A new year…

Around the 12th January last year I wrote a blog about the deep mid-winter. The photos spoke for them selves and this year I can add the above beauty. It’s a camellia called Hawaii. We’ve had it for years and it is too tender to live outside, but it is clearly very happy under glass in the Walled Garden.


Going through yesterday to see what was going on, there was certainly more than there has been before. JT didn’t really feel we needed to grow anything in the winter. That time of year was for tidying up. Historically the glass houses were of course for  extending the seasons and keeping things going for the House. There is really quite a lot going on. Above you can see that the lovely scented rose Lady Sylvia is blossoming and in the background you can see my physalis – or Cape Gooseberries – they are in season now and utterly delicious in Clandeboye yogurt for breakfast. You can also see our Kalettes. Now, there was a disaster. We’d heard fantastic things about this new hybrid between a Brussels Sprout and Kale, but both the ones we grew inside and outside were tough as old boots. Nice flavour, but impossible to make them edible.



The indoor celeriac is coming on and over the New Year weekend we made traditional French Remoulade to go with a duck Pitihivier on Saturday 2nd January. I have this nutty idea that Ox can have my celeriac for Stephen’s utterly gorgeous Hay baked Celeriac, if he calls it single Estate celeriac. Intimating that this celeriac is on par with some fab wine!






It is very encouraging to see that our rhubarb is doing much better than last year. This time last year it was barely out of the ground. It is amazing what cow manure can do for plants. Since JR arrived we’ve spread it practically everywhere in the Walled Garden and it’s not looked better in years.


Later this winter we are going to make a start on the other half of the 12 rooms. JB and I planted the 6 we created about 6-7 years ago. The photo  below is a view from a helicopter in 2010. As you know I’ve evicted the chickens from the west side of the Walled arden and that is the space that we are now going to prepare. The fruit trees are not the most fantastic of successes, fruitily speaking, but JR and I have independently come to the conclusion that we do not have the right pollinators to get the fruit. So we are in the process of choosing pollinators and where they should go to make the most of them. With the bees we now have in the Walled Garden I am reasonably optimistic about the coming season. It is quite interesting to look at this photo from 2010 and see how much we’ve actually done. I might just blog about the changes soon.


In 2015 I was given a wonderful book about the history of citrus growing in Italy. It is called The Land where Lemons Grow and it is amazing. A couple of years ago I thought that as climate change is clearly raising the temperatures in this country and as we are so close to the sea – which makes the climate very benign – I would attempt to plant a lemon grove. I had 7 trees that BD has grown from seeds he collected last time we visited his cousin in Nevis. They were planted by JB last year and they are doing well. We’re about to wrap them in fleece to protect them from the cold, should it ever come. In the mean time I’ve now read Helena Attlee’s wonderful book and I am clearly on the right track regarding lemon groves. We are about the enter the blood orange season. According the Ms. Attlee, the reason Sicilian Taracco oranges are so special is exactly because the temperature on Sicily drops quite low at night. Unlike the Florida and Spanish blood oranges which get an even 18-20 C  day and night. It is ths drop in temperature which make the Sicilian blood oranges particularly good. I’ve ordered 80 kg to be delivered by 3rd week in January, so I’ll keep you posted.

To end this edition I’ve photographed my most prolific lemon tree. And look at those lemons, aren’t they looking promising? I am already looking forward to a Shortcross gin with Fever Tree tonic, a slice of Co. Down lemon….. bring it on!





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