Confused plants at Kylemore shoot for spring

Mon, Dec 19, 2011, 00:00

IF CHRISTMAS seems too close to call, it’s already spring in Connemara.

Strawberry plants are fruiting, climbing roses have started blooming and daffodils have broken through in Kylemore Abbey’s gardens.

The daffodil shoots are about five inches above ground, and pear trees are also flowering, while the new strawberries are almost white due to lack of sufficient hot sun to turn them red.

The recent winter snap has not been cold enough to deter the growth, according to the head gardener at Kylemore, Anja Gohlke.

Kylemore’s proximity to the sea means that ground temperatures have been minus two degrees at their lowest.

Ms Gohlke attributes the phenomenon to unusual weather patterns which have perplexed the plants, to the extent that some are four months ahead of their normal cycle.

“We had summer in April, a monsoon in August and now the plants thinks it’s spring,” she says. “Daffodils are lining the avenue to the Gothic church.”

The strawberry plants began flowering a number of weeks ago, before producing snow-like, rather than reddish, fruit.

Brid Connell of the Kylemore gardens’ management team says the early plants may flower again, but later than normal next year.

As a result “we could find ourselves with tulips in the summer”, she says.

Thousands of spring bulbs have been planted in Kylemore’s walled and wild gardens, but no one is able to predict what pattern will emerge.

“Perhaps, the word ‘season’ should be redefined in the dictionary this year – in the Connemara region at least!” says Connell.