COVER STORY

Mag­nif­i­cent gar­dens of­fer­ing all year round colour the star at­trac­tion at re­stored cot­tage on the Ring of Kerry, writes Tr­ish Dromey

Irish Examiner - Property & Interiors - - Property -

Ring of Kerry gar­den de­lights at Tahilla

Carls­berg don’t do ro­man­tic hide­aways — but even if they did, they would find it hard to cre­ate one with the glo­ri­ous gar­dens and stun­ning scenery of Dereen­rickard Cot­tage at Tahilla, on the Ring of Kerry.

While the re­stored stone prop­erty is to­tally charm­ing, it is the mag­nif­i­cently planted gar­dens which pro­vide most of the magic. “The gar­den is like a large pic­ture — it is de­signed to pro­vide colour and in­ter­est all year round,” says Dutch owner Peter Mar­tius, an artist who ‘painted’ al­most seven acres with the colours of hun­dreds of rhodo­den­drons, aza­leas, camel­lias and mag­no­lias, and the vary­ing shades of green pro­vided by dozens of dif­fer­ent tree spec­i­mens.

When Peter and his wife Roely bought the prop­erty in the 1993, it had been derelict for close to 50 years and the small hold­ing of 19 acres was wild and over­grown with gorse and bri­ars.

“There were al­most no trees on the site — the only thing left af­ter we cleared were a few holly trees and one big oak tree, ev­ery­thing else that is here now, we planted,” says Peter, ex­plain­ing that he and his wife spent a full year work­ing week­ends and evenings clear­ing the site be­fore this was pos­si­ble.

They saw po­ten­tial in the old cot­tage, which had been aban­doned by a bach­e­lor farmer who had em­i­grated to the US — but mostly in the fer­tile soils of the site which slopes down to Ken­mare Bay and is in­flu­enced by the warm­ing cur­rents of the Gulf Stream.

For the new own­ers, the spec­tac­u­lar views across the blue wa­ters of Ken­mare Bay over to the Beara penin­sula and the craggy peak of the Knock­a­tee Moun­tain, com­pleted the pic­ture.

Con­cen­trat­ing all their ef­forts on the site, they drew up a de­sign for a six or seven acre gar­den, pur­chased sub­stan­tial quan­ti­ties of plants from Mount Con­greve Gar­dens in Water­ford, and started plot­ting and plant­ing.

Stonewalls, path­ways, pa­tios, seat­ing ar­eas, a large gold­fish filled pond and bird­house set on top of a tree trunk are just some of the many fea­tures added. The star at­trac­tion is, how­ever, the mul­ti­tude of flow­er­ing shrub of­fer­ing all the colour of an artist’s pal­ette.

Peter es­ti­mates that there 60 or 65 spec­i­mens of rhodo­den­drons planted in groups of three and around 30 or 40 va­ri­eties of camel­lias planted in equal num­bers.

“We have planted to pro­vide all year round colour. There are

“There are camel­lias which bloom in Novem­ber, rhodo­den­drons that flow­ers at Christ­mas, and one called Po­lar Bear which has white flow­ers in Au­gust

camel­lias which bloom in Novem­ber, rhodo­den­drons that flow­ers at Christ­mas, and one called Po­lar Bear which has white flow­ers in Au­gust. Most are scented so that you can tell just from the fra­grance where you are in the gar­den.”

For view­ing this month, the gar­den has put on a tech­ni­colour dis­play in all shades of pink, red, pur­ple, as well as yel­low, white, and or­ange. Nu­mer­ous tall tree ferns pro­vide an ex­otic ef­fect while the many broadleaves will, ac­cord­ing to Peter, en­liven and en­rich the colour scheme as sum­mer pro­gresses.

It was three years af­ter Peter and Roely bought the prop­erty that they turned their at­ten­tion to the 1870s-built cot­tage. Hav­ing laboured long and hard on the gar­den while liv­ing nearby, they brought in an ar­chi­tect and a builder for the fi­nal stage.

En­sur­ing that it blended into the newly wooded land­scape, they kept it to­tally tra­di­tional with tim­ber beams and ex­posed stone. Ex­tend­ing it to 1,550 sq ft , they put on a bay win­dow from which they could look out on the bay and the gar­dens and also added a kitchen ex­ten­sion and a sec­ond bed­room.

Ac­com­mo­da­tion in­cludes a com­fort­able sit­ting room with a huge stone fire­place with tim­ber man­tle, waxed pine floor­ing, pine ceil­ing beams, Dutch fur­ni­ture and mag­nif­i­cent views from the bay win­dow. Also at ground level is a tiled kitchen/in­ing room with oak units with gran­ite work­tops as well as a shower room and a study. Fit­ted with a be­spoke pine stair­case, the stair­case has been turned into a li­brary with a full wall of book­shelves. Up­stairs, there’s a bath­room and two bed­rooms.

Modern comforts in­clude gas heat­ing and teak dou­ble glazed win­dowsandthe­p­rop­er­ty­hasac2 en­ergy rat­ing.

A half-door from the kitchen leads out to a pa­tio and on to a va­ri­ety of paths lead­ing to the gar­dens, which take an es­ti­mated 40 min­utes to get around. Be­tween six and seven acres have been turned into in­for­mal gar­dens while the re­main­ing 12 acres have been planted with trees and laid with paths. While the gar­den de­sign was fin­ished in the mid1990s, Peter says the plant­ing has been on­go­ing with spec­i­mens and cut­tings he has picked up dur­ing his trav­els. “A gar­den is a liv­ing thing — it is never fin­ished.”

In the be­gin­ning, the only an­i­mals found on the site were some sheep but Peter says that since the trees have grown, wildlife and birdlife have taken up res­i­dence.

“We have seen red squir­rels and we of­ten see the pinecones they leave af­ter eat­ing the seeds.”

Sell­ing points in ad­di­tion to glo­ri­ous gar­dens and stun­ning scenery — in­clude a Ring of Kerry lo­ca­tion, within 9km from Sneem and 15km from Ken­mare — as well as pri­vacy.

“You can’t see the cot­tage from the road and from the cot­tage, you can’t hear or see any­thing from the road,” says Peter, ex­plain­ing that ac­cess is via a 150 me­tre long drive­way planted with trees and camel­lias.

Seek­ing of­fers of €775,000, Elaine Daly of Sherry Fitzger­ald Daly de­scribes the gar­dens at Dereen­rickard Cot­tage as the most amaz­ing she’s ever been in. She says the charm­ing cot­tage and its won­der­ful gar­dens have al­ready been at­tract­ing for­eign in­ter­est. VER­DICT: A Dutch mas­ter­pieces

Tahilla, Co Kerry Price: €775,000

Size: 144sq m (1,550sq ft) Bed­rooms: 2 Bath­rooms: 2

BER: C2

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