Recent Donegal Daily Gardening Feature on Growing Spuds for Christmas and the Gardens around Beech Hill Hotel
As part of their Level 5 Major Award in Horticulture myself and the students from Donegal ETB & National Learning Network visited the Skipton Estate in County Derry, now called the Beech Hill, and home to the multi award winning Beech Hill Country House Hotel
Recently the Donegal ETB Level 5 Horticulture students were treated to a tour of the walled kitchen garden of the multi award winning BeechHill Country House Hotel by Head Gardener Robert Peaker. Robert afforded us some of his precious time to showcase the selection of herbs, veg and fruit he has under cultivation in the garden and discuss some of the methods he utilises to maintain soil health and the fertility of the garden.
Some fabulous snowdrops decorate the ground below the lime tree avenue in the BeechHill Hotel outside Derry City
Myself and the 2 kids had a great time exploring the grounds on Sunday morning, the kids were well kitted up for the weather and enjoyed the stream and all the gardens....hopefully you'll get a chance to enjoy the snowdrops there too
I'm a regular around the gardens and grounds of the BeechHill Hotel, see more here
The BeechHill hotel was the latest venue for the search for Derrys Oldest Oak Tree....I was joined by the guys from Maybrook Adult Training Centre...and we found a whopper...a seriously big oak which measured 630cm around....now this is the second biggest we've found so far, the 665cm oak in Ardmore House leads the charts so far...
I just love this, both sides of the entranceway into the BeechHill Hotel have this Aubretia growing out of the walls, so cool and really pretty looking.
Aubretia is a member of the cabbage family, so it likes to grow wheer the soil is limey and free draining, so cracks in old walls are an ideal habitat for it. Check it out the next time you're passing by
See more pics from the grounds of BeechHill here
and if you fancy some for your own garden see here
Last sunday saw the second of our snowdrop walks take place in the BeechHill House - (see here for the original post).
It was cold, but it was dry, and we had a lovely walk aroudn the path network that was installed last year (see here for our autumn walk), the joy of an old woodland like whats found in the BeechHill is that it changes every few months, now its the time for the Snowdrops and then it'll be bluebells and Rhododendrons....so always worth stopping in every few months for a dander
The path network in the BeechHill is 4km of nice level pathways, we followed the blue trail, which bring us around 30 acres of woodland. During our walk we were lucky enough to see the snowdrops just starting to 'bud up'.
So if your looking for a wee dander then a great place to head for is the BeechHill.....
20th January sees our second planned Snowdrop walk of the year, this time to BeechHill Hotel in Ardmore.
From 2-4pm there will be a woodland walk through the grounds of BeechHill unearthing the glorious snowdrop drifts which exist there.
This event is open to all , the joy of the BeechHill is that with the new path networks this is especially good for buggies and the likes.
Woodland walk with snowdrop focus
Cost £4 per family suggested donation for charity
Please leave a comment below if you fancy it...
Sunday 7th October saw our latest gardeners outing take in BeechHill House Hotel in Ardmore, Co Derry. This fabulous place dates from the mid 1700 and has been in constant use ever since, modern day its a multi-award winning country house hotel, previously it was private home, a ww2 Marine base and before a proper gentlemans abode...we tried to sample all of these on our fascinating tour of the grounds...and boy were we blessed with the perfect weather!!
Head Chef Barry leading the harvest of salads
Our tour started in the 2 acre Walled Garden, an areas which has been transformed in the past 12 months under the guidance of Olli Smyth (BeechHill Kitchen Garden guru), Olli chatted to th egroup about the work undertaken, what the future holds and offered great advise on growing tasty produce...and there can be no better business card for freshness than Head Chef Barry leading a harvest just as our tour was on....Field 2 Fork in less than a 2 min stroll....
Gerry starting the ww2 history...
After the walledgarden, Gerry Temple took over the tour, covering the recent ww2 history of the site, highlighting the re-use of some US materials, locations of some of the 400+ outbuilds and lots more....He kept the history short and to the point, just how we all like it. To think 5000 Marines were based here was amazing...must have been a right hub of activity.
nice ripe elderberries
the grounds are littered with free foods...here we're collecting some Elderberries for a wee snack as we go....
ancient steps in the garden
The grounds of the BeechHill are fabulous, and offer a multitude of small walks, photo opps and more. Its a wonderful place, we take the kids there a lot as its a nice hour walk around the grounds and there is the option of using the hotel for a coffee or lunch stop before we head home....
Donations from the tour went to Foyle Hospice , we raised nearly £90 in donations....thanks to all who chucked a few quid in the pot, thanks to Patsy O'Kane from the BeechHill for the warm welcome to the group, thanks to Olli Smyth and Gerry Temple for giving up there Sunday morning for us.
Wild blueberries are in season now....super wee bubbles of tasty, vitamin C rich goodies....yum yum!! Found on poor acidic soils these wild blueberries are common around co derry and donegal....some folks called them billberries some folks call them fraughan berries...i'll stick to calling them wild blueberries.... So we under local information we headed up to a top secret location up in ardmore, county derry....(spot Altnagelvin Hospital in the picture)
and this is what we're looking for....lovely plumb blueberries, high up on the acidic hillside in ardmore....lovely jubbly, this place is a real hot-spot....a good mass of berries is within easy picking....
you can see the coating of pink flowering calluna heather which covers this area too, and the blueberries grow inbetween the clumps of heather. I was joined by Barry Obrien ( @barrypobrien1 ), Head chef at Beech Hill Hotel, on the foraging mission, also joining me was Gerry Temple and my eldest Connie....Barry looks right at home here in the pic....in the background Derry City and the hills of Donegal...gives you an idea on how high up we were...
after an hour and a half of picking this is our bounty....a good bucket of super ripe ardmore wild blueberries and a box of wild sorrell (handily stumbled along too).....thats the joys of foraging...sometimes you find wee extras as you go along....
Was thinking of making this a monthly type event....a monthly forage trip....anyone fancy it?
Gardening on Radio Foyle
A summary of each weeks gardening on Mark Patterson Show and beyond