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Iveagh Gardens, Dublin

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It was last month when I chose to visit the Iveagh Gardens just north of St Stephens Green.

On the whole, I like the Iveagh Gardens. I like the layout, the sunken lawn and the symetry of the main features.

But on this occasion I was a bit surprised with some elements of the grounds.

The Iveagh Gardens were originally given to University College Dublin by Lord Iveagh in 1908. The gardens are now under the remit of the OPW.

The waterfall was closed off, which is fine, but road cones and some other paraphernalia seemed to be strewn there and the rose area was closed off. These bits one can live with and are easily resolved. But when you see statues/ figures with parts removed and at the same time a brand new looking [and therefore slightly out of place] sculpt of John Mc Cormack one wonders mildly. No offence meant to the Mc Cormack people…. but I could think of more fitting places for such a sculpt. I suppose I may have thought that one would restore the more historic pieces before bringing in the brand new [?].

The main water features were also turned off, the lawns [acknowledgment of winter weather here] were in disrepair and the trees had a fair amount of suckering growth. Not a lot going on being quite honest.

On the plus side the park is one of the quieter ones in Dublin, which in recent times has become a little better known thanks to the comedy festivals that now take place there. And no harm. It is in summer months very much filled with the joys of spring [?!!] but on this occasion I was disappointed.

As I said, I really do like this park, overall and to simply escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre. It’s history is also quite amazing and well worth reading up on… that said if I was Lord Iveagh… I guess I’d be a little disappointed to see the missing and semi dismantled sculpts that dorn the parks peripherals.

On a slightly seperate note The Iveagh Gardens wiki page tells as lightly different story to that of heritage Ireland

The gardens in their present form were laid out in 1863 by Benjamin Guinness after he had built what is now Iveagh House on St. Stephen’s Green. Previously the land had been laid out as a private pleasure garden by “Copper-faced Jack”, Earl of Clonmell.

According to Heritage Ireland

The Iveagh Gardens are among the finest and least known of Dublin’s parks and gardens.  They were designed by Ninian Niven, in 1865, as an intermediate design between the ‘French Formal’ and the ‘English Landscape’ styles.  They demonstrated the artistic skills of the landscape Architect of the mid 19th century and display a unique collection of landscape features which include Rustic Grotto’s and Cascade, sunken formal panels of lawn with Fountain Centre Pieces, Wilderness, Woodlands, Maze, Rosarium, American Garden, Archery Grounds, Rockeries and Rooteries.

The conservation and restoration of the Gardens commenced in 1995 and to date most of the features have been restored, for example the Maze in Box hedging with a Sundial as a centrer piece.  The recently restored Cascade and exotic tree ferns all help to create a sense of wonder in the ‘Secret Garden’.  The pre 1860s rose varieties add an extra dimension to the Victorian Rosarium.

More images of the Iveagh Gardens on Pix.ie

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garden design bible [book]

tim newbury garden design book

bible... ?

I bought this book last year… and to be very honest…. it has sat on the shelf for most of that time. No offence Tim Newbury. Sincerely. That said, it only cost €17.55 [only?!!] in hughes and hughes and I suppose that should [again, sincerely] be taken into consideration.

But I’m still puzzled on this one. For me the only horticultural bible I know of is the RHS encyclopedia of plants and with that in mind, the truth is… this is far from ‘a bible’.

It is a good book possibly, for my Mom or one of my four sisters [who would not be gardeners of any format by the way]. It is I might propose a good guide when considering ideas for your garden…. a kind of  a ‘I was thinking of something along those lines…’ kind of a guide….?

But, you may be disappointed, if you were looking for lots of pictures. In its favour, the illustrations and the explanations are good – but then against that…. there are only ’40 great off the peg designs’ to chose from.

A good gift, a decent book [and a very useful one too for the novice, maybe…],  but not the greatest investment I personally have ever made.

PS: Dear Mr Hughes and Mr Hughes,

I did email you some weeks ago… but to no response. you might consider an educated and experienced horticulturalist to review your books before they hit the shelves…

my rating: 2/5

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rothe house and gardens, kilkenny

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I had given the Rothe House and gardens a mention before and I had noted it was on my to do list. And I did go. Sunday 25th October 2009.

I wanted to go on the Sunday morning/ afternoon, but unusual for me to assume different, on Sunday it only opens between 3-5pm. I also really [no offence] only wished to visit the gardens.

Their website describes it as an ‘early 17th century Irish urban garden’. But it was the front of one of their brochures that caught my eye….

Rothe Garden Kikenny. Your chance to ‘own’ a piece of a medieval garden

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I was very intrigued… I’ve visited, researched and been awarded for the design and build of a 17th Century Garden… so this was going to be some treat… ?

The South East Ireland gardens guide tells me that it is only €2 to see the gardens and €5 to see the house and gardens. I went to pay in. I was told €5 multiplied by two. I paid. Money [the amount of that is]  aside, if I had known in advace the ‘price structure’ I would have only paid in to see the gardens.

The question then is to the gardens themselves. Are they 17th century….? Are they medieval…? Honestly, not in my opinion. Or shall I rephrase yes there are fruit trees planted and yes there are vegetables growing. Was I impressed to the standard of…? Not really, being honest.

I am not trying to be disrespectful here. I’m not trying to knock the Rothe House trust who I must admit have done amazing work on the house and the displays within the building. It really does deserve applause and admiration. The work on the [re]construction of building internally and externally is superb.

But with regard to the gardens, if I was simply told that there are some gardens attached and it is €2 in to see them…. would I pay it and would I have any complaints…? Not one.

There are positives. I admire the fact that the brail signs are there; that one can have a tree planted in their or a loved ones name. That visitors were simply sitting and enjoying each others company is also a truly wonderful sight; it is very serene and there really are some nice pieces within… That said, the overall design leaves a lot to be considered. [Although] possibly a factor of funding, the gardens are also young and for them to mature and come into their own will take time. On a side note I should also add that the gardens are particularly well maintained.

The point of this weblog is not to be bold in my writing. But whether the entry is €2 or €200 the question is how honest in my appraisal should I be and more importantly would I recommend for you to visit the gardens…. ? Not really.

UPDATE: 15th Dec ’09 The Rothe House responds

there are more photographs here

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quinncentennial park, galway

quinncentennial park galway

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Did you ever want to give a County Council, in this case a parks department, whose wages I and you pay – a good kick up the bottom ?

Two parks in two days in Galway is what I set out to do. That’s what I did.

The other was Claude Toft Park. It shouldn’t really matter what two parks I chose to visit – in my honest opinion this parks department needs a radical reality check. If I maintained that park? It wouldn’t be in that state. Or…… I could be out of a job. The options ‘they’ should be given.

Before ‘anyone’ suggests the economic-hulabuloo ? The evidence, horticulturally, is that this neglect has been evident and growing worse for a long [in years] time. Secondly, I personally go to a park so I don’t have to hear about that sort of stuff.

I paid hard earned money to travel to Galway. I spent money when in Galway. If I was a tourist travelling from abroad – I would not return. And with tourism already down 20% – I am beginning to understand why that might be.

To the park – Whilst the outlay remembles a little bit more of what I would consider ‘a park’, once again – zero available information on the internet regarding this place also.

I wasn’t impressed. At first, my mood lightened when I saw a rock noting that it was ‘developed for the benefit of Galways senior citizens by Digital Equipment International B.V. 1984’. I then looked around. Not impressed. My spirits were lifted again when I came across the central water feature and a Mom with kids and dog playing there [the only people apart from me]. I saw a wee bridge. I then saw the now defunct water feature…What?!! Back to brutal.

I’m guessing in 1984 this park was an absolute stunner and the gesture by the company [I assume], in a 1984 Ireland, Saint-like. As an overview the layout is good and the road less travelled pathways and secluded seating places make it a nice place to spend time, possibly, I’m sure. But as of now the park needs attention. Urgently.

Once again – my second park in two days. And of all of the parks I have ever visited. These have to be two of the worst. These are peoples parks. NOT The County Councils.

Shame on you Galway City Coucil Parks Department. The same Galway City Council that wish to plough a road through Terrylands Peoples Forest?  And by the way, it’s the peoples forest.

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claude toft park, galway

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This has to be one of the most unusual ‘parks’ I have ever been to in my life. ‘An open area of ground with some facilities’, maybe.

On one side buildings, on the other the coastline  – in the middle, as if planning suggested all buildings be kept a minimum distance from the water – then later decided to call ‘that bit’ a park…. an almost landing strip was turned to lawn. Before I go any further – The Yuccas, phormiums and some other plants en mass did look well. Also I did see litter pickers out which was nice, but I only saw one litter bin.

I wasn’t impressed. There is little to zero information on the park courtesy of Galway City Council. Wikipedia for example tells me Claude Toft was a former Lord Mayor of Galway. The planting on the roadside/ walkways is of osmanthus [prickly] and cortaderia pampas grasses, a plant that could razor the hand of you. It is of course ground covered with pebble that overspills onto the ground and from my parks experience… pebbles and main roads don’t work so well.

The car park was poor; The play area [although commendable] looked very much the after-thought; The grey stone end nearer the city looked very out of place and contained only 3 picnic benches – but then when I loooked at it from the angle of the new buildings behind…. it fitted perfect?; The boundary between the residential areas was in parts like a dumping grounds – It simply wasn’t very well maintained at all and aesthetically poor. Put all of that together and then try and find any information on the internet? Not impressed. More than that children would find it extremely hard to kick a ball here – even if the grass was cut.

Shame on you Galway City Coucil Parks Department. The same Galway City Council that wish to plough a road through Terrylands Peoples Forest?  The peoples forest. The people think its a bad idea.

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