Thursday, 14 October 2010


(Photos below from 12.10.10 - click to enlarge)

This week, I went back to the Arboretum and Garden of Fota House for the first time in decades. Both were transferred to state care in 1996 and are now in the care of the Office of Public Works in conjunction with the Irish Heritage Trust.

This is a world class visit and, amazingly, it is free to enter. This just can’t last so get there while you can. Must say though, if an entry fee here is applied, there should be no cribbing. Similar venues on the continent, many of them nowhere near the same class as Fota, charge around ten euro entry.

There are some splendid specimens here. The amateur like me can just look in awe but anybody interested in trees and plants will get so much more out of a visit. Quite a lot of the items are labelled and I came across a Lawson Cypress that was planted here in 1847 and a towering Japanese cedar, without a planting date, but which had reached 4.2 metre in diameter in 1966 and 4.5 by 1984.

It is a not a very long walk but there are quite a few paths that loop back into one another and magnificent vistas, including water, open out as you wander round. The odd time you will see a piece of sculpture or maybe you will glimpse the big house through the greenery.

Eventually, you come closer to the house. My first stop in this area was the Orangery where lemons and oranges (still green) were hanging from the glass walled and roofed enclosure.

Then it is on to the Pleasure Garden which encloses big borders and also a rose garden and one little buildings where you may sit and take it all in. The entrance is through an arched doorway where a fig tree grows.

Big displays of dahlias caught the eyes in the borders but they were just one of so many flowers and grasses. The roses, enclosed by sharply cut hedging, still looked good considering how late in the year it is.

“In the 1840's, John Smith-Barry showed considerable foresight in generously spacing the trees, enabling them to thrive as they do today with stunning seasonal displays of colour. The (Smith-Barry) family also recorded the plant collections throughout the 19th century and this important work of cataloguing, conservation and development continues today. Many of these plant collections are arranged in association with the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin, and other botanic institutions such as the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, Scotland.”

After the walk, you have the opportunity of visiting the house or taking a meal in cafe or both.
Fota arboretum and gardens Fota Island, Carrigtwohill, Cork    Tel: 021 481 5543 to follow....

Fig plant adorns entrance to Pleasure Garden
The Rose Garden (within the Pleasure Garden)
The Water Garden
The Water Garden
Lawson Cypress planted 1847, all the trunks from one root
View on exiting house from the east
Cordyline X scillionensis Tresco hybrid
In the border of walled garden
In the border of walled garden

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