TOP GARDEN TIPS FROM ASHFORD’S EXPERT TEAM
Ihave often wondered about Ashford Castle, and its gardens, which seemed relatively near on this small island… but also so remote and unobtainable for us ordinary folk. The formal lawn terraces, parkland and lake seemed too idyllic to really exist.
Recently I got to visit and savour its very real delights — walking through the grounds that would soon be filled by international glitterati at the wedding of golf star Rory McIlroy and Erica Stoll.
The first thing that strikes you is the utterly magical setting. The castle stands majestically on the edge of Lough Corrib, mirrored in the water and framed by greenery. I can understand how the location has captivated Guinnesses, princes and celebrities. Every view is special — from the approach across a picturesque bridge, past the moored Isle of Inisfree boat, which takes visitors on tours that glimpse the lake’s famed 365 islands, one for every day of the year.
There’s been a castle here since the 13th century, originally a Norman tower built by the De Burgos. In the 1800s, the Guinness family set about creating a Gothic-inspired castle and gardens on a 22,000-acre plot.
The gardens as they exist today were laid out around 1868 by Lady Ardilaun, formerly of Bantry House. Togetherher with her husband, Arthur Guinness, in the 1880s she employed Andrew Campbell as head gardener. They laid out the bones of the garden, which remain the basis of the structure we still enjoy today: garden terraces, walks and the gorgeous walled garden. A visit to the gardens is all Mow grass at least once
a week in the growing about walking, drinking in the sea-sonand, if you
wish for a pristine look, views, stopping to marvel at t week. up to twice a However, never remove
more than one third of features, gazing at the majesty the grass height in a single
mowing. Trim the edges of the trees and discovering thee with every mowing to keep
lawn looking sharp. next surprise. Healthy soil leads to happy,
healthy plant life. Feed The primary tree species on your soil as well as your plants/
lawns by using organic the estate and in the wood- or organic-based fertiliser/
feed to encourage soil lands include Sitka and Norway y microbes and worms. spruces, Scots pine, silver fir, , For shrubs or hedges, it
is good to thin out 20pc American redwoods, oak, beech, , older growth to of
a few inches inside the lime and ash. The Long Terrace e annually, clipped line
to allow in air and to generate and Broad Walks showcasee from new growth further back on the branch
structure. wonderful sequoias. They’re a Don’t let weeds produce
seed and propagate magnificent collection — I was s an-othergeneration
of weeds. As the saying told that one recent US visitor year’s goes, “One
seeding is nine years’ weeding.” commented that they were Apply mulch in the dormant
season to help control “better than the sequoias back k weeds, retain moisture
and improve soils, as well home in California!”. visually benefit as
your planting. My favourite part is the Take pictures of your garden
throughout the year. walled garden. You enter rather r This allows you to look back
and see where you can magically through a curving bring colour or interest to
areas that may be missing stone service tunnel (created, something at certain times. it seems, to obscure the garSow green manure seeds
on any veg or bedding deners from the view of promareas that are to be empty
for a period of time. This enading visitors). It’s a beauty helps weed control and
improves your soil. — more intimate and relatable Enjoy your garden and your
gardening. Do not be than many other walled garafraid to try new ideas and
indulge your passion for dens, and now planted with whichever area of gardening
you most enjoy. fruit, vegetables, herbaceous IRISH INDEPENDENT
- gone beyond their maturity, so a big treecare operation was undertaken. Features such as the Sunken Garden and adjacent section of the Terraced Walk were replanted with a beautiful selection of flowering trees, shrubs and some perennials.
And you don’t have to be Rory, Erica or one of their wedding guests to enjoy the experience. While the castle itself does remain the preserve of hotel guests, the gardens and the estate’s 350 acres of countryside are open to the public to enjoy. Entrance to Ashford Castle estate costs €10 for adults, which includes coffee at Mrs Tea’s Boutique and Bakery. See ashfordcastle.com