Fota Arboretum and Gardens

by Ciaran Burke

During the fourteen years that David O’Regan has been gardener at Fota, he has seen some great changes. The gardens that were once the home of the Smith-Barry family are know managed by the Office of Public Works and they have been restored and revitalised.

The mild climate of the island on the Cork coast is perfect for tender plants to thrive. Banana leaves wave in the wind, tree fern fronds thrive and palm trees grow.

We admired a flowering specimen of Kalmia latifolia, a lovely plant for acid soil. A lady in our group informed me that the plant is named after a Finnish botanist, Peter Kalm. Although he is often reported to be Swedish, he was born in the southern Finnish city of Turku, so is therefore a Finn.

Photos below- from top:
David tells our group about Fota and Hanna translates; the fragrant shrub rose R. ‘Penelope’; Neillia thibetica flowers; view of lake with Iris pseudacorus and also Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ on the island; branch of Cryptomeria japonica; banana trees in the walled garden; Dicksonia antartica; palm tree.

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