Fotos from Fota and Other Irish Gardens

Don't blame me, this is botanical humour from the National Botanic Gardens Glasnevin. Actually I think it's funny.

Before and during the 4th Global Botanic Gardens Congress I've been able to visit a few gardens in Ireland, all of them with large collections of species from around the world as well as a few local gems. Warning, botanical names and brief travelogue follows...

Muckross House, part of Killarney National Park, was built in 1843 and is now looked after by the local National Parks and Wildlife Service. It has plenty of interesting gardens and trees, including early Lawson Cypress, Rhododendrons and large Pinus radiata (which all might sound mundane in Australia but which looked good here in southern Ireland).

Nearby to the house are largely intact, very old forests, with Irish Strawberry Trees (Arbutus) dating back 1000 years. Also oaks (most oaks in Ireland are hybrids but only in these more natural areas do you get the pure species), Yews and lots of introduced Chinese plants -Rhododendron ponticum is a bad weed throughout southern Ireland but very pretty!

This is a tract of old more or less natural forest.

We stopped by the road on the way to Glengarriff and looked for wildflowers, finding Drosera and Pinguicula, also heaths, Sedum and a white orchid.

This picture is of the insect-eating Pinguicula in flower.

At Glengarriff we caught a ferry to Garinish Island (Ilnaculllin). This 15 hecatre island was bought and turned into a garden by Annan and Violet Bryce in 1910. They got Harold Peto to design the garden and brought in all the soil and plants, as well as water supply. The sheltered location and warmth from Gulf Stream means that a wider range of plants can be grown here than elsewhere in Ireland – including Huon Pine, Tree Ferns and lots of other plants from around the world. George Bernard Shaw spent time in the cottage writing in 1923. Other than the cottage there are the remains of a Martello Tower built after the 1796 French invasion. The landscape is Italianate with some 'Robinsonian' influences of the time.

Fota Aboretum and Garden is near the coastal town of Cobh (the place the Titanic last touched land before sinking). Fota homestead and garden was built in 1840s by the Smyth Barry family but like yesterday’s island, is now in State hands. There is an extensive collection of trees from around the world but also very pretty formal gardens.

Mount Congreve
on the River Suir in County Waterford is a 280 ha estate which has been in the Congreve family for three centuries. The current owner is 102 and when he dies it will come to the State – without money to run it I gather. About 14 horticultural staff are employed to look after the 32 ha formal gardens with huge collections of Rhododendron (3,500 species!), Magnolia, Camellia (650 named varieties) and Japanese Maples. Also a very pretty Peony border. Most of the Rhodos were finished but you got a sense of how spectacular it would be in spring.

Finally, the National Botanic Gardens at Glasnevin, in Dublin. This is where the congress is being held. It was established in 1795 by the Royal Dublin Society but not opened to the public until 1878 (i.e. well after the Botanic Gardens in Sydney was open to visitors, albeit the better class of people in Macquarie’s time). There are 17,000 species displayed, about the same as in our three botanic gardens. Lovely collections of conifers and local rare species, but also some quirky bits such as step Wittgenstein sat on.
This selection of photos (including one at top of post) is a bit obscure and most of the garden is drop dead gorgeous and...botanic gardeny...


Jim said…
A Stone _Lithops_! w00t! I want one! Can you slip it into a bag and bring it back home? :)