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the war memorial park

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I don’t think I’ve been to this park since I was about 18 years old. For no apparent reason. [It is where I was once employed.] But it has to be said, if there is a park comparable to poetry…. This *is* it! I’ve missed it…

The history, the story, the layout, in it’s entirety… I love it. Not as many know about it. Maybe because it’s only across the road from the ‘more popular’ Phoenix Park – but for me – this is the ultimate.

Built to commemorate the 49,000 Irish men who lost their lives in the 1914-1918 Great War. This was in one way employment for those who returned home and was built [to the best of my knowledge] entirely by the hand. Designed by Edwin Lutyens – even his name may suggest you might be bored by that ‘ye olde stylee symetrical garden crapola‘. Not on your nelly! For its symbolism – the roses tiered to that of a coloseum; the four book rooms representing the four provinces; the walkway in the shape of a horseshoe as it was one horse power built and the central garden to replicating the alter of a church – it even includes two massive water features as the candles…. the list goes on.

Outside of that, the park is relaxing & very well maintained. There are places near the water to sit and watch; places within the rose and herbaceous plants to ponder and versus that open areas enough to cycle, run, picnic or just lie down and look up at the dappled shadow created by the very many mature trees around the grounds.

Visit it, love it, take your time and enjoy.

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newbridge demesne

hmmm 😉 there you are Ray… Apart from that, there is absolutely nothing I dislike about the park named Newbridge House nee Newbridge Demense, as it is far more than that.

It is a true gem and I love it so very much. It contains the formal and the informal. It contains the grand house and the relevant farmyard, yet – it also has the most amazing childrens playground, barbeque and picnic areas. But it retains its history and it does it very well.

The tour of the house and farm I have done so many times. The coffee shop does real coffee. If you are looking for a recession buster – this is it! I went last weekend. I brought my flask [of fresh ground coffee] and a picnic. The weather wasn’t great but the grounds looked magnificient.

1001 gardens you must see before you die

apart from the title... ?

apart from the title... ?

The only thing I didn’t like about this book is the title. A little depressing to be honest. Why it needed Titschmarsh to do the preface i’ll never know [no offence 😉 ]. Why they didn’t just change the title to 1001 garden to make you smile and just leave it at that… ?

That said said this is a great reference book. I have used it many times from The Monte Palace Tropical Gardens in Madeira to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in South Africa and I absolutely love it.

A must have for any garden library. Pretty simple to use. If you do get away, even in Ireland, just have a leaf through and you are guaraneed to find a garden worth visiting near you.

kirstenbosch national botanical gardens

cape town, south africa

designer: Professor Harold Pearson
owner: South African National Biodiversity Institute
style: 20th century botanical garden in parkland
size: garden 89 acres; park 1,305 acres
climate: mediterranean
location: cape town, western cape
[source: 1001 gardens you must see before you die]

I was in Cape Town for very different reasons than to visit gardens of any sort, but, with a a little spare time available – this year I managed it.

To say I was blown away and left mesmerised is an understatement. This is the ultimate in relaxation, garden enthusiast or not. That said, I cheated-ish, well… An eight seater golf cart pulled into the front car park just as I was buying my ticket – and so I got the guided tour. I could have walked, but it was easier to sit and learn. As a by the way, it costs 32 Rand [approximately €2.50] to take the guided tour by cart 😉

The back drop is of course the amazing table mountains. The Camphor [Cinnamonum camphor] tree avenues are equally superb and stood out to me as they were the answer to a question in a recent pub quiz 😉 and outside of that the Strelitzia’s especially the much raved of ‘Mandelas Gold’ variety is there in abundance. The photographs will show some of these wrapped in chicken wire – this is to capture the seed by the way [I did listen… 🙂 ]

I did it in one hour – it’s all I had time for – I could have stayed there forever. I loved every second.

Monte Palace Tropical Gardens, Madiera

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  • designer: Jóse Berado, Eleuterio Soares
  • owner: Jóse Berado Foundation
  • garden style: Portuguese-Oriental
  • size: 21 aces [8.5 ha]
  • climate: mediterranean
  • location: funchal madiera

[source: 1001 gardens you must see before you die]

It is very unusual for me, possibly, to go on holidays and then – for a break of sorts – to visit gardens…? It’s not really.

The island of Madiera is quite an intriguing place when one sees what is happening to the land on this small island [i believe we in Ireland had a similar situation some time ago]; Planning aside, horticulturally this entire island is a dream-land for the plant lover, botanist and garden enthusiast.

But, my review is of The Monte Palace Gardens or The ‘Jardim Tropical da Quinta do Monte Palácio’ and aside from the slightly touristy, yet worth it, cable car journey up and the timber sleigh down, they are absolutely stunning, breathtakingly beautiful and so worthwhile visiting.

The gardens themselves date back to the 18th century but the works on turning the ‘land’ into gardens of merit actually only started in 1987. If you do visit, I would suggest going twice as every path splits into two or three different directions and so one doesn’t ‘really’ get to see everything.

For the plants person there are over 100,000 plant species; For the architect, the buildings are simply amazing; For the garden lover it is paradise and if you ever wanted an oriental themed garden – this is were you should look for inspiration. If you’re not an uber-garden lover then it is simply relaxation in it’s finest form. My pictures probably don’t do it justice enough.

I try to visit a garden in every county and country I visit. Not all of them appear here. These gardens however would be up there with the very best of them.