Open gar­dens well worth a visit

Bray People - - LIFESTYLE - A N D R E W C O L LY E R ’ S Prac­ti­cal Gar­den­ing TASK OF THE WEEK CHECK AP­PLES FOR BIRD PECK­ING DAM­AGE AND PRO­TECT IF NEED BE PLANT OF THE WEEK

AU­GUST, the tra­di­tional hol­i­day month is upon us. At this time every year, al­though I would ad­vo­cate it at any time, I cham­pion the pur­suit of gar­den and park vis­it­ing.

Ire­land is rich and blessed in both the plants we are able to grow and in the many world class gar­dens and parks that dis­play th­ese plants and our great gar­den­ing her­itage. From the cas­tles, abbeys, demesne, coun­try houses, city and town public parks to the hand writ­ten sign by the road­side pro­claim­ing ‘ gar­den open to­day 12 till 6’ I think we should sup­port them all. Some may be his­tor­i­cally more im­por­tant than others but all add to the di­ver­sity and lin­eage of our gar­dens.

Like it or not many of our most im­pres­sive gar­dens are thanks to our priv­i­leged, wealthy, landed an­ces­tors who no doubt planted their gar­dens and park lands not with ‘ hoi pol­loi’ in mind but for their own grat­i­fi­ca­tion and sta­tus. But we have how­ever been left coun­try wide, many now state owned, with gar­dens full of ma­ture spec­i­mens of na­tive and ex­otic trees and shrubs from all four corners of the world.

Th­ese gar­dens were planted at a time when for the gen­eral pop­u­lace gar­den­ing was a food source rather than an amenity but in our changed so­ci­ety I think it is im­por­tant that we as gar­den­ers ‘pick up the man­tle’ and in our own smaller plots con­tinue to plant for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

When con­sid­er­ing open gar­dens the first stop­ping point must be the Na­tional Botan­i­cal Gar­dens in Glas­nevin, Dublin. Founded in 1795 it is home to 20,000 plant species and is the cen­tre of hor­ti­cul­tural ed­u­ca­tion in the coun­try. Set over 20 acres along the Tolka river it is al­ways a won­der and a plea­sure to visit. The hot­houses and green­houses are un­equalled any­where else in the coun­try and al­ways a favourite with chil­dren. The fact en­trance is free is both as it should be and an added bonus. There is a sis­ter gar­den also part of the Botanic Gar­dens in Kil­macur­ragh in County Wick­low that is less struc­tured in lay­out but equally worth a visit and also free.

Hav­ing ar­rived in County Wick­low, the gar­den of Ire­land for good rea­son, you are spoilt for choice. Pow­er­scourt gar­den, con­sid­ered the third best gar­den in the world by Na­tional Geo­graphic, in the most mag­nif­i­cent set­ting, the ro­man­tic Mount Usher with 5000 species on dis­play and a fan­tas­tic num­bered tree walk, con­sid­ered the best gar­den in Ire­land by Gar­den­ers World mag­a­zine and Kill­rud­dery gar­den all un­der the drop of a blan­ket.

Al­ta­mont in Car­low; Gar­nish Is­land gar­dens, Cork; Kyle­more Abbey, Gal­way; Mount Con­greve Water­ford; Blar­ney Castle Cork; Malahide Castle, Dublin; Mount Ste­wart County Down; JFK ar­bore­tum, Wex­ford; Phoenix Park, St. Stephen’s Green; Her­bert Park. I don’t want to cre­ate a list but if I did the list would go on and on. You get the gen­eral idea though and those gar­dens and parks men­tioned here are just some of the very well known ones, there are hun­dreds of others all wor­thy of vis­it­ing in every county across the coun­try.

Th­ese gar­dens are great sources of ideas and in­spi­ra­tion even if the scale of them is some­what grander than your own hum­ble patch. Go armed with a note book and smart phone, al­ways check open­ing times and never take slips and cut­tings.

The Palm House at the Na­tional Botanic Gar­dens

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