Sunday, 3 June 2012

Visit to Knockpatrick gardens

Tim and Helen O' Brien
One of the reasons I have been so shoddy at blogging this week is because I have been running around like a blue arsed fly on garden trips and visits.

One of this weeks trips was to visit Helen and Tim in their lovely garden in Knockpatrick, which by the way is open this Monday (Tomorrow) from 2-6 to raise money for the new Cystic Fibrosis unit being built at the Regional Hospital in Limerick. Fingers crossed the weather clears up for them and they get a good turnout. If you can go to support this cause please do!!

Tim and Helen's garden is on three acres set on the side of Knockpatrick hill out the Foynes road, not far from Askeaton and Shanagolden. It was started by Tim's father over 80 years ago at a time when leisure gardening was the reserve of the wealthy and privileged. Tim's father was a farmer but he had a great love of plants, writing away to places as exotic as Dublin and London to obtain unusual and interesting trees, flowers and shrubs. Tim and Helen have built on his years of work to turn the garden into the beautiful place it is today.

beautiful walkway to knockpatrick hill
On this side of Limerick county the soil is neutral to acid meaning that the plants grown here in Knockpatrick are different to those you will find in many other parts of the county where the soil is clay and leaning towards alkalinity. They also have the advantage of being quite close to the Shannon estuary giving them a milder softer climate with less frost and cold. With this soil and in this warmer micro climate many plants thrive that would be miserable elsewhere. Tim and Helen's Garden has a huge collection of plants from warmer climates around the world including azalea's and rhododendrons, magnolias, candelabra primulas, poppies, bananas, tree ferns, and lots of rare specimens not found elsewhere in Ireland.

Maudie poses with a huge tree fern
What was most surprising to me was the difference in the garden from the last time I visited almost exactly a year ago. Tim commented himself on how certain plants had not flowered as well or in cases not at all this year speculating on cold being necessary in getting certain things to bloom.

Helen told us the story of Knockpatrick hill. Apparently the Clare people were mad to meet St. Patrick and invited him to visit but he was up the walls and met with some Oracle who told him not to worry, the Clare people would get their own saint soon. In the meantime he promised to bless the whole county if he could find a hill from which to see it. When he climbed to the top of Knockpatrick he blessed 5 counties that he could see. The ungrateful Kerry people weren't fussed, they had their own saint, "typical Kerry" said Helen, "they had to have one before everybody else"!!!

Etoile De Hollande
Rounding the huge Persian Ironwood tree (that is 80 years old!) perfume wafted down from a beautiful healthy rose that was throwing out it's first flush of blooms. Helen thought it was Etoile De Holland, the kind of rose you could drunk on and die happy! Roses in Knockpatrick are well fed, Tim has lots of manure from the home farm but he uses liquid feeds too. He buys liquid tomato feed in bulk every few years and advised us all to do the same-he reckons it saves them a fortune.

The sun came out as we broke for a cup of tea and some home-made cake with Tim and Helen kindly sitting us out on the deck next to a beautiful Wisteria and looking out over the Shannon. The only blight on the landscape was Aughinish factory spewing smoke and piling up waste from the processing operation.No mater where you live theres always some asshole living close by who makes things ugly. Yes I know they give people jobs-they give us pollution and uglyness too!

lovely feature
After tea we toured the lower gardens, including the lovely tree arboretum. Around each corner was something to like and appreciate. This year Tim and Helen have made and added some lovely oval wooden signs with lovely phrases at key points in the garden. It sounds like a small thing but its so effective.

This is a beautiful garden to wander around in. From the lovely lane way that leads up to the house, framed by mature trees, to the sloped terraced flower filled gardens around the house, the pretty woodland walk to knockpatrick hill, the tree arboretum, sunken urn garden,it keeps getting better and better. Here are a few pics for you to check out. If you get a chance to go you will see what I mean!


damsel in the border
terraced front gardens

sunken garden
in the arboretum

No comments:

Post a Comment