Archive for walled garden

Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden in Ireland

Posted in garden to visit, landscape design with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2019 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland

During our recent trip to Ireland, Michael and I visited Kylemore Abbey and its lovely and historic Victorian walled garden.  The abbey is located in the Connemara region in the northwest of Ireland, an area known for its scenic beauty as well as its retention of traditional Gaelic language and culture.  This was our favorite part of Ireland with majestic mountains, gorgeous beaches, Caribbean blue water, peat bogs, Norman outposts, ruined cottages, hidden lakes (or loughs as they are called there), free-roaming sheep, and best of all, very few people.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  We are open from approximately December 15 to June 15. The only plants that we ship are snowdrops to US customers only.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and cell number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

 

The abbey was carved into the side of the hills surrounding Lough Pollaacapull so that it could be perfectly reflected in the waters of the lake.  It was too windy the day we were there to capture the reflection!

Kylemore Abbey was built by Margaret and Mitchell Henry, a prominent London doctor of Irish descent.  When he inherited the family business in the late 1860s, he became one of the wealthiest men in Britain.  He bought what was then Kylemore Hunting Lodge and the surrounding 18,000 acres and built Kylemore Castle for his wife Margaret and their many children.  He gave up his medical practice and became a leading champion of the rights of the poor, representing Ireland as a Parliamentary MP in London. 

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Today the castle is owned by an order of Benedictine nuns originally from Ypres, Belgium.  The history of how they arrived at Kylemore, as presented in the abbey museum, is fascinating.  Due to the suppression of religious houses in England, Benedictine Houses were founded in Belgium, starting in 1598.  The current owners of Kylemore originated from a Benedictine House formed in 1665 in Ypres to provide a religious community for Irish women persecuted in Ireland.  The Ypres Abbey attracted the daughters of Irish nobility and enjoyed the patronage of many influential Irish families.  When Ypres Abbey was destroyed in the early days of World War One, the nuns sought refuge in England, and in 1920 were given Kylemore Castle as their new home.

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The view from Kylemore Abbey to Lough Pollaacapull and the surrounding hills is spectacular.

After they arrived at Kylemore, which then became an abbey instead of a castle, the nuns reopened their international boarding school and started a day school for local girls, which closed in 2010.  Today, the nuns make soap and delicious chocolate sold at the abbey gift shop and oversee the workings of the historic estate and gardens. The ground floor of Kylemore Abbey is a museum that preserves the furnishings of the Henry family, telling their story, and documenting the nuns flight from Ypres as well as the history of their school—it is well worth a visit. 

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The main gate of the Victorian walled garden at Kylemore Abbey.  The walls are made of brick and granite to absorb heat and shelter the garden from wind and frost as well as the sheep that roam freely all over the Connemara region.  The tricolor beds planted in stripes were a common Victorian garden feature called a ribbon bed.

The Kylemore Victorian walled garden, built at the same time as the castle, covers six acres and once contained 21 heated glass houses and employed 40 gardeners.  It was so advanced for its time that it was compared favorably to Kew Gardens in London.  However, over the years it declined so that by 1995 it was completely overgrown with brambles and trees and most of the glass houses were destroyed.  The Benedictine nuns began an extensive renovation that year based on historic photos from the 1870s as well as the structures and topography revealed when the encroaching plants were cleared.  The garden reopened in 2000, recapturing most of its former glory.  It is planted with exclusively Victorian plant varieties using Victorian garden designs.

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Apple and pear trees are espaliered inside the walls.

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The garden is in two parts divided by a mountain stream.  This photo shows the eastern half, which contains the formal flower garden, the glass houses, the tool shed, and the living quarters for the gardeners.

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The typical formality of a Victorian garden.

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a renovated glass house

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remains of some of the other glass houses

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fruit storage and potting shed

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The tool shed contains tools and other relics recovered during renovation.

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A window in the “bothy” where the garden laborers lived.  Employees at Kylemore Abbey were well paid during a time of desperate poverty in Ireland.

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The head gardener’s house was preserved and shows the respected position he held at the estate.

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The house is prominently positioned at the top of the garden, giving the head gardener a good view over the garden and its workers.  The inside of the house shows the privileged lifestyle of the head gardener’s family.

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The mountain stream, which divides the two halves of the garden.  The trees and plants surrounding it provide a shady retreat.

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I was particularly taken by this rodgersia along the stream.  I was unable to find out its exact name or species.

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The western half of the garden houses the vegetable garden, herbaceous border, fruit trees, a rockery, and herb garden

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the orchard

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the perennial garden

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rhubarb patch

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No matter what direction you look, the garden is surrounded by mountains.

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Next up a look at a few more interesting aspects of the Connemara region—peat bogs, invasive plants, sheep farming, and beaches.

Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name, location, and cell number (for back up contact use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.  Please indicate if you will be shopping at the nursery or are interested in mail order snowdrops only.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and only within the US.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a very active Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

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Tudor Walled Garden in Kilkenny Ireland

Posted in garden to visit, hellebores, landscape design with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2019 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

heritage2-e1464010072611-001 Tudor walled garden at Rothe House in Kilkenny, Ireland (courtesy of the Rothe House Museum website)

During our recent trip to Ireland, Michael and I visited the lovely and interesting town of Kilkenny, home to Ireland’s “Medieval Mile”.  We were especially interested in seeing the Rothe House Museum and Garden but very much enjoyed the whole town.  The Rothe House is actually three houses and three courtyards plus a large walled garden, all built between 1594 and 1610 by John Rothe Fitz Piers, a merchant, landowner, and Mayor of Kilkenny.  He and his wife Rose Archer and their 12 children lived there until John’s death in 1620 when his oldest son Peter took over the business and property.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  We are open from approximately December 15 to June 15. The only plants that we ship are snowdrops to US customers only.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and cell number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

 

Street view of the Rothe House (courtesy of Ireland Dept. of Environment, Heritage, and Local Government)

Between 2005 and 2007, the Kilkenny Archaeological Society, which owns the building complex, excavated the walled garden area, which runs from the back of the mansion on Parliament Street to the city wall.  The excavations exposed the original layout of the very large Tudor era garden, including its planting beds, paths, walls, and even the seeds and pollen of the 17th century plants.  Over 2,000 artifacts from the period were recovered.  Based on these discoveries, the garden has been meticulously restored using plants from the 17th century.

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The entrance to the Rothe House walled garden is through this archway from an inner courtyard.

This garden is very large for an urban, walled garden.  The lower garden near the house contains vegetables and herbs, while the upper garden is an orchard.  It was pouring rain the day we were there—the only day it rained while we were in Ireland—which made it difficult to take photos.  The weather was also not conducive to reading all the explanatory signs, which would have been very helpful when putting this post together.  Nevertheless, I think you will enjoy seeing the garden, and I hope you will visit it if you are ever in Ireland.

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Looking back over the vegetable and herb garden towards the house.

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Everything was very well maintained.

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borage and other edible and medicinal plants including artichokes at the back right

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As usual, I envy the delphiniums as it is too hot and humid to grow them in southeastern Pennsylvania.

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Another plant that grows much better in Ireland: Corsican hellebore.  We can grow it in PA, but the leaves, which unlike hybrid hellebores have the flowers at the end of their stalks, always get ruined over the winter and look awful when the flowers open.  I forgo the flowers, trim the plant to the ground, and enjoy the fresh leaves for the rest of the season.

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Michael, bundled up against the rain, gives some perspective on the mammoth size that Corsican hellebores attain in the mild Irish climate.

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Luckily, hybrid hellebores do beautifully in Pennsylvania and in Ireland.

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Lupines don’t grow in the Pennsylvania heat and humidity either but were beautiful all over Ireland.

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I have tried this Jacob’s ladder, Polemonium caeruleum, several times in my garden and see it for sale at many local nurseries in Pennsylvania.  Again, it is unsuited to our climate—now I know where it does grow well.  Luckily, native dwarf Jacob’s ladder, P. reptans, does beautifully in Pennsylvania.

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More delphinium envy!

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A lovely meadow like area between the lower and upper garden.

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Looking from the lower garden into the orchard

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the orchard

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Providing a home for orchard pollinators

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Next up a Victorian walled garden at Kylemore Abbey.

Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name, location, and cell number (for back up contact use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.  Please indicate if you will be shopping at the nursery or are interested in mail order snowdrops only.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and only within the US.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a very active Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

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