Certainly in winter – and winter has continued far too long this year – my first reaction on stepping out of the car at Altamont Garden is to grumble. Now there are some who would say I grumble whenever I visit a garden but this is inaccurate for it implies that I grumble only in gardens while the truth is that I grumble all the time.
However, I have a particular and repeated grumble for Altamont in winter – it is cold! It is always cold there, I imagine. I recall grumbling one day to Paul Cutler, the head gardener at Altamont, about the overnight temperatures we had had in Waterford the previous night only to be told it had been ten degrees colder at Altamont. From that day onward I felt justified in my grumbles and now grumble with gusto.
Despite the cold and this long dragging on winter a visit to Altamont is always a pleasure. I especially like it at snowdrop time and the Snowdrop Week and the companion Snowdrop Gala have become highlight events in the Irish horticultural calendar. Indeed, Carlow Tourism has been very active in promoting gardening events in the county and the annual Carlow Garden Festival is the premier festival in the country with many events taking place in the gardens at Altamont and also in the Walled Garden. These are highlight times but the gardens are a pleasure at any time of the year.
Today, daffodils were the feature plant of the garden with large drifts under the beech trees on the entrance avenue, under the beech in the Nun’s Walk, in front of the house under the weeping ash and scattered casually and naturally throughout The Glen so the grey skies and the cold atmosphere were forgotten and it was a wonderful day.
A selection of hellebores in flowers in The Walled Garden