Now that’s what I call … a garden

Yesterday the sun shone and I did something I should have done a long time ago. No I didn’t wash the curtains! I headed south to the west of Waterford and visited Mount Congreve. How I have been in Ireland for two years and not been there I cannot explain, except that until the garden’s creator, Ambrose Congreve, died, the garden was not open much and now you can visit from Thursday to Sunday each week. The garden is the work of one man (and his brilliant team) who was able to indulge himself fully in making the garden of his dreams. He planted rare trees and shrubs in vast numbers on a huge site but it is not just a collection of plants but a beautiful landscape garden. I will not give a guide here – there is too much to say. Instead you can click the link at the bottom of the page to a pdf from the official website. I will say little more. Here are just a few random photos from my visit. Most plants are not captioned. A few plants in the garden are named but not many and I am no rhodo expert.

The house is a bit stark but very grand. The other side is a bit more ornate but still a bit grand and brutal

The house is a bit stark but very grand. The other side is a bit more ornate but still a bit grand and brutal

After criticism of my views of the gardens I have visited I said I would not comment about gardens I visit unless they were so good that I could say only good things. Well the main path round the gardens here is 2.5km and there are dozens or hundreds of other paths that link these and I spent three hours flitting about like a bee. I was about an hour into the visit when I realised that there were not hundreds of magnolias between the trees – the magnolias WERE the trees. There are hundreds and hundreds! Every turn opens a new view and another mass of rhodos, camellias or magnolias. Look up and there are huge white or pink goblets. Look down and the grass is dotted with fritillarias or the fallen flowers of a 10m high red rhododendron. This garden is a wonder and worth every effort to visit. I suppose it is at its peak from March to May (the rhodos have not peaked yet) though the masses of astilbes and hydrangeas will keep the colour going all summer into autumn.

Imagine how this will look when they are fully open!

Imagine how this will look when they are fully open!

mount congreve8

Looking up at huge blue rhododendrons

Looking up at huge blue rhododendrons

mount congreve18

Looking out through cherry blossom

Looking out through cherry blossom

A purple-stained Magnolia denudata - the half open flowers always remind me of light bulbs

A purple-stained Magnolia denudata – the half open flowers always remind me of light bulbs

White, starry flowers almost smothering the grass. And it is Ipheion! OMG!

White, starry flowers almost smothering the grass. And it is Ipheion! OMG!

In one of the walled gardens there is a pair of beds edged with nepeta and FILLED with peonies. I want see these in bloom!

In one of the walled gardens there is a pair of beds edged with nepeta and FILLED with peonies. I want see these in bloom!

The gardeners house in one of the walled gardens

The gardeners house in one of the walled gardens

In the other walled garden is this wonderful greenhouse range - that needs a bit of work.

In the other walled garden is this wonderful greenhouse range – that needs a bit of work.

WOW

WOW

At the far end of the garden is a sloping walk, lined with what must be a hundred what look like Magnolia soulangeana cvs with a view over the River Suir

At the far end of the garden is a sloping walk, lined with what must be a hundred what look like Magnolia soulangeana cvs with a view over the River Suir

There are 100s of camellias but I love the formal doubles best

There are 100s of camellias but I love the formal doubles best

A Chinese 'bridge' gives a view down to a pagoda in the old quarry...

A Chinese ‘bridge’ gives a view down to a pagoda in the old quarry…

And a view of the rest of the garden through a window lined with neatly trained chaenomeles

And a view of the rest of the garden through a window lined with neatly trained chaenomeles

I was a bit early for the deciduous azaleas but some had just started

I was a bit early for the deciduous azaleas but some had just started

Some of the recent planting

Some of the recent planting

The flowers of stachyurus were just hanging on

The flowers of stachyurus were just hanging on

The temple is another focus of attention

The temple is another focus of attention

Trachycarpus gives a weird contrast to the soft, rounded outlines of the rhodos

Trachycarpus gives a weird contrast to the soft, rounded outlines of the rhodos

It i not just about the plants - look up and look down for details

It is not just about the plants – look up and look down for details

The waterfall was not running when I was there but the still water reflected the marsh marigolds

The waterfall was not running when I was there but the still water reflected the marsh marigolds

Admission is €5 and it is the best €5 I have ever spent. The cafe is a bit basic but I think the OPW (Office of Public Works) is going to improve that. To their great credit the garden looks wondeful despite the felling of many trees by storms in recent years and I am delighted to say there are lots of new plantings. I am sure lots of those that knew the garden years ago will find much at fault with the present conditon – maybe not – but judging by what I saw today the garden seems in good hands – it certainly does not look neglected. Being ‘given’ a garden of such international importance carries a lot of risk and responsibility. So far so good! Get there NOW.

BUT THE BEST BIT WAS STILL TO COME.

WHAT WAS THAT IN THE DISTANCE?

TUFTY!*

What a surprise!

What a surprise!

mount congreve33 badge2 You need to be of a certain age to know what I mean and then you were probably in the Tufty Club too.   http://www.rospa.com/about/history/tufty/     For more on the garden visit this link http://www.mountcongreve.com/images/uploads/docs/mount_congreve_complete_guide.pdf

I had to restrict myself with these photos but I will post more from my trip next Sunday with fewer views and more flowers.

, ,

6 Comments on “Now that’s what I call … a garden”

  1. joy
    April 19, 2015 at 7:45 am #

    the best garden ever thank you for showing us . I have my dads tuftyclub badge and membership

    • thebikinggardener
      April 19, 2015 at 8:42 am #

      Thank you. I guess mine got thrown out. Was great to see Tufty! Have a lovely day 🙂

  2. sueturner31
    April 19, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

    That was epic..a kaleidoscope of colour..stunning …and yes I do remember the Tufty Club…and the road safety adverts on the telly. 🙂

    • thebikinggardener
      April 19, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

      thank you – I may post a few more photos later in the week. Yes, you have reminded me

    • thebikinggardener
      April 19, 2015 at 7:36 pm #

      Yes you have reminded me of the road safety films. Ah – those were the days – so innocent!

  3. Maria F.
    April 19, 2015 at 11:12 pm #

    Beautiful, thanks for sharing.

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