Light and Shade by Turn but Love Always

Light and shade by turn but love always are the words engraved on the Temple at Mount Congreve Garden. As I read them this morning, they seemed to sum up every emotion I was feeling.

Today, May 24th, is my son’s nineteenth birthday; it also marks the last day I saw my late parents together as they sat in their porch at sundown in 2009; and it is the anniversary of the death of Ambrose Congreve who died, aged 104, in 2011.

Yes, life is full of light and shade; joy and sadness; and love is what we need to sustain and nurture us through the rough and the smooth.

Today, I feel especially grateful to Ambrose Congreve for creating a garden which brings such peace and allows for such connection and reflection. My parents adored Mount Congreve and it is a place in which I have shared many, many precious hours with my son.

Here are some of the key images that particularly captivated me in Mount Congreve today as they seemed to highlight themes around the seasonality of life, lives well spent, and, of course, love:







Mount Congreve on my Mind ~ Gatherings from Ireland #149

This week (May 24th) marked the second  anniversary  of the death of  Ambrose Congreve, aged 104, who developed the world famous Mount Congreve Gardens which are just a few miles from Waterford City.

Anyone who follows this blog will already know that Mount Congreve Gardens have a very special place in my heart, going right back to my childhood. I had been so, so looking forward to visiting them on the first Thursday in April to witness Spring in all its natural glory but , alas, they didn’t re-open as negotiations are ongoing  with the Office of Public Works to try to make Ambrose Congreve’s wish to leave the Gardens to the people of Ireland a reality.

It is hard to describe the yearning that I feel to be able to walk around Mount Congreve again. Somehow the blooming of the single rhododendron that lives in my back garden is serving as a reminder of the incredible beauty that defines Mount Congreve.

I hope with all my heart that the negotiations are brought to a satisfactory conclusion as soon as possible as it is unbearable to think of  such a jewel of Ireland ~ that exudes the very best of nature, colour and sheer passion being locked up, especially when I know it has to be way beyond stunning with that wonderful collection of rhododendrons at their peak this very day!

Ambrose Congreve Remembered with Thanks

Ambrose Congreve, who lovingly established the world-renowned Mount Congreve Gardens in Co. Waterford died on May 24th last year, aged 104. By coincidence, I had visited the Gardens just a day or two before he died and wrote my own personal tribute to him then.

He has been on my mind a good deal over the last year and in the days and weeks following his death, I felt a haunting sadness whenever I passed the closed gates of Mount Congreve which is only about 5 miles from my home in Tramore. I was also jolted a few months ago by finding a black and white photograph among my late father’s collection of my sister and I sitting on the grass by the magnificent greenhouse at Mount Congreve back when I was about six and my sister eleven. I looked at that photograph for a long time and thought of the immense love my parents had for Mount Congreve and how my mother, especially, treasured the fact that it is a woodland garden full of wildflowers as well as the marvellous collection of trees and perennials.

All Winter, I looked forward to the re-opening of the Gardens for this season, gardens which Ambrose Congreve left in Trust for the people of Ireland. I wondered how it would be to return, knowing that Ambrose Congreve, had passed on.

I needn’t have worried. As ever, there was a friendly smile and welcome waiting at the entrance to the Gardens which are open each Thursday. Just as Ambrose Congreve wanted, there was no entry fee and it was so clear that those who were welcoming visitors were passionate about the Garden and its future.

Walking through the Garden, there was a wonderful sense of calm and absolute reassurance. Yes, the bluebells were in full bloom, carpetting the woodland and the trees and vast collection of rhododendrons, magnolias, azeleas … were sparkling with freshness, hope and colour. It was as if they were proudly displaying the heart and passion of Ambrose Congreve and keeping his memory alive.

Much of the talk in recent weeks has been on the forthcoming auction of art and antiques from Mount Congreve House and I read today that the first auction will take place in London next Wednesday, May 23rd.

It seems so fitting that Ambrose Congreve’s first anniversary falls on a Thursday – the one day of the week that Mount Congreve Gardens are currently open. I have a feeling that the sun will be beaming down and that the colours and scents will exude more than ever. I, for one, hope to be there to witness that wonder and whisper my thanks for this great gift that Ambrose Congreve brought to Ireland and has bequeathed to us.