Made a very enjoyable visit today to the Ballymaloe Cookery School Gardens (and Farm Shop). Arches of traditional varieties of apple, with a few hens and cocks resting and scratching, lead you on the way.
Highlights for me were the Herb Garden and the Herbaceous Border. Other gardens are the vegetable garden, the fantastic Maze (planted in 1996) and the Pleasure Garden (with trees, bigger shrubs and a pond with fountain).
There are over 70 varieties of herbs in the garden, laid out in a formal parterre edged with box hedges. Plenty of fresh herbs then for Ballymaloe House and Cafe but it was an old-timer Sage that caught my eye. This knurled specimen (photo) must have been over twenty years old.
The herbaceous Border is almost worth the €6.50 entrance fee on its own. Planted in 1996, it has thrived here, though not without a great deal of care and attention. Here, deep borders of fabulous perennials and grasses make it one of the very best of its type.
At the end of the border is the Shell House, with shell decoration by artist Blott Kerr-Wilson. Unfortunately, the door was bolted and I had to take my picture through the glass. Still, you get some idea of the intricacy of her work. I forgot to ask on the way out about the closure (temporary or permanent).
NOTE 10.11.10: Blott Kerr-Wilson has been in touch and you may see much better pictures of the shell house on her site here.
Did call to the shop and picked up a few of Darina's products. Disappointingly, while the gardens belong to the famous cooking school, there is no cafe in this location, that being a mile or two away alongside Ballymaloe House.
The entrance to the gardens is via the road opposite the church in Shanagarry. All the details at www.cookingisfun.ie