MOUNT USHER GARDENS, AN AUTUMN SPECTACULAR
There was a definite nip in the air signalling the arrival of autumn. Love this time of year, the landscape transforms from the lush greens into a new canvas of warm colour, then, a night of wind and rain and that canvas changes once again as the trees bare themselves to expose their woody structures and settle in until springs when the whole yearly cycle begins again. For us humans, outcome the winter coats the woollies, the home fires are lit, the story books come out and we enjoy quality time with each other. Cosy nights ahead.
County Wicklow is often referred to as the garden of Ireland, and it is truly beautiful with bracken and woodland covered mountains, lakes set in the valleys and what seems like endless streams, rivers and cascading waterfalls.
Mount Usher Gardens and Arboretum are part of this spectacle in County Wicklow and is set in the heart of the village of Ashford. From the road it has a rather unassuming in appearance. On entering the courtyard heading to the entrance to the Walled Gardens there are a selection of small country shops, coffee shops and cafes. The canter of this oasis is covered naturally with willows and other leafy trees with garden seating and tables scattered informally where you may sit and relax with a nice cuppa or a homemade snack.
This privately owned wild garden paradise has some 4,500 shrubs and trees from all over the world. Set on 22 acre, this Robinsonian Wild Garden filled with fascinating foliage, giant trees, and natural green paths that beckon you to explore. Planting began here in 1868 by Edward Walpole, the garden’s founder, and has been developed over the years expanding the plant species and using organic methods for weed control. No fertilisers are employed.
This wild garden is home to thousands of varieties of plants from all over the world, including many rare species. The enormous exotic and native trees create an isolation to the world outside by their mere size and canopy foliage. The garden is divided through the middle by the river Vartry which originates in the Wicklow Mountains, working its way to the Irish Sea, via Mount Usher Gardens, flows over several weirs adding a tranquil sound to this peaceful space. The river is spanned by several suspension bridges. Keep an eye out for the fleeting king fishers and the elusive Dipper diving to the river bed to feed….but you need to be alert!
Walks throughout the garden are along natural garden walkways such as the Azalea Walk, spectacular in the spring, the Maple Walk and the Riviera Walk. Lush shrubbery and flowering plants, streams, wet areas and ponds add wide wildlife habitats. There is a well organised “Tree Trail” to help you explore the garden, where you can, from the trail map, identify individual trees which are all numbered throughout the garden. Perfect, not only for the “big people”, but also for the “kids”.
This beautiful garden once again blew my mind on my autumn visit this October. The colours of the trees preparing to shed their leaves, the lush vegetation and what was truly amazing was the quantity of new flora, so fresh and vividly coloured adding joy and cheerfulness whilst firing up the hidden belief in fairies and their secrets gardens.
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