There are times in life when it is not inappropriate to be boastful – well, at least, to express one’s pride in a very clear and positive manner. Such an occasion fell to me on Saturday morning last when I greeted a group of fellow IGPS members to the wonderful gardens of Mount Congreve in Waterford.
I was able to boast – very truthfully you must realise – that they were visiting one of the great gardens of the world; one created by one of the great gardeners of the world, Mr. Ambrose Congreve. The 70+ acres of woodland gardens are an incomparable achievement not to be seen anywhere else in the world. Here, the visitor can see Magnolia campbelli in their hundreds – something not to be seen anywhere else in the world – along with many hundreds of other magnolias. There are also 2,000+ different rhododendrons, several hundred different camellias and maples as well as innumerable individual specimens of the choicest trees one could imagine.
The gardens are only a few miles from my home and, through the kindness of those at the gardens, I have the enviable good fortune to be allowed visit whenever I wish and, so, can enjoy them in quieter moments and quieter months when the gardens are not open. Despite visiting the gardens for surely over thirty years I still find plants which I hadn’t noticed previously.
Of course, the very best way to walk the gardens is in the company of Michael White, the Curator at the gardens, and the person who has the deepest knowledge of the gardens and the strongest links with the creator of the gardens, Mr. Ambrose Congreve, as he worked hand in hand with him over many years. Michael’s knowledge of the gardens and its plants is simply encyclopedic. I often comment to friends that while I might be able to tell them the name of a particular rhododendron, for example, Michael would outline its parentage going back several generations and all the personalities associated with each step of its breeding. So, a walk with him on Saturday was a special treat and many of those in the group expressed their delight at the experience.
Some photographs of our group at Mount Congreve last Saturday:
The gardens are closing shortly for this season so hurry along to visit. Also, make a point of visiting early next year, as soon as the gardens open so as to see the expanse of Magnolia campbellii while they are in flower. This is a sight which cannot be seen anywhere else in the world.