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See a sample issue of The Irish Garden!

January 2008

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Sandra O'Hagan and fellow members went on tour

With last year's regrettable summer finally over, Barryroe club members needed a break from our boggy borders and shabby looking shrubs - a morale boost, to remind us why we love gardening so much. Just how do open gardens fare when the stubborn sun refuses to shine and it rains relentlessly?

Not wishing to go too far afield, Limerick seemed the ideal location and the cream of the crop in those parts is Terra Nova. What with an important local GAA match and several members on vacation, our number was small enough to accommodate Aunt Kathleen (an honorary member) in the car. The ‘fab' four confidently set off armed with directions but then got chatting, missed a few landmarks and suddenly became lost. No need to panic though, a handsome knight in shining armour kindly redirected our merry little band and thankfully, as the majority swooned, our special guest paid heed to what he said. Eventually we arrived to a very warm welcome from Deborah and Martin Begley, who between them have created Terra Nova.

The ‘fab' four confidently set off armed with directions but then got chatting, missed a few landmarks and suddenly became lost.

With success under its belt, Terra Nova has witnessed a steady stream of celebrity guests and signing my name in the visitors' book, on the same page as a television personality was quite a thrill. However, the garden is the real superstar here, with so much to see and inspiration at every turn. It is quite quirky with some charming touches. The pergola was perfect, adorned with beautiful scented roses. Tree ferns at differing heights created a real atmosphere and the beach hut was a hoot. Obviously Martin is a big fern fan because they were sneaked into every nook and cranny including halfway up a large ornate urn.

There was something for everyone. The collectors among us spotted lots of unusual species and our full-time gardener was duly impressed. The icing on the cake was the newly erected Thai hut which was a triumph, cutting-edge yet really cosy. It was like stepping into a distant land and being serenaded by the sounds of the orient. Partly built to get the kids away from their 21st century gadgetry, it was certainly cool enough for any teenager to invite their mates round, beats my American-style fridge-freezer hands down.

As we came to the end of the tour, Deborah mentioned that they were visiting a local, rarely opened, garden. Not a group to miss an opportunity we tagged along for a look. At team Terra Nova both personalities really shine through but our second visit was a total contrast, a rugged, male terrain of rare specimens, with barely a flower in sight. We watched, bemused, as three men stood salivating over the tiniest fern imaginable, yes a fern!

As we headed home, it was agreed that the rest of the club just had to come and see it for themselves. A call from home relayed the Barryroe Junior B team's success and as we drove through the cheery celebrations it seemed like a fitting end to a great day.         



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