Beautiful young Weeping Birch
Kilmokea Manor and Gardens
It’s been a couple of years since I last visited Kilmokea Country Manor and its woodland garden. It has matured beautifully and the flora, ground plants and the trees never fail to excite me. The heritage of this house and garden goes a long way back in time with the Anglo-Norman homestead, Viking settlement and Monastic site all of which were situated on the grounds of Kilmokea.
The Manor, owned and run by Emma and Mark Hewlett, is of Georgian heritage and overlooks a beautifully presented Walled Garden, now vibrant with colour from a variety of colourful tulips and the flower laden Prumus Ukon tree. To one side of the garden, enclosed in flowering shrubs, and one large flower laden Magnolia tree is a pond with fish and a soothing fountain. At the end of the pond is an Italian Loggia where you can sit and soak in this cosy little corner un-disturbed.
Walking through the garden, passed a group of banana trees, some small, sitting alcoves intimately placed among the foliage, heading to a wooden gate. This is the entrance to Aladdin’s Cave. Beyond this point the garden becomes more wooded and dense. The raucous calls from the horde of crows screaming from the rookery high above you in direct competition with the resident Peacock “Mr Higgins“ not wishing to be left out of the vocal contest. Keeping left will bring you to the well-stocked organic vegetable garden, a potager designed box maize, where fruit and vegetables are grown to supply the kitchen with fresh produce for homemade food for the house guests and visitors alike.
Homemade soups of Mushroom & parsley, Courgette & brie, Carrot & mint or Mediterranean roast tomato served with Kilmokea yummy home baked brown bread filled with cranberries, herbs, sundried tomatoes or cheese. A selection of summer salads with honey and mustard dressings accompanies homemade lasagnes and toasted paninis filled with seasonal fare are some of the favourites enjoyed by visitors to the house and garden.
Keeping to the right, another wooden door. This leads onto the public road which you need to cross to enter the Woodland Garden. A whole new adventure. Cultivation of this area began in 1968 with the excavation of the large pond. It was here that a millstone and flume from a horizontal mill were found dating back to the 7th Century. A maze of solid pathways takes you into the heart of this garden, large trees and woodland with flowing streams and the sound of cascading water creating an atmosphere of tranquility where you may become at one with the surroundings. The rhododendrons, camellias, magnolias, echiums, the giant borage which is closely associated with Kilmokea, create the lower growth and towering Dawn Redwood (China from the time of the dinosaurs!), birch and eucalyptus trees add a variety of colour and patterns to the canopy.
A new activity in this wonderful woodland garden is “Forrest Bathing”, a Japanese Forrest Therapy which was popularised in Japan in the 1980’s and in 1982 they made this form of mobile meditation under the canopy of living forests a part of its national health program.
Emma explained it to me. “Forest Bathing in Japanese is shinrin-yoku. ‘Shinrin’ means forest and ‘Yoku’ stands for bathing. Broadly it means taking in all of one’s senses and the woodland atmosphere. Not simply a walk in the woods, it is the conscious and contemplative practice of being immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of the woodland around you, spending quiet, mindful time in nature to improve your wellbeing. This relaxation practice was developed in Japan, and it asks you to take notice of the natural world, breathe deeply and calm your mind. Through immersing yourself in nature in a mindful way, you use your senses to achieve a whole range of benefits for your physical, mental, emotional, and social health.”
What Happens during Forest Bathing at Kilmokea.. Emma and Mark offer guests of the house and visitors to the Gardens a Kilmokea a shinrin-yoku leaflet to introduce them to this attractive concept. You use this to self-guide yourself around the woodland Garden. During this experience you will be introduced to standing still to meditate, concentrating on the sounds and smells of the woodland, like the birdsong and the sound of the water and breeze and animals. You they are asked to deliberately walk slowly, running your fingers through leaves and branches, and focusing your eyes on the trees and scenery. You are prompted to stay in one place for at least fifteen minutes, using your senses to explore the present moment. This is “Embodied Awareness.” You then Walk slowly for 15 minutes, noticing what is moving around you. You choose one to three invitations that are a good fit for the place you’re in, the weather, the people, the mood. This part of the experience is called “Infinite Possibilities,” because the woodland offers many choices. You then sit for reflection and conversation.
Forest Bathing and Dinner at the Manor.
Visitors can call at 5.00 pm, enjoy a glass of elderberry wine before setting out to explore this beautiful woodland and try Forest Bathing, returning to the Manor for 7.00pm and have a well-deserved dinner of wholesome homemade cuisine… and a nice glass of wine.
This garden is child friendly and encourages families. Children can have a wonderful experience here, not only learning about the value of this garden but also as a place where they can explore their imagination… fairies, forest people, have a Viking experience and man their Viking boat hidden deep in the forest where the pirates dwell all in an amazing environment.
Kilmokea Country Manor and Garden
Great Island, Campile, New Ross, County Wexford, Ireland
Season Opening June 2021 – Social Distancing throughout
Opening Hours: 10am to 5pm
June 29th, July, August. Every Day
September & October. Wednesday to Sunday
Guided tours by appointment
Food, Snacks, Hot Drinks, Soft Drinks
Play area for kids
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