Ireland: Flowers, food and an egret
Ireland: Cafe Paradiso

Ireland: Fota Arboretum

The Orangery and palms at Fota Arboretum. Image:© Continuing our visit to West Cork, we went off to hear Joy Larkcom speak at the Grow Your Own seminar at Fota Arboretum. A short ferry ride from the mainland, the island of Fota is located in Cork Harbour and its world famous arboretum features a superb collection of trees and shrubs in particular in a balmy frost free environment.

Joy’s talk – make sure you catch her if she’s speaking near you – was entitled Creative Vegetable Gardening and featured not only her own gardens but other gardens in Europe and North America. Lots of ideas to steal!

After the talk Brian Cross led a guided tour of the arboretum. Brian’s own garden at Lakemount has been described by the Royal Horticultural Society as one of Ireland's "flagship gardens". He knew Fota at a very early age and proved a good-humoured and knowledgeable guide.

The arboretum, which rarely gets a frost, features many fine trees including the largest Cryptomeria japonica 'Spiralis' in Europe and two other huge cryptomerias by the pond as well as specimen palms, magnolias and cedars. There are some lovely specimens of the Drimys winteri with its fragrant spring flowers and also of its relation the delightful multicoloured foliage shrub Pseudowintera colorata together with many other plants rarely seen elsewhere.

Bananas, echiums and fuchsias at Fota Arboretum. Image:©GardenPhotos.comBananas and fuchsias, the magenta purple climber Cestrum x newellii and the amazing pink and yellow flowered Lonicera x heckrottii with many fine hardy fuchsias are found in the long border on the other side of the wall from the Pleasure Garden with its many autumn perennials.

Even if you don’t have a great passion for rare trees and shrubs, Fota is still well worth a visit for the atmosphere is restful and intriguing, there’s formal and informal gardens through which to stroll and the café chowder was very tasty.