The grounds of Bantry House, located in West Cork, were full of seasonal colour this past week. The foliage colour on the famous Wisterias, Cherry Blossoms, Gingkos, Maples and the whole woodland was just amazing. Bantry House is another great garden on the West Cork Garden Trail, and is a super day out. In addition to the gardens there is a wonderful Cafe and luxury accommodation offered
List to the podcast of when The SodShow met Brigitte Shelswell-White of Bantry House here
Parkland of Ballywalter Park
Recently I had a wonderful opportunity to visit the wonderful Ballywalter Park, located in the Ards Peninsula in County Down as a guest of Lord & Lady Dunleath.
Ballywalter park is an exceptional property, situated a short drive from the Mount Stewart Estate , the National Trusts flagship property in Northern Ireland.
The gardens and grounds extend for many fabulous acres (the total estate is c.1200acres), and its amazing to think that up until recently the sweeping lawns and parkland were being strangled by Rhododendron, Laurel and Griselinia - all having being removed by the energetic currently Lord & Lady Dunleath. This removal has opened up vistas and pieces of interest long since forgotten, with an amazing view from the entrance gate to the lovingly restored Conservatory.
Prior to the name change to Ballywalter Park, Springhill was the original name for the estate, and this can be evident in the amount of the surface water which could be seen during my visit, and this water has been used to create wonderful ponds and streams which were developed during the original landscape layout. (see this aerial pic from 1950)
Ballywalter Park is open during the European Heritage Open days, details can be found here , Virtual Tour of Ballywalter Park here, you will not be disappointed!!!! I spent a glorious 4 hours here walking and talking continually, and I could have spent 4 more...easily!
Castle Grove House in Letterkenny
Recently I spent a wonderful few hours exploring the near 300 acre estate which surround the Castle Grove Country House Hotel in Letterkenny. This site has been continually occupied since the Grove Family moved here in c.1695, the walled garden on the site dates from pre 1836, and since there are no brick walls, they are all made form local stone, it is more than likely pre 1820. Castle Grove benefits from a wonderful situation looking down on Lough Swilly and even in Winter the parkland and planting around the house was full of interest. Below enjoy a few pictures from my wee dander, but the best way to see for yourself is to pay a visit, explore the gardens and grounds and then enjoy a coffee in the Hotel.
Within the estate there are formal gardens, a sunken garden under restoration, the walled garden, woodland walks, parkland and famine walls. The architecture of the gardeners cottage, the Lodge, the Main House and the Land Agents House are well worth exploring. Mrs Sweeney who has been in ownership of CastleGrove since 1989 is full of historical information and stories and is a delightful host.
Now onto the walled garden which gently slopes South to Lough Swilly, this area is surrounded by completely intact 10' high walls, located in the walled garden is a commercial polytunnel, which supplies the Castle Grove Hotel restaurant with seasonal produce, also there is a sizeable amount of very mature fruit trees and bushes, a large area of new orchard planting, many raspberry canes and outdoor beds containing Rhubarb, Strawberries and Cabbages...
Around half the walled garden is covered in planted trees, mostly boradleaf, some conifer, which are relatively young and would be easily removed if space was required. Within the walled garden there are various buildings, including a delightful potting shed and the clearly visible footings of the greenhouse.
Located in the North end of Castle Grove walled garden is this delightful single storey Gardeners Potting Shed, on the back of this potting shed there was a sizeable South Facing Greenhouse, which was connected to the building at the side of the potting shed via a short walkway.
In a historical inventory of CastleGrove this building is described as a 'Bothy' (a place where unmarried farmworkers or gardeners would have lived), so the potting shed probably developed at a later date.
As mentioned above there is areas of the walled garden under cultivation for the restaurant, some can be seen in this picture. However was delights me in the pathway, this is one of the original path within the walled garden, and there is a good network of paths which would make a delightful walk through this heritage space...
For more information on Castle Groves gardens, landscape and the Castle Grove Country House Hotel, then please visit the Castle Grove Country House Hotel website.
Gothic Arch Folly in Belvedere House
The Gothic Arch Folly in Belvedere House is quite a structure, built as an art piece to be viewed upon from vantage points in the big house c.1760, and not as you would initially think - that it was ruins of some medieval castle.
"In Georgian times the inclusion of such follies as part of the overall improvements to the landscape were to provide subjects for melancholic contemplation of the triumph of civilisation over barbarity" - Belvedere House website
For more pics from me recent trip to Belvedere see here
For more information on the Gothic Arch Folly, see this piece on the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage Gothic Arch Folly in Belvedere
Wee dander around Wells House
Recently I enjoyed a wonderful trip to Well House in Gorey, the owners are embarking on a spectacular reinstatement of the Daniel Robertson designed landscape which would have surrounded Wells House c 1830-1850. Over the past few years I've been visiting a number of properties associated with Robert Adam (Newliston, Hopetoun, Culzean etc) and its reported that Daniel Robertson worked with Robert Adam early in his career. In Ireland Daniel Robertson designed many heritage properties and landscapes, most notably Powerscourt. The Dictionary of Irish Architects has a substantial list of key properties Daniel worked on.
The landscape at Wells House is in different parts of re-instatement, some areas such as the Daniel Robertson Terraced Gardens are in an advanced stage, with substantial planting and path work having taken place, the drive and passion of Sabine Rosler (owner) to reinstate the landscape is infectious, and with confidence and surety Sabine talks through the works on-going with such ease that you know the next time you visit it'll be ever more impressive!
Aswell as the restored landscape the outbuildings associated with Wells House have been converted into wonderful shops, in an area called the Craft Courtyard, which leads onto the Animal Farm - an area full of petting animals and kids fun!
The Daniel Robertson Designed landscape could be argued is part of the recent history of Wells House, indeed a house has been on the site since the later 1600's, and as such there are some wonderful trees on the site, some form part of the Parkland at the front of the property, and some are part of the Arboretum which is under restoration.
The Lady Frances Woodland Walk is just one of the trails you can take to explore the gardens of Wells House, although my visit was in Autumn, Sabine showed me some wonderful pictures of the Bluebells, Foxgloves and Daffodil sways around the woodlands and gardens...And if your a big kid at heart you'l love the Gruffalo features, the fairy doors, the woodland sculptures and the wishing well makes a lovely feature.
Thanks to Sabine and Uli Rosler for a wonderful tour (and thanks to Uli for a wonderful chat about Biodynamic Farming). and if your planning on visiting I whole heartedly recommend the House Special Burger in Mrs Stone's Tea Room, the sauce that comes with it was just wonderful! For a venue only in its second year the Horticulture on show in Wells House is stunning, and it'll only get better over the next few years with the reinstatement of the Fountain Planting, the pool being reinstated, the front roundabout being reinstated, more planting around the outside dining areas and much much more! Pictures like this can only at best give a flavour of what you can see, its hard to convey the scale and size of the gardens in writing, the best way to get the full impact is to visit Wells House and Gardens in Gorey, County Wexford. Connect with Wells House on Facebook and Wells House on Twitter.
Gardening on Radio Foyle
A summary of each weeks gardening on Mark Patterson Show and beyond