Yesterday I decided to drive about 40 miles to a beautiful garden that is one of my favorites. The drive took about an hour and a half over narrow old roads, past prosperous farms where sheep, cows and horses grazed. It was beautiful! The weather here has been really cold and sometimes rainy all week so I’ve been hibernating. It felt good to be out. In Ireland now all the new leaves are popping out, their bright yellow-green adding another hue to the hundreds of shades of green for which Ireland is so well known. Sometimes the country roads are lined on both sides with trees that overarch the road. The picture below is not one I took yesterday but will illustrate for you a typical country road in Eire.
My destination was Altamont Gardens, now owned by the Irish government. A woman named Corona North inherited the large house and gardens and dedicated her life to making them lovelier. The big pink mansion has been vacant since Ms. North’s death in 1999 but the gardens have been beautifully maintained according to her wishes. (Read about Corona North and Altamont in her obituary in the Irish Independent here. She was a strong, perhaps head-strong, woman.)
The gardens at Altamont include two wide rows of narcissus (daffodils). An effort has been made to have some of every known variety. They bloom from early February to May, and I was late seeing them this year, which is why I went there on a cold and windy day. The other highlight of Altamont is the one-acre lake covered in lily pads. Yesterday I found a very large swan there, apparently alone.
The walk around the lake is lined with old trees and shrubs, many of them planted there in the 19th century. A path leads down some stone stairs to a walk along the quiet river.
I was the only person visiting Altamont on a wet, cold day. It was heavenly to have the gardens to myself — just me and the peacocks and the swan and the cows!