August Altamont

Altamont Gardens in Co. Carlow have always primarily been a spring garden. Mrs. Corona North and her family before her were especially interested in rhododendrons and grew and planted many which they had propagated from the first plant collectors gatherings. However, today is the last Sunday of August and in the spirit of end of summer and back to school we headed off for a day out. Now, let me clarify that our back to school days are well gone though it still gets mention as our two eldest sons are school teachers while our youngest will be back to college shortly.

The main walk at Altamont with its iconic yew arches and box hedges backed by roses. 
The lake always attracts visitors and looks well at all times of the year. 
The quiet walk at the other side of the lake. 

Altamont is still primarily a spring garden and I could see that the gardens had suffered, as our own, from an extended dry spell this summer with many herbaceous plants already gone into end-of-season decline. Nonetheless, a visit to Altamont is always pleasant and, while there is not a great amount of plant interest at the moment it is always relaxing and enjoyable to walk around the gardens, around the lake and through the glen to the banks of the River Barrow.

Roses from the main border

The double herbaceous borders in the walled garden were equally tired except for one section where roses, dahlias and alstromerias gave a wonderful display.

A section of the double herbaceous borders in the walled gardens. 
Roses, dahlias and alstromeria giving great colour at present 

No visit to Altamont would be complete without a visit to Robert Millar’s Altamont Plants where there is always an outstanding selection of treasures available. Fuchsias and hydrangeas particularly caught my eye today with Fuchsia ‘Mrs. Boothby’ and Hydrangea paniculata ‘Phantom’ the most desirable. However, my eye was caught by a bargain and I bought five hollies, Ilex ‘Golden King’, as I wish to remove three now oversized “miniature” conifers and continue a holly hedge which was beside them. The hollies were shoulder high and well branched and at only €8 each I could not pass them by. The hydrangea will have to wait for another day though I will be able to get cuttings from a friend.

A selection from the herbaceous borders in the walled garden

It was wonderful to see how many people were enjoying the garden today and also to see that many more people are being attracted by the various activities being organised in the walled garden – there were talks and demonstrations on apple cultivation on two days recently and another for artists in the garden.

We will be back to Altamont in the spring when it is at its best and especially look forward to the annual Snowdrop Week.

Paddy Tobin

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