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.
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.
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?
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.