Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Rhododendron Television..

That's a photograph of Derreen gardens near Kenmare, here in Ireland.  I love Rhododendrons and Azaleas and visiting stately homes with their fantastic old gardens.  Most of the one's in Ireland seem to have belonged to Anglo Irish families.  A lot of the houses and gardens need lots of tender loving care.  It's a shame the National Trust isn't in Ireland.  Don't think it is.  Is it?

Derreen Gardens near Kenmare
If you tune into BBC 4 tonight at 7.30.  There's a programme called:  A Garden in Snowdonia.  Tonight it's all about my friends the Rhododendrons at Bodnant gardens in North Wales.  It costs the National Trust one million pounds a year to run and maintain Bodnant.  I once visited it many moons a go.  It's well worth a visit.  So is Heligan, (been there) Tresco (went there in an helicopter) and Cholmondley (fantastic refreshments and Italian garden).

Well done BBC.  Can we have a weekly television programme about vintage tractors?  Please!!


  1. Don't know about the National trust in Ireland, pity, as it does some good preservation work in England (and probably Scotland and Wales too)

    Yes, be nice to have a TV show about vintage tractors and machinery in general, the nearest I've seen is "How Britain Worked" with Guy Martin, Fred Dibnah in various guises, and the Victorian (and other eras) Farm series.
    And they're not on often enough.

    Not a bad morning yesterday, Mrs feeling well enough for a run out, took her over Hard Knott Pass, first time she's seen it, there's a lot more ferns taking over since last time I was there about 20 years ago, but still plenty of Herdwicks, and it's still as steep. Contrast to see the rugged, steep, rocky, treeless Western side (our approach) from the more gentle greener and forested slopes on the Eastern, even the sheep are different.
    A pie for lunch at Gosforth, best village bakery in West Cumbria, probably the North of England, meat & potato, and there really is more meat than potato; not cheap at £1.90, but one's a meal in itself.

    Rained hard yesterday afternoon and continued this morning, not quite as heavy, faired up now, sun's trying to break through.

    Raggy cat spending more time indoors through the day, but still out every night.

  2. Hi Cumbrian,

    I have visited quite a few big houses in Ireland. Most of them seem to look a bit tired and need some tlc. The National Trust is also a big employer. Thousands of jobs could be created tending to these wonderful old mansions and estates. The National Trust in the UK is even allowing people to rent allotments on some of their estates. Perhaps this could build a few villages in them also. I watch 'Build, Buy or Restore' quite often. Rural property seems very expensive in Britain. This is not so in Ireland. If you want a cheap doer upper in the countryside look on and search in the 0 -50 000 Euro bracket. You would be surprised what you will find. There also lots of cheap properties in rural Spain. What you do for a living is another story. Think that's why so many become 'weekend' holiday homes.

    The Gosforth meat and potato pie sounds wonderful.

    Cattle inside now. They seem very content. Number one son did a brilliant job with the welding.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. Lol....looks like a volcano in the distance!

  4. Yes it does John. There are quite a few extinct volcanos in Ireland.

  5. Yes, it does seem sad, so many people unemployed and so many of our beautiful old buildings just falling into ruins and their once-productive kitchen gardens and formal gardens reverting to the wild. The big machines are maybe fast and efficient at farming huge acreages of monocrops, but there's a lot of smaller patches where they can't get, or not worth their while, I wonder how many people could be employed working these areas and fed from the produce?

    Always feel a bit sad when I see the derelict old rural cottages, barns and even farms, but there's not a lot left here, most of them have been renovated to form accommodation or holiday lets. Lake District restrictions on new build has meant that every possible building has been converted. Unfortunately quite a lot of them are owned by people who don't live in them.
    Looking at the prices in Ireland I wish I was 30 years younger.

    The small village bakery at Gosforth is one that has survived against the modern trend of "bigger is better", probably helped by the fact that Gosforth is a long way from the nearest supermarket, and certainly by the very high quality of their products. It's in a cottage in the main thoroughfare (can't call it a street) the shop area is the porch, about 8' x 5', at lunch time queues are often full length of the front garden path, and a notice advises customers to order in advance to avoid disappointment.

    Cattle still outside here, it's not really cold, but I think they'll soon be in, it's getting a bit wet.

    Raggy cat continues its nocturnal lifestyle, in this morning, feed and milk then asleep on Mrs, she's still in bed, must be the warmest place it can find.

  6. The countryside can be very depressing if you don't drive, have no job, old or disabled. Rural isolation is very damaging to the spirit.

    I love reading about the old productive kitchen gardens. Heligan in Cornwall is my favourite. The two world wars swung the death knoll to these wonderful places. People no longer would work for a pittance and live in poor conditions. They wanted a good wage and a modern house.

    Rural Ireland and Portugal and Spain are full of derelict old houses and even villages in Galicia. I often think that I would live in Portugal or Spain. Making a living would be a problem and so would the language.

    The village bakery sounds wonderful. Rather like your French man (you told us about) who sits drinking and selling wine from his caravan.

    A lot of cattle still outside here. Raining today. Made a great start weeding the veg plot yesterday. Lots of 'Twitch' couch grass from the farm manure. Planted my winter onion setts.

    It's pitch black at 7.30 now. Wish we had street lights.


  7. Yes, the countryside can be a very lonely place, especially in winter and for single people. A lot of the people who profess to love the country so much only see it at its best, in summer and at holiday times.

    It's true I suppose there was a lot of workers living in what we consider sub-standard conditions on slave wages, but at least they had somewhere to live and presumably enough to eat, and the support of a local community. Pity the wealth couldn't have been a bit more evenly distributed.

    Dull, cold, damp and breezy, pretty miserable; autumn's really here, my walk this morning was among falling leaves, the trees are shedding fast with all the wind we're having, brambles all shrivelled up, at least I got enough to try some gin and some vodka, they're looking good in the Kilner jars.
    Apple wine transferred to demijohn this morning, that's them all full and bubbling away.

    Nights cutting in very quickly, full dark about 7 o'clock, feels like winter already.

    Raggy cat continuing its hedonistic lifestyle, it seems to be appreciating the good life. We haven't had a mouse for a while, haven't seen one either.

  8. Hi Cumbrian,

    Yes the countryside can be a very isolated place, especially during the winter. I often think that anybody wanting to move to the countryside. Should either rent somewhere or go and work on a farm or smallholding first. I would also recommend that they have access to public transport or within walking distance of a village with a pub, community centre and shop. I am asking a lot there aren't I?

    The countryside is great if you have friends and family to help you. Here in Ireland I was reading a farming newspaper last week. They suggested that farmers should share their small farms to make them more profitable. Good idea in terms of getting help and sharing equipment. But I don't think it would work in practice.

    I would have loved to have been a kitchen gardener in one of the big Edwardian houses. You might even have got a really good Patriarchal or Matriarchal landowner. Who looked after you.

    People like Robert Owen and Cadbury and the Rowntree families made model villages and allotments for their workers.

    Very windy today. Cattle scoffing contentedly without a moo.

  9. Our equivalent to the british national trust is the Office of Public Works which undertakes some amazing restoration projects. A lot of people now see the destructive power of the rhododendron, for it spreads like wildfire and nothing grows under its branches, plus it does not even produce good firewood because it releases a poisonous gas when being burnt. Nothing more than a colonialists weed like the fuchsia and montbretia !

  10. Thanks for that: A Herons View. The Office of Public Works could be the answer to Ireland's unemployment problem? It would also revamp some wonderful restoration projects. Big houses like Bantry House have started making their grounds available for people to tend allotments.

    Most plants and vegetables originate from far away. The Rhododendron is now thought to have dcome from Spain and Portugal rather than Asia. I read somewhere that the Fuchsia came from Chile during the Ice Age. I wonder if the Spaniards brought the potato to Ireland or was it sir Walter Raleigh when liven in Youghal?

    The Rhododendron is an incredibly beautiful weed.

    Thanks for your comment!

  11. The OPW would be part of the answer in solving the unemployment crisis IF the country were not in dire financial straits.

  12. You are right that Ireland is in dire financial straits: A Herons View. I think the only way forward is for the government to directly create jobs instead of just paying back loans and introducing new taxes. Social housing building, new road and rail infrastructure and the OPW would soon put the country back to work.



Another One Of My Gardens.

We made this garden last summer.  Number one son cleared and levelled and broke rock with his digger.  He also laid the round patio whilst ...