Sunday, 16 September 2012

Day Trip To Derreen Gardens.

Howdy Folks.

It's a miserable and wet Sunday morning here in West Cork.  So I thought I would trawl through my photographs and show you some more of my 'interesting'  photographs.  One of my interests along with self supporting, writing, rock music, watching Manchester United on Sky, reading and real ale is visiting stately houses and exploring their gardens.

The picture above is taken a couple of years ago at Derreen gardens near Lauragh on the Beara Peninsula.  The Gulf Stream currents make it possible for all kinds of weird and exotic plants to grow.  That's a wonderful soft tree fern called:  Dickonsia Antartica.  Interestingly enough people started growing these by accident.

Years ago when people like the Tolpuddle Martyrs where deported to Australia.  The sailors realised that they need needed ballast for the return journey back to Blighty.  So they cut down the tree ferns and filled the ships hold with them for buoyancy.  On return they threw them into the harbour.  Some must of washed up or somebody planted them and incredibly they grew roots.  People started to sell them and plant them in the large gardens.

To quote Michael Caine:

"Not many people know that."

Derreen House in all it's glory.

The beauty of West Cork scenery.


  1. Absolutely incredible how plants spread and thrive, No I didn't know that, the ferns certainly look impressive, luck of the Irish they washed ashore in the only place with a suitable climate for them?
    Do they have any uses, or purely ornamental?

    Typical of Australia, you needed a criminal record to get there, now they won't let you in with one.

    Dunno who was resposible for the Japanese knotweed though, it's so invasive and impossible to eradicate, it's getting a foothold here, never saw it up to about 10 years ago, it's rampant now, popping up everywhere, especially near water, dunno how it appears in some of the places I see it.

    Faired up a bit now, still damp cold and miserable though. Got keg soaking in srealising fluid and tap taken to bits and soaking as well.
    Had to go for Raffy cat biccies, and a pack of salmon was just being finally reduced, £5.66 down 90%, I paid 57p, so guess what's for dinner tomorrow with Charlotte new potatoes and runner beans.

    Hedonistic little sod still asleep in front of fire, even if I've knocked it off.

  2. Hi Cumbrian. You're right it is incredible how plants spread and thrive. We have miles upon miles of Fuchsia hedges here in Ireland and they are said to originate in Chile. Who brought them here? Rabbits and hares are said to have been brought to the British isles by the Romans. The Romans never came to Ireland so I suppose we should blame it on the Normans.

    I think the tree ferns are purely ornamental. The rain and the Gulf Stream seems to make them thrive. You can pay eighty pounds upwards for a tree fern.

    I think the Japanese knot-weed came with the Rhododendrons? These were planted on the large country estates for Pheasants and Grouse to shelter under. This plant is also considered an invasive species.

    I wonder if Japanese Knot-weed is related to Rhubarb because they both contain lots of oxalic acid and are incredibly poisonous if you feed the stalks to livestock.

    Yes it faired up (great description) really well here also. I may get onto the veg plot this week and tame the weeds. It really is untidy and I need to stop talking about it and put some physical work into restoring into its former glory. In fairness though it's not been fit or possible to tend it.

    It sounds like you have some great meals. I am having another go at another soup recipe tomorrow - Carrot I think?

    Terrier is clean and dry and sleeping next to the stove.

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  3. Dunno about the knot-weed being related to the rhubarb, seems quite possible, I know it's just about impossible to get rid of and smothers everything else.
    I see it everywhere, places I can't even guess how it got there, and once it's there, it spreads fast. I've seen it choking small becks, it grows quite big in some places.

    I've heard rabbits were brought by the Romans, mixy decimated them here years ago, but they seem to be making a come-back. Don't know why more people don't keep them for meat, they lend themselves ideally to small spaces, easy to feed and breed like rabbits do. Healthy meat I beleive as well, but a lot of people seem to have an aversion to eating them.

    I think everybodys garden or allotment will be a bit overgrown this year, too wet to get on it, sometimes does more harm than good when the soil's sodden. suppose if the weeds are doing well, the veg should be as well?

    Mrs feeling a bit better today, she started a new regime on the pain-killers, seems to be working, maybe tomorrow a run out to Carlisle, market hall with a traditional butcher selling such good things as ham shanks, rack of ribs and haggis in sheeps paunch. That means a diet rich in lentil soup this week.
    Like the sound of carrot soup, maybe with an onion and a couple of spuds thrown in.

    Keeps dry, but cold.
    Raggy cat gone out early, dunno what the rush is, must be something important.

  4. Its funny how the 'native' vs 'not native' thing works. We've a friend who works as a botanist here for the environment agency, who desperately try and eradicate sycamore, on the basis that its not native. There's good evidence to show that its been here for thousands of years, and lots of species that are common now, arrived after the end of the last ice age.
    The knotweed is horrible stuff once it gets in - didn't someone come up with a biological way to control it? They did something similar in Australia with toads, and now have those enormous toad eating toads, taking over the place.
    Palms are very common up here on the Ards Peninsula - they seem to thrive in the microclimate there, and these days you see ones that have seeded themselves in the most unlikely places.
    I also have a running battle with rhodedendron that crops up in the birchwoods and then goes beserk - it seems to be almost indestructible.

  5. Hi Cumbrian. Knot-weed and rhubarb leaves both contain oxalic acid.
    This is incredibly poisonous if fed to livestock.

    Mxymatosis was a terribly cruel death and I believe it was developed in a laboratory for sheep farmers to stop rabbits eating the grass. Isn't there an island off Scotland that's full of rats and they experimented with Anthrax during WW2?

    Dry here but it's a lot cooler.

    No I don't know why rabbit farming isn't popular. Perhaps it's because they are rodents and cousins of the rat? During the war people seemed to be very glad of rabbit with the meat rations. Perhaps we are all too fussy day?

    The veg plot will look like a veg plot this week and the 2 pigs and 12 ducks?, will get a good feed with some of the weeds. The ducks love sorting through it and finding worms or snails.

    Hope Mrs Cumbrian feels better and you get to Carlisle. The traditional butcher sounds fascinating. Please let us know all the delicacies they sell? Do they have a website?

    Will let you know all about the carrot soup

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  6. Thanks Steve for that. The Ice Age theory probably explains how the Fuschia got here from Chile? Think Sycamore is a member of the Acer family. A tree that so many gardeners (Japanese influence) have to have?

    Is there any use for Rhododendron wood? I think it's flowers are incredible.

    I would recommend people look at your fantastic blog: Offgrid and Low Impact living. Steve's projects are awe inspiring. Especially his Roundhouse. But make sure ye all come back here folks!

    We have been so inspired that we have started making our very own half roundhouse on the veg plot for me to keep my tools, rest, read and maybe have a drink of my home brewed bitter? Watch this post.

    Thanks Steve.

  7. Hi Dave,
    It's not often that we get sight of you in a picture, and in this one, you seem to be half-hidden under a/the wonderful looking tree.

  8. Hi Pat,

    "Hows things? Anything strange?"

    That's often how the West Cork people greet each other. Yeah it is a wonderful looking tree. I have even seen giant Redwoods over here. Did you see any of those on your America trip?


  9. I think the island you mention is St Kilda, it had a small population who, if what I've heard is true, had an economy based on the Fulmar which they caught in great numbers and traded for their necessities. I beleive were re-settled to the mainland.
    Or so the story goes.

  10. Hi Cumbrian,

    Yes you're right it was St Kilda. Thanks for that.


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