Even in the middle of Winter, a gardener has work to do. Even when it’s dark and wet and many of us are sitting by the fire, gardeners are working – cutting back, potting, replanting, tidying, painting… Even though the doors of the Fota Frameyard are closed until March, Bernard and Ian are busy, along with the volunteers, tending the gardens and getting ready for the new season of visitors.
Many of the beds and borders in the Fota Frameyard are planted in alphabetical order with plants beginning with ‘A’ grouped together, followed by those beginning with ‘B’ etc. The majority of the plants in our Frameyard come from warmer climes and far off places, with the exception of a few natives – Arbutus unedo being one of them.
“And a garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all, it teaches entire trust.” Gertrude Jekyll, 1899 (Wood and Garden)
In the Fota Frameyard, among the many women volunteers, there are some excellent gardeners. These women gardeners can relate easily to one Victorian woman whose vision, creativity and experience shaped much of how we garden today. Gertrude Jekyll was an extraordinary woman. (And if you’re wondering about the name, yes, there might be a connection with the famous book by Robert Louis Stephenson.)* Born in 1843, in the 6th year of Queen Victoria’s reign, she defied convention and achieved things most of the women of her generation could only dream of. She was an artist, horticulturist, garden designer and a wonderful writer.
Whilst a good number of volunteers are working with staff on the annual exercise of taking all the decorations down from the attics and sitting around a table sorting, making and sometimes mending, Museum Standards and Property Care Co-ordinator Stephen Continue reading →
Walls are in the news at the moment. Walls to keep people out or to keep people in. In the Fota Frameyard and Throughout the gardens, our benign stone walls give shelter and support to many of the beautiful and sometimes delicate plants and shrubs growing there.
The Frameyard itself is surrounded by walls, old walls in red brick and grey limestone. Recently one of our volunteers, Anna, went to a workshop on the conservation of historic masonry walls, run by Cork County Council. She learned some interesting things there.
This delicate watercolour of the geranium Henry Joignot was painted by one of our Frameyard volunteers, Vivienne Johansson. Vivienne is a talented botanical artist and a Friend of the Society of Botanical Artists, London. She is also a keen gardener and her art work has allowed her to combine both passions with beautiful results. She “looks at flowers with a view to painting them”.
It’s election time in the USA and while a battle rages between the Democratic and Republican Parties our thoughts turn to things American. Perhaps this is a good time to look at the connection between a big house in County Cork and a big house in Geneseo, New York.
We can begin this story in another big house in London, where James Samuel Wadsworth and Mary Craig Wharton went on honeymoon in May, 1834.
Lots of Sweet Pea are grown in Fota every year. When the Frameyard is open to the public, some volunteers collect their flowers and make beautiful bunches of them. They don’t last long, as they are among the first items to be bought by our visitors. The scent reminds me of my Granny’s garden. It has the power to bring me right back to my early childhood.