Fota Frameyard Blog

Gardening, Nature and Heritage from Fota House

Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf


Being new to the parish of gardening and gardening history, I’m always keen to learn more. So last Saturday I took myself off to an afternoon at the Nano Nagle Centre in Cork where there was a screening of this fascinating documentary Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf. The film gives a wonderful insight into the Dutch garden designer’s philosophy and approach to planting.

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William Beswick, Eliza and Arthur at the Lily Pond in Fota

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Best in Show

When William Beswick, Head Gardener at Fota House, attended the County Cork Agricultural Spring Show in 1903, the weather was good. The Band of the 4th Battalion Manchester Regiment played military marches and ragtime music. As the judge in the fruit section,  he had high standards and declared that “The specimens were neatly prepared but there was room for improvement”. Nonetheless, he awarded prizes for cooking and eating apples (home grown) to some of his neighbours –  Robert Samual Topp of Glanmire and Ludlow Beamish of Ashcroft, Queenstown.  

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Pride of the Glasshouse

In Glasshouse 6 in the Victorian Working Garden at Fota, the Echium candicans, pride of Madeira is thriving. Standing beside it is like listening to an orchestra of strings, as the bees visit  this bee-friendly plant all day long.

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Laying out the gardens at Fota

A new exhibition has opened in the Victorian Working Garden at Fota House, on the life of William Beswick, Head Gardener, 1901-1915. Gathering information for the exhibition has been a fascinating journey and Catherine and I have enjoyed every minute of the research.  We have discovered some very interesting and relevant information that we thought we would share with you to compliment the opening of this exhibition.

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A short but fruitful life

“How sweet a preparation of the medium of life is a kind friend’s letter”  Ellen Hutchins

Ellen Hutchins family recently found a bundle of 50 letters written by her to other members of her family. These letters and the many hundreds of others written by her to her mentors and fellow plant enthusiasts, bring to life her passion for all things natural.  Letters were important to Ellen Hutchins, as her own ill-health and the duties of caring for her elderly mother and disabled brother meant that she rarely travelled outside of Bantry Bay. Despite this confinement, it could be said that she took “the road less travelled” because she was a pioneer and Ireland’s first female botanist. 

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