My Garden of Eden, Mount Congreve, is closing on Sunday for the Winter. As regulars here on Social Bridge will know, the world famous garden, which is just a few miles out the road from Tramore, is a precious haven of mine.
I’m very fortunate to have been able to visit Mount Congreve every week throughout the season and savour its ever-changing colour and light.
Today was bliss but tinged with a sense of melancholy as I wandered through the walled garden and then the glorious woodlands. Much has happened in the period since the Gardens opened back in March and I’ve done a lot of contemplating, celebrating and pure ‘being’ in this place that never, ever fails to bring colour, calm and awe to my mind and heart.
Here’s a glimpse of what drew my eyes out there this morning on one of those ‘pet’ days that you always hope for as September draws to a close in Ireland:
I’m not a person who obsesses about the weather. My philosophy is that if you live in Ireland you’ve got to accept that the weather is changeable, that we’ve no control over it, and that there’s beauty to be found in all weathers.
There’s something lovely about going out in the Summer rain and listening to the raindrops plopping down on big leafy trees. Oh, and what about the smell of rain ~ what’s that fancy word ~ ‘petrichor.’
Well, I took myself off to Mount Congreve on Saturday morning in the pours of rain to savour the magic and here’s what was waiting for me:
There’s a place by the Summer House in Mount Congreve Garden that I like to call my own and last season I used to sit on one of the trunks of many trees that had been blown down in some of the worst storms we’d had here in Ireland for years.
It’s a quiet part of the Garden and when I went over there the other day, I was bracing myself to find that my tree trunk would have been cleared away.
It came as a great surprise to find that it had been carved to make a little seat and that it is clearly there to stay.
This may seem like a small thing; it is a small thing but small things can bring immense joy.
This is where I intend to spend many, many hours over the next few months; writing, thinking, picnicking, sun-bathing, maybe even blogging!
What small things have made YOU glow with gratitude in recent times?
Yesterday I got to go back to Mount Congreve, which is my Garden of Eden. It’s just a few miles from Tramore and has opened again for this season.
Mount Congreve is beyond special to me and it has probably inspired more posts on this blog than anywhere else. It’s a place that stretches back to my childhood as we used to visit when I was a kid and then in recent years I’ve been going at least once a week during the season which lasts from now until we get to soak in the Autumn tints.
I die a little each year when Mount Congreve closes for the Winter and from late January onward I can feel a growing sense of anticipation as I look forward to making my grand return.
The weather was perfect yesterday ~ blue skies, warm sun and the peace, calm and tranquility that Mount Congreve always rains down on me. I can honestly say that if I was told I had only a day or two to live that Mount Congreve would be the top inland place that would call me.
It was so reassuring to reach the lovely wrought iron gate at the end of the woodland garden that has the heart which always warms mine.
The splendour of Mount Congreve is almost overwhelming, especially with the blaze of colour it always presents.
As yet another season begins, I simply have to say a loving ‘Thank You’ to Mr. Ambrose Congreve (1907-2011) for leaving this wonderful Garden to the people of Ireland. What an inheritance!
And here’s how the Temple looked yesterday as it gazed down on the River Suir making its way towards Waterford City.
Mount Congreve Gardens served up special beauty on its last open days for this season.
Standing deep in the woods, I was treated to this piece of abstract art that has been shimmering around in my mind.
It seems all the more poignant today as I’ve just come back from visiting a life long friend who has dementia. Her short term memory may be impaired but so much of her layered essence remains. Her smile, her voice, her sense of fun, her memories of days we shared and most of all the feel of her hand in mine.
I guess everyone deals with anniversaries of death in different ways and I suspect that for most people the number of anniversaries that truly penetrate the heart is very limited.
My father’s anniversary is one of those which has huge significance for me. He died on September 10th, 2010 and yesterday all I wanted to do was to feel as close as I possibly could to him. I’d done all in my power to keep the day as clear as I could but I had no specific plans for what I’d do.
It proved to be one of the most beautiful days of the year here in Co. Waterford with the gentlest light you could possibly imagine. It’s always been important to me to be somewhere that he and I loved at 10.57 a.m. the time he died (and also my birth date, something that he would have pounced on with his fascination for numbers.)
I just sat into the car and let instinct drive. At 10.57, I was walking Kilfarrassy Beach ~ a beach where we spent so much time as kids and where Dad and I whiled away many hours chatting and watching the waves in the final years of his long life.
It never occurred to me on September 10, 2010 that the natural world, which Dad loved so much, could possibly be bursting with colour, vibrancy and continuity. Nor did I envisage that a time could ever come when I would stand in the presence of nature on his anniversary and feel a true sense of celebration ~ celebration of a life well spent, a father/daughter relationship filled with trust, empathy, fun, shared interests and unconditional love.
Instinct drove me out along the Copper Coast, into the picturesque village of Kill with its aptly named, Happy Days, shop where I bought a picnic lunch that had to include a Waterford ‘blaa’ (type of bread roll) and a little Cadbury’s snack bar like the ones Dad always seemed to have hidden away, just in case!
Onwards to Mount Congreve Garden which was like The Garden of Eden.
Yes, ‘Light and shade by turn but love always.’
And how better to round off the day than with a swim at sundown at Garrarus Beach with son, Harry, who seems to have inherited many of Dad’s traits, especially his passion for nature, sport and his hearty laugh.
There’s an apple tree of the ‘Discovery’ variety just inside the walled garden of Mount Congreve and every single time I pass it, I stop and ponder.
Life is all about discovery and being open to discovering. I love this quote about ‘discovery’ from Isaac Newton:
I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only a child playing on the seashore while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
I’ve always loved reading about great discoverers but I’m coming to realise more and more that what may be perceived as tiny, everyday discoveries can be hugely significant.
This morning, I met what felt like ‘Black Monday’ when I was out for my constitutional with Puppy Stan She was well dressed, wearing dark glasses and passed within about two feet of us on the path. I said a cheery ‘hello’ and she walked by us as if we weren’t there.
My gut instinct was to turn round and shout after her:
“Hey, it wouldn’t have killed you to at least acknowledge my presence. I am the only other person around here right now.”
But, I kept my thoughts to myself and decided that maybe she was so preoccupied with some burning issue that she hadn’t even seen us or heard me.
Perhaps I’ll meet her again tomorrow or the next day and maybe, just maybe I’ll ‘discover’ the true story behind ‘Black Monday’ because there simply has to be one.