Archive for the ‘gardens’ Category

The Towers, Ballysaggartmore near Lismore

April 24, 2010
The towers at Ballysaggartmore

The towers at ballysaggartmore

What a magical hidden gem!  The towers at Ballysaggartmore near Lismore are in an amazing woodland situated on the main road between Ballyduff and Lismore.  Take the path to the left from the car park which winds up through the woodland to the towers.  You can walk around in a loop lasting no more than 15-20 minutes.  Both sides of the path are packed with dense shrubbery and mature trees.  There is a picnic area next to the river flowing under the tower bridge.

The towers were built in the mid 1800s by Arthur Kiely Ussher who had planned to build a grand house but this never happened.  All that now remain are imposing gothic ruins in a wonderful setting.

Ballyin Gardens, Lismore

April 24, 2010

Ballyin Gardens are located on the north bank of the river Blackwater just upstream from Lismore Castle.  These gardens are open to the public from 15th April until 30th June and are well worth a visit.  The gardens date from at least the early 18th century.  The lawns sweep down to the edge of the river and there is a fine selection of stunning mature trees, rhododendrons and azaleas.  One Monteray cedar has the largest girth of any tree in County Waterford.  Don’t miss these gardens if you are planning a visit to Lismore.

Ballyin Gardens

Ballyin Gardens, Lismore

Nymans Gardens

November 23, 2009

A visit to Nymans Gardens is a real treat!  Nymans is a National Trust property in stunning setting overlooking the Weald close to Haywards Heath.  Ludwig Messel purchased the 600 acre estate in 1890 and began planting shortly thereafter. His son Leonard succeeded him in 1915.  The house was substantially damaged by fire in 1947 but the gardens survived.  Leonard’s daughter Anne and her second husband, Michael Parsons 6th Earl of Rosse (of Birr Castle) partially rebuilt the house and lived there.  In 1953 Leonard died and left the gardens to the National Trust.

The gardens are laid out in a series of outdoor rooms packed with superb annuals, perennials and shrubbery.  Visitors can also wander around the house.  There are stunning views from the various walks throughout the gardens.

Nymans Gardens

Nymans Gardens

Nymans Annual Bed

Nymans

Nymans

A trail through Nymans

A visit to Sissinghurst Castle Gardens in Kent

July 5, 2009
Sissinghurst Castle Gardens

Sissinghurst Castle Gardens

Another garden gem, Sissinghurst Castle Gardens were created in the 1930s by the poet and novelist Vita Sackville West and her husband Harold Nicolson.  The National Trust now owns the estate.  This is a very popular destination and it was extremely busy during my visit last week.

There are ten separate gardens which are all very different.  If you climb up into the tower you get a superb view of the layout.  Enjoy some of the photos which I took during my visit.

An Herbaceous Border at Sissinghurst

An Herbaceous Border at Sissinghurst

Clematis at Sissinghurst

Clematis at Sissinghurst

Sissinghurst - The Moat

Sissinghurst - The Moat

Sissinghurst - A view from the tower

Sissinghurst - A view from the tower

Another view from the tower at Sissinghurst

Another view from the tower at Sissinghurst

Hever Castle in Kent

July 5, 2009
Hever Castle

Hever Castle

Hever Castle near Edenbridge in Kent is fascinating both because of its connection to Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII and also because of the amazing gardens that were created by William Waldorf Astor. The oldest part of the castle dates from 1270.  The Bullen family bought the castle in the early 1500s and it became the childhood home of Anne Boleyn.  Afterwards it passed to Anne of Cleves who was Henry VIII’s fourth wife.  It wasn’t until the early 1900s when the Astors who bought the house that the major restoration work commenced.  The Astors dealt in fur, pianos and property when they went to America and gradually became one of the wealthiest families in the country. William Waldorf who inherited his father’s wealth was responsible for creating the gardens and lake at Hever.

There is a rose garden, an Italian Garden, a lake, a yew maze and a water maze.  Amongst the exhibits in the castle is an hour book signed by Anne Boleyn and costumed figures of Henry VIII and his six wives.

Hever Castle Garden

Hever Castle Garden

Hever Castle Lake in the distance

Hever Castle Lake in the distance

Hever Castle Chess Board

Hever Castle Chess Board

Hever Castle Herbacious Border

Hever Castle Herbacious Border

Wakehurst Place near Ardingly

July 5, 2009
Wakehurst Place

Wakehurst Place

Wakehurst Place is another gem of a garden located in Ardingly near Haywards Heath It is often referred to as ‘Kew in the country’.  It was created by Gerald Loder who purchased the estate in 1903 and spent 33 years developing the gardens. The estate now belongs to the National Trust and is managed by Kew.  The Millenium Seed Bank project was opened at Wakehurst in 2000 and its aim is to assemble a collection of seeds from more than 10pct of the world’s flora.  You can actually see the scientists at work when you visit the building.  You could easily spend a few hours here roaming through the natural woodlands, down through valleys and past lakes, streams and rivers.  You will find a large number of water and bog plants.  When I visited in early July the irises were in full bloom and quite a sight to behold.

The Loder Valley nature reserve is well worth walking through.  In some parts it felt a bit like being in a tropical jungle particularly as it was extremely hot on the day of my visit.  Wander back through the Himalayan glade and enjoy the superb views from the top of the glade.  By all accounts Loder was fascinated with Rhododendrons and these must be an amazing sight in the spring.

Take a look inside the mansion as several of the rooms are open.

A view of the Garden at Wakehurst

A view of the Garden at Wakehurst

Himalayan Glade at Wakehurst

Himalayan Glade at Wakehurst

A lake at Wakehurst

A lake at Wakehurst

Wisley – A garden lovers dream

July 5, 2009
The New Glass House at Wisley

The New Glass House at Wisley

I had the good fortune to visit Wisley on 1st July.  Sprawling over 240 acres, it is just 30 minutes drive from Heathrow and an absolute ‘must go and see’ for garden lovers.  It surpassed all my expectations in what it had to offer.  Just make sure that you allot several hours for your visit.

The gardens encompasses everything from trials fields, a vegetable garden, fruit field, model gardens, wild gardens, walled gardens, lily ponds and arboretum and a recently opened glass house.  There are a number of excellent cafes and restaurants as well as a plant centre.

I was particularly interested in the perennial planting outside the new glass house.  The plants are cleverly grouped together and striking colours such as various types of hemerocallis, blue salvias, campanulas, heleniums, verbascums, geraniums, scabies and euphoria are all used in abundance.  I had no idea there were so many varieties of some of these plants.

Take a look at some of my photos to whet your appetite!

Wisley Annual Display

Wisley Annual Display

The Lilly Pond at Wisley

The Lilly Pond at Wisley

The Trial Garden at Wisley

The Trial Garden at Wisley

Cork Houses and Gardens Qualifying for Section 482

July 16, 2008

The following houses and gardens in County Cork have qualified under section 482.

Bantry House and Gardens

Blarney Castle and Rock Close

Blarney House and Gardens

Burton Park, Mallow

Carker House, Doneraile

Carraigbarre House, Bishop Street, Cork   (Student Accommodation and steep admission charge of euro 12)

Castlemartyr House, Castlemartyr

Creagh House, Doneraile.  Guest House so admission only to guests

Crosshaven House, Crosshaven

Drishane Castle and Gardens, Millstreet

Dunboy Castle, Castletownbere

Dun na Sead Castle, Baltimore

Garrettstown House, Garrettstown, Kinsale

Kilcascan Castle, Ballineen

Kilshannig House, Rathcormac

Riverstown House, Riverstown, Glanmire

St Fachna’s Cathedral, Rosscarbery

St Johns Priory, Youghal

Woodford Bourne Warehouse, Cork

Section 482 explained

July 16, 2008

This income tax offset applies to those who have been approved by the Revenue Commissioners under Section 482 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.

An individual who incurs expenditure on the repair, maintenace and restoration of an approved heritage building or garden can offset the expenditure against his income from all sources. Obviously, in order for this section to be attractive, you need income from elsewhere to be able to offset the expenditure.  Take Bantry House as an example, whatever expenditure is incurred in the house and gardens can be offset against any tax owing on monies earned from admissions, concerts, the cafe and whatever investments they may have elsewhere (the offset is not restricted to income from the house).  Michael O’Leary used to be the best example but I think he de-listed most likely because he didn’t want people wandering through his house.

In addition if repairs or maintainance are carried out to an approved object such as a picture, sculpture, book, manuscript, jewellery, installation of security, provision of public liability insurance,  up to euro 6,350 per year can be offset whereas there is no cap on the amount clawed back under the repair, maintenance and restoration of the building or garden itself.

The property has to be open to the public for not less than sixty days per year and forty of those have to run between May to September inclusive.  The access price has to be reasonable and access to a substantial part of the property must be given, ie not just one or two rooms.

There are slightly different rules for passive investors, ie for somebody who has taken an interest in the building from the original owner.  I am guessing that this applies to foreign owners, churches etc but I would need to clarify this.

A visit to Ballyogan House Bed and Breakfast in Graiguenamanagh

June 26, 2008

I had a day off from Kilbrogan House to visit some friends in Graiguenamanagh in County Carlow. I spent the night at Ballyogan House, a delightful Country House that offers Bed and Breakfast accommodation a couple of miles outside the town of Graiguenamanagh and just a short drive from Kilkenny. Fran and Robert have been running their guest accommodation for the past 8 years and are doing a brilliant job at it.

My room looked out on a beautiful garden with herbatious borders that were in full bloom. If you are a garden lover, you should definitely stay here. I loved my short visit and would highly recommend Ballyogan House to anybody planning to visit Kilkenny and the surrounding area. My room (The Bluebell Room) was extremely comfortable and breakfast was delicious – even eggs from the hens running around outside. Their website is http://www.ballyoganhouse.com.