Cashel House- The Final Day of the Course

by Ciaran Burke

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 2011

It was raining during the night. When we woke, Hanna pulled back the curtains, the sun light came flooding into the room. Through the branches of the tress in the secret garden it created twisted silhouettes and golden rays. We had just had an excellent night sleep, the quiet of Cashel Bay wraps your sleep in calm. We strolled outside onto the front lawn, the grass was moist and sparkling. The white tulips looked a little dishevelled, as if they had had a hard night, but still beautiful in their white petal gowns.

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 2011

EMBOTHRIUM COCCINEUM FLOWER

We walked to the Secret Garden, it was an orchard one hundred years ago. A previous owner had a greater desire for botanical curiosity than for home grown apples and now the low walled garden is a small woodland comprised of exotic specimens. We walked along the path, passing floriferous camellias, under the great Chilean flame tree, Embothrium coccineum, which in May is a blaze of red flowers. A great white Japanese cherry flowers above a rustic wooden bench. The big leaves of the American skunk cabbage, Lysichiton americanum, are growing in the wet, still in the infancy of spring they have not yet reached their dramatic summer size. Their yellow spathe flowers fill the air around the pond with a heavy odour. Further along the  lady’s matle, Alchemilla mollis, lies at the path side still dressed with last nights rain drops. We stop to wonder at the size and beauty of the huge Magnolia x soulangeana, the biggest I have ever seen. From Mary’s Garden you can see it mingle with and rise above other trees. We walk the upper path and see the last flowers and big paddle shaped leaves of Rhododendron macabeanum. We admire the large trunks of the tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera, still undressed, the branches not yet concealed with its unusual shaped leaves nor decorated with yellow tulip-like flowers, not till July will the flowers appear. Just before we exit the garden we have to bow as we pass under a stretched out limb of Persian ironwood, Parrotia persica. Another naked tree, the leaves starting to unfurl. The bareness reveals a wonderful structure of twisted and spreading branches. Soon they will be covered in green foliage that will burn red and orange in autumn.

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 2011

MAGNOLIA X SOULANGEANA PLANT IN SECRET GARDEN

There is nothing like a walk under botanical wonders to give me an appetite, so in we went for breakfast. After eating I set up for the day’s class. We continued the presentation on vegetable gardening. Some people had questions about some of the plants that we had seen on our walks in the garden. I showed them pictures of the plants, someone was curious about how the Embothrium flowers would look in May. Before the lunch we took a short walk through the gardens and I answered the group’s garden questions, there were many!

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 2011

LUNCH MENU

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 2011

LAMB FOR LUNCH

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 2011

SPINACH ROULADE

We sat in the bar which over looks the garden. In comfortable laid back seats we ordered lunch. Once more we were spoilt for choice and the food as always was excellent. I had the lamb for main course while Hanna had the spinach roulade. Once we all had finished our dessert and coffee, we went back outside into the sunshine and walked up through the vegetable garden, pausing on the way to explain the origins of the Irish yew, Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata’ Our class had been joined by two American guests staying at the hotel, gardeners from Washington D.C. When reaching the vegetable garden I demonstrated pruning, and then we pruned one of the apple trees. I explained the reasons and the method, demonstrating how it was done. The everybody had a go, each member of the party also pruning some branches of the apple trees.

When the day and the course was over we gathered for farewell tea and scones in the drawing room. I had enjoyed the weekend, talking about plants and gardening fills me with enthusiasm. Especially when I meet other people with an eagerness to learn. The weekends of our Cashel House Hotel courses always fly so fast. Its not just the fun of doing the course, the beautiful gardens and the delicious food. We feel that we always make new friends and as somebody from the garden class said, Cashel House is perfect for a gardening course; the garden, the company, the food and the atmosphere.

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 2011

JAPANESE CHERRY FLOWERING OVER RUSTIC WOODEN SEAT

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