “It’s a good time to make leaf mould and
start a new compost pile,” she adds. Try: A stay in Ballyfin Gardener’s Cottage, a
little piece of horticultural history and the perfect base for discovering the special
areas of conservation on the estate, foraging for mushrooms and autumn berries
or visiting the walled garden and vegetable

The Ocean Garden Dunmore House Hotel, Clonakilty;

Gardeners should have Dunmore House Hotel, Clonakilty on their radar.
Overseeing its Cliff Garden and Ocean gardens, polytunnels and outdoor raised
beds, is resident horticulturist Sinead O’Connor and team, who manage an
organic composting area and use seaweed and other natural manures, along with
companion planting, to increase fertility and biodiversity. “As we harvest our
crop of Westland Winter, Scarlet Curled, Red Russian and Italian cavalo nero, we
plant new ones to see us through the winter.” Edible flowers, kohlrabi and herbs
are also grown thoughout winter and supply the hotel’s Michelin-recommended
Adrift restaurant. O’Connor is also busy harvesting apples, pears, figs and
wineberries: windfalls are juiced, bagged or frozen while apples are wrapped
carefully in newspaper and stored in the dark. Try: Planting bare-root fruit trees
and shrubs during winter, which gives theirroots time to establish.

Researching daffodil varieties carefully can provide four months of spring
colour, Anthony Egan, head gardener at Cashel Palace, Co Tipperary, tells
us. He plants four or five types for succession, and also replaces tired-looking
summer bedding plants with winter pansies and violas for a blast of colour in dark
winter months. Try: Afternoon tea at Cashel Palace and a visit to the gardens, laid
out by Edward Lovett Pearce in the 1700s.

Ballymaloe House, Co Cork;

Mags Coughlan, head gardener at Ballymaloe House, Co Cork, tackles
jobs that have fallen by the wayside during the summer. “Dig out pernicious
weeds, prune apple and pear trees, repair fences, turn compost bins and then
retire inside with a gardening book to inspire you for next season.” Try: The Well-
Tempered Garden, Wisdom & Advice by a Legendary Gardener, by Christopher
Lloyd, Orion Publishing.

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