Altamont Gardens

There is an inclination to pay less attention to those gardens we visit most often; they become almost everyday and lack the surprises which might otherwise prompt one to finger the keyboard. However, when I consider that we have visited Altamont Gardens several times each year for the past forty years it would be remiss of me not to write about it on occasion. It has not been so much a case of familiarity breeding contempt as a taking for granted of a garden that has been part of our visiting routine for so long.

The iconic yew arch on the central garden axis at Altamont Gardens
A view to the house across the lake

When our children were young Altamont was a perfect location to bring them. It always had a hint of easiness about it. Bar the central axis of box hedging with rose borders and those large iconic yew uprights and arches, the gardens are informal and relaxed with copious space for young children to explore. They were always entertained by a walk around the lake and, of course, by crossing the bridges and watching the ducks, moorhens and coots which are semi-tame and remain undisturbed by passersby so the children could enjoy close views. There was also the great adventure of the Ice-Age Glen, a place of gushing water, enormous rocks and a feeling of wilderness which lead down to the banks of the River Slaney, an impressive flow and stretch of water, before ascending again via The 100 Steps – granite steps set into the slope – which simply had to be counted each and every time we walked them – and I counted them yesterday just to be sure nothing had changed over those years for there have been quibbles previously about the accuracy of the counting and even aspersions on occasions on the veracity of whoever named the steps…imagine that!

Around the garden and lake: Click to enlarge and view as a slideshow:

The gardens have gained a well-earned reputation over the years as a place for snowdrop enthusiasts to visit in February as there is a good collection of varieties growing there and Altamont Plants, which is located in the walled garden, always carries an excellent selection for sale as well as having a very choice range on display in the garden itself. Because of this we have visited very regularly in spring but Altamont is truly a garden for all seasons and a visit is always worthwhile – and we came home with a nice new camellia and a hosta from yesterday’s visit, somethin which always adds to the enjoyment of a day out.

And down the Ice-Age Glen: Click to enlarge and view as a slideshow:

We didn’t meet any of the gardeners yesterday as we would have wished to compliment them on the work in the garden. At our last visit we were told that extra gardeners had been appointed and the impact of those extra hands was very obvious as there had been a great deal of renovation, clearing, planting and general maintenance in the meantime. The Ice-Age Glen has been the scene of a great amount of work with large areas of unruly undergrowth cleared, something which has allowed the old plantings of daffodils, Narcissus pseudonarcissus, to see the light of day again and to bloom in profusion. It was something I enjoyed very much.

Narcissus pseudonarcissus
There is just a small planting of this very special and beautiful daffodil: Narcissus ‘The O’Mahony’

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