The Carlow Garden Festival goes from strength to strength with each year and attracts large attendances for all its events. Some attract big numbers because of their high profile but each event has its attraction and I attended two very enjoyable events, the first at Altamont Gardens in the morning and the second at Hardymount House in the afternoon and both were excellent.
Neil Porteous has been head gardener at Mount Stewart in Northern Ireland for several years and now also acts as garden consultant for the Office of Public Work here in the Irish Republic. Altamont Gardens was left to the state by the late Mrs. Corona North and it is, in my opinion, an example of the very best practice in the manner in which the spirit and style of its creator have been maintained by the head gardener, Paul Cutler, and his team of gardeners.
Above: Some views of the garden and of today’s event at Altamont Gardens
Neil recalled the history of the garden, the contribution of Corona North and of her father, and brought us around the garden pointing out plants of particular interest and outlining their cultural requirements and best gardening practice in growing them. Above all, this was a “walk and talk” with a practicing and experienced gardener, one who obviously loves his plants and enjoys growing them.
After a light lunch, we went on to Hardymount Gardens – unfortunately, without the late Mrs. Reeves-Smyth this year but with the good news that her daughter and son-in-law had recently moved into the house so that its future and that of the gardens are in good hands. The speaker was Steven Desmond – and the name rang a bell with me but I didn’t make the connection until I was there. Steven is the author of an excellent book, “Gardens of the Italian Lakes”, a book I enjoyed thoroughly and which I found very helpful when planning holidays in the area.
The title of his talk was, “Elegance and Repose: The Garden Seat through the Ages” which, as he so self-effacingly pointed out, was not the most promising of titles but one which he delighted in and on which he could talk for ages. Not only could he talk for ages but he could inform and entertain in equal measure. It was an outstanding talk.
Some views around Hardymount Gardens today
So, a very good day out – not even mentioning the friends met, the chats and the catching up, all part of the enjoyment of gardening.