I’m Katya Hughes, a happy mother, loving wife and true fan of healthy eating. This blog is the place for me to talk to like-minded people about things that really matter – home, family, health…and cooking – yes, cooking, because we are what we eat! Enjoy your stay and don’t be shy to add your opinion and expertise for others to benefit from it!
How many gardens would you say are open to the public on the island of Ireland? One hundred, two hundred? Even inveterate garden visitors may be surprised to learn that there are more than 400. In Shirley Lanigan’s new book, The Open Gardens of Ireland (The Butter Slip Press, €22.50), the author visits and describes 427 Irish gardens. She was surprised to find so many. “In the month before I set out visiting, I was having my doubts about the whole project,” she says. “People were still scraping along after the recession, and it was all a bit ‘doom and gloom’. I was thinking, ‘This is going to be a disaster’. ”
What she found, however, was that more gardens than ever were opening to visitors. “Loads of people were beavering away, doing their thing. I got happier and happier as I went on,” Lanigan says.
One area that has provided an unexpected treasury of gardens newly open to the public is the west, particularly counties Mayo, Sligo and Donegal. “That’s where all the action is taking place now.” Take Co Donegal, for instance: in 2001, when Lanigan published her first gardens guide, the O’Brien Guide to Irish Gardens, she found just four gardens to visit there. Sixteen years later, she has identified 25. “When I meet a gardener who is particularly engaging, or a garden that surprises me, they are often in Donegal.” She loves Dorothy Jervis’s patch at Sea View, in Mountcharles. “It’s a real country garden and is utterly charming. She’s the fourth generation to live there; her granny got it going with a couple of rose bushes, and everything is grown from cuttings. Dorothy opens it for charity,” she says.