Posts Tagged ‘Beyond the Wild Garden’

Folks, I got invited on my first ever bloggers trip last month.  Needless to say, I was excited and delighted to accept the invitation.

Now before you all think I was whisked off to an exotic beach…. you could be right.  However, the truth is I was invited to attend the Taste of Carlow event, which was even better than a day at the beach.

Yes, another Midlands county that kind of gets by-passed by all the tours and tour operators.  It is a fate that befalls pretty much all the Midland counties of Ireland. Tourists land in Shannon, or Dublin, and off they go…. all around the coast.  Now I am not saying that our coastline isn’t wonderful…. in fact, I think the Wild Atlantic Way is a wonderful initiative, and I just love some of the promotional stuff…. but could we maybe have a Meander the Magical Midlands initiative?

(I just thought that up now…. it isn’t half bad…. should I patent it?)

Anyway back to my trip to Carlow.

We were blessed with a beautiful day.  I had an early start, out of here at 8 a.m., leaving Alfie in charge of our AirBnB guests – Martha and Emmet – who were very understanding of my rude early departure.

Our bloggers day consisted of history, scenery, food (lots of it), gardens… really a mix of everything…. something to suit all tastes.

We did so much I could be posting forever…. but let me tell you about my highlights… which are in no particular order.

Our Carlow Guide :

Bianka of Carlow Tours

Bianka of Carlow Tours


Bianka of Carlow Tours….. what a treasure.  She told us so much about each place we visited, and had such interesting snippets to share, to make the stories more real.  Seriously, if you are heading to Carlow make sure to book a tour with Bianka.

Historical Carlow :

I just loved Duckett’s Grove Castle.  The Castle suddenly seems to appear before you, with a magnificent drive up to it.  We walked around the Castle and Gardens, and, of course, stopped at The Tea Rooms for tea and the most delicious scones ever.

Duckett's Grove Castle

Duckett’s Grove Castle

Browneshill Dolmen…. now how on earth did they arrange those stones without modern day lifting equipment?

Browneshill Dolmen

Huntington Castle…. this place is totally amazing!  We had a quick ramble around the beautiful gardens, walked along the Yew Walk, before doing the tour of the Castle.  We were also shown some of the more private rooms…. believe me this is an amazing family home.  Then, of course, it was time to stop for more tea…. this time in the magnificent courtyard.

Huntington Castle - Yew Walk


Loved the colours and vibrancy of these flowers on display from The Flowerfield at Huntington Castle.

The Flowerfield display

Scenic Carlow:

A little detour was arranged to take us to Mount Leinster.  In typical Irish weather fashion, having had glorious sunshine all day as soon as we got to the top the rain came down…. but we could still all imagine the magnificent views.

The rain came down :(

The rain came down 😦

Taste of Carlow:

What can I say about the food we had throughout the day?  There were those delicious scones at Duckett’s Grove, the magnificent picnic lunch arranged for us by Carlow Farmers Market, the treats bought at the market, the trip to Malone’s Fruit Farm where I was completely taken by the Smoked Garlic, sips of Elderflower Champagne and Sloe Gin from Mary of Blackstairs Eco Trails – there was a danger that Lisa of Isle Magazine and myself might have stayed there for the afternoon! The day culminated in an absolutely delicious meal at The Step House in Borris where Chef Alan Foley truly pulled out all stops.  My personal favourites of our tasting menu?  The Salmon, the pork and the duck were so so good.

Dinner at The Step House

Dinner at The Step House


Major, major thank you to Dee and Susan from Green & Vibrant for organising such a magnificent day….. they’ve kind of thrown down the gauntlet for me to figure out a way to invite them over this side of the Midlands 🙂  And thanks must also go to fellow bloggers who made the day such an enjoyable one – Lorna (Irish Farmerette), David (Beyond the Wild Garden), and Sophia and Lisa from Isle Magazine.


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This past weekend has been all about Bloom 2013.  Bloom is Ireland’s biggest gardening and food festival.

We’ve gone to Bloom every year since it started, 7 years ago.  This year we were extremely grateful to recieve a gift of tickets to go on Friday.  We’ve found in past years Thursday or Friday were the best days to go…. as the further it goes into the weekend the bigger the crowds.

So early start and off we headed to Dublin.

Thursday had been a scorcher of a day, so we armed ourselves with sunscreen…. needn’t have bothered the sun never shone on Friday but it didn’t deter us.  In fact it probably made it more pleasant to wander about.

This was as close as we got to sun 🙂


I love the Victorian Walled Garden.  It is such a lovely area.  The affect the weather has had on the growing season was really evident in the Walled Garden – so little flowers compared to last year.  I always use the vegetables in the walled garden as a barometer for how my plants should be!  This year we are all at about the same stage….. the courgettes up there are probably just a little ahead of mine.

Next up it was a visit to the show gardens.  I have to say we were both rather disappointed with the show gardens this year.  Maybe it is a sign of the times?  There seemed to be less gardens.  Woodies had a good display of 3 or 4 suburban gardens.  And, yes, of course there were some lovely elements too.

herbs and lettuce growing on pallet


Loved the use of old pallets…. and the perfume from all those herbs was amazing.

We loved the colour of this garden wall.  Should we paint our yard wall?  Or should we go with the lichen look?

Red wall

Or a lichen covered wall

Maybe I am becoming a more ‘experienced’ gardener, but one thing that struck me was that a lot of the gardens had plantings that were either out of season or would most definitely not grow outdoors in Ireland.  I know, I know it is all about concept…. but come on we need inspiration to be a little real and achievable.

Chillies & Kumquats growing in garden

Chillies & Kumquats

Kumquats and chillies growing outdoors in Ireland?????

I loved this water fountain…. but his nibs says you’d need some water pump to run it…. but I can dream can’t I?  I think it would be a lovely feature in the back yard 🙂

Water fountain

For us the postcard gardens were so much more interesting.  There were some lovely achievable ideas there.

Dee and Sandra

A lovely photo of Dee and Sandra from the Community Garden Network.

The highlights of the day for us….. catching up with friends, lounging on the Elephant seats and chatting with Dee from Greensideup (who was there with the Community Garden Network… look at their yarn wrap garden), and John and Colette from As Seen by C.  Meeting the ‘real’ people behind some twitter names – Peter from Donegan Landscaping and David from Beyond the Wild Garden.

The lowlights…. everything seemed to be crammed in this year.  I don’t know was there more exhibitors or less space.  It was so difficult to find things.

And the PARKING!  We wanted to park in the ‘red’ carpark as research beforehand had indicated it was closest to Entrance 1.  So silly us followed the ‘red’ carparking signs, to only discover that all the carparking signs were red and we had parked in the ‘yellow’ carpark!!! (By the way, there was nothing to indicate that we parked in the ‘yellow’ carpark – it was just a sensible car attendant informed us as such).  We weren’t the only people to be fooled by this… we met others who couldn’t find their car after the event as they too thought they had parked in the ‘red’ carpark!  Dear organisers – it would be simple to use the colour coding on the signage too!


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