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Fota Island, near Cobh, Co.Cork

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 11:53 pm    Post subject: Fota Island, near Cobh, Co.Cork Reply with quote

Even before you read this article, check links like the above or use the google feature rof this site. There are a couple of Fota photos (sorry couldn't resist the pun) by a member "davidnugent". Look em up.

Fota Island Arboretum has a world-famous collection of trees and shrubs. Forming part of the ornamental grounds of a splendid Regency mansion, this arboretum together with a water garden, rock garden and a walled Italian garden is filled with plants from all over the world, especially Chinese and South American species, and benefits enormously from a mild and sheltered micro-climate. A magnificent demesne park surrounds the house and gardens and occupies the whole of the 780 acre Fota The gardens were begun in 1825 when John Barry-Smith, a descendant of the Earls of Barrymore (who held this island from the twelfth century) commissioned Richard Morrison and his son Vitruvius to transform an old hunting box into his principal Irish residence.

The Morrisons were responsible for the ancillary buildings and probably also helped with the initial garden layout and demesne park, whose surrounding walls and plantations were largely created at this time. The spreading lawns and Walled Garden, with its rusticated piers and wrought-iron gates, belong to John Barry-Smith's time, but it was his son James Hugh Barry-Smith who was responsible for creating the famous arboretum in the 1840s. He constructed the Fernery and the Water Garden by reclaiming a large area of boggy ground, and the Orangery and Temple soon followed. James Hugh disliked the damp climate and spent little time in Ireland. However, his son Arthur, who became the first (and last) Lord Barrymore, devoted himself to Fota.

With the help of his gardener William Osbourne, he laid the basis of the famous collection of trees and shrubs that it now contains. Lord Barrymore's work was continued by his son-in-law and daughter, Major and Honourable Mrs Dorothy Bell. They continued planting here until the late 1960s, adhering faithfully to the old gardening traditions. Amongst the original plantings at Fota is a marvellous Lebanese cedar planted in 1825 and under-carpeted with cyclamen. It stands on the lawn opposite the gate to the Walled Garden, where a magnificent specimen of Magnolia grandiflora 'Goliath' shades a charming little temple. The magnolias are one of Fota's special features. It's most famous specimen is a now seventy-five-foot tall M. campbellii planted in 1872. It bears beautiful large pink flowers and traditionally says it is at its loveliest on St Patrick's Day.

The Fernery, essentially a large rockery planted with smaller ferns, saxifrages and Solomon's seal with huge fronds of Dicksonia antarctica hanging overhead, is a lush, green haven. Though not part of the arboretum, it is worth visiting, as is the pond with its little island and bordering of arum and white and pink lilies floating on the surface. The Fota trees distinguish this garden above all. A towering Sequoia dominates the whole arboretum. Beautiful weeping spruces, silver firs, a Drimys winteri (said to have originated from seed collected by Elwes in the Andes in 1902), a colossal fern-leafed beech, massive Lomatias and exceptional specimens of melaleuca and pseudopanax also take pride of place. Shooting upwards, a Phyllocladus trichomanoides from New Zealand, planted in 1941, is now twenty-two-feet high, the tallest in the British Isles. A Cryptomeria japonica 'Spiralis', planted in 1852 just ten years after its introduction, is the tallest of its kind in Europe. A huge Parrotia persica dates from 1902; a Torreya californica planted in 1852 is now 35 feet high; a large and very striking Davidia involucrata vilmoriniana came from China; a charming Dacrydium franklinii from Tasmania, planted in 1855, is now, 28 feet tall and is the largest in the British Isles. Fota is 9 miles east of Cork on the Cobh Road.

Last edited by walltoall on Fri Apr 03, 2009 11:12 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Its a great place,well worth a visit.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I visited Fota when it opened to the public first and a lot of the grounds were overgrown and the orangery was in ruins. Over the years we have seen the huge improvements and work that has gone into making it the beautiful place it is today and it is easy to imagine it as it was when it was a family estate.
The wildlife park is a great day out for the whole family but the gardens can be visited separately for a small fee , bring a picnic ! I live a few miles from it so can visit often.

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