Monday, 25 June 2012

Blackhill farm garden party & Graduation

Last years gang celebrating their graduation
You have no idea of the prayers and offerings that were made in an attempt to get the sun to actually shine for Sundays garden party. Headless child's of Prague's were dusted off and stuck out, people put money in church collections, some of us even prayed to the earth, four winds, moon, and the Sun itself (or "great fire God in the heavens" if you want to address it correctly) in an attempt to at least guarantee dry weather if nothing else. In the end it certainly paid off. And we can all take credit for it-no matter which "God" delivered! After torrential showers the day before, Sunday dawned clear, bright and unbelievably sunny.By 1pm it was a balmy 19c!!!!

let the tasting begin!
Myself and Heather arrived just after 1pm when the stalls were half way through getting set up. Mary McGrath had brought all sorts of wonderful garden Nick nacks to sell, Jean a neighbour of Eileen's brought her range of gorgeously presented and displayed organic home made soaps, a wonderful German couple Jean and Hans brought home-made sausages and pork burgers (all gluten free yay!)and particularly delicious coffee. Rosemary was there with some delicious edibles and non edibles from her Sonas shop in Newcastle west and Aoibheann Hogan brought buns, tarts, breads and cakes.

Hans fed the masses
People arrived in dribs and drabs and we began garden tours as soon as we amassed any quantity of bodies.Rose was travelling down from Dublin so we refused to do the awards ceremony for last years horticulture graduates without her and this actually worked in our favour as people were happy to sit, chat and generally loiter around in the lovely sunshine.

Marie and Janine with a very chilled out Dog
 Neighbours came, friends came, gardening fanatics came and of course all the past and present students came. Eileen had a lovely musician hired to play in the background on the violin, Fiona and Mary took out crackers and samples of everything from elderflower cordial to cucumber relish to beetroot and orange chutney to rhubarb and ginger jam. Hungry customers flocked to the pork sausage and burger tent where word of mouth quickly spread about how delicious it all was so I think they ended up having a very good day!

Heather, Miriam and Sarah

 By 4.30pm Rose appeared like a vision before me, hallelujah! we could start the awards. I made my speech, Eimear made hers and we presented everyone with their certs. It was a lovely moment, doing it out in the open, under a blue sky and in the garden where so many of them had learnt so much exactly what I had been hoping for. Far better than a stuffy long winded affair indoors in wintertime!

Tom, Mary, Lady who's name I forgot-sorry! and Ron
After the ceremony we took out the beautifully made biscuits, scones and buns from Eileen's kitchen that this years students had made in honour of the occasion. Everyone was happily munching and congratulating each other as the evening wound down.

Jean and a young customer discuss lip balm
Eileen has been working towards this for months so I was thrilled for her that it all came together so beautifully yesterday. It was lovely for me to see three years worth of students talking to each other and making new friendships, (though not so much the banding together to collectively slag me off!).And I hope we get to make an annual event of this lovely party, so all my favourite gardeners are together in the same place at the same time.Next year we will be trying to make it even bigger and even better!

Chris Paudi and Roger, untied in slagging off their poor teacher...
A huge thank you is due to this years gang of students who took visitors and past pupils on tours around Eileen's garden which everyone really enjoyed. Mary J also brought beautiful home made bunting which added such a lovely touch to the festive party atmosphere. She may retire on bunting commissions after this! Maudie wheeled and dealed in the plant sales shed, giving people good bargains and selling off plants at the end of the day-she was born to sell-that's for sure!!! All of the lads brought beautiful cakes, scones, buns and biscuits as a treat for after the graduation ceremony, so everyone went home stuffed and happy.

Army of this years students who helped out in every way-thanks lads!


  1. What a day Marie, the gods smiled on us,many thanks to all the crew east and west and especially to YOU.

  2. Eileen we were bloody lucky!!!