Woodstock garden

My heart goes out to the people of Italy affected by the tragic earthquake. It is heartbreaking to see the devastation and loss of life. My deepest sympathy and love to you, brothers and sisters.

Some places have their secrets. When you take a road up the hill to the Woodstock gardens, Inistioge, you have these bushes and trees on your left, and you don’t expect anything else to be there. Then suddenly there is a gap between the trees through which you see the river Nore and the bridge, and the whole world behind them, just for a second, and you keep driving, stunned, unsure if it was for real.

Woodstock is a place loaded with history. This is a ten years old photograph from the gardens. I wonder how many secrets were shared while walking under the canopy of the Yew trees.

Woodstock gardens

Famous Noble Fir Walk in 2005. Not all the trees survived the devastating storm in 2014 when Woodstock gardens lost 120 trees altogether. This alley feels like a temple.

Woodstock gardens

The gardens are designed to surprise. As you walk, there is a surprise or a hidden secret around the next corner… like the Monkey Puzzle Walk that was initially planted in 1845. Historical estate drainage system made it possible for these trees to grow in the area, but they obviously cannot reach their expected age of 1000 years.  Recently, many young Araucaria araucana trees were brought from Italy and planted to replace the fallen giants. Araucarias can be traced back to the Mesozoic era, and they know all the secrets of the dinosaurs.  Araucaria araucana is native to the Andes, and was introduced to Europe in the end of the 18th century. It got its name Monkey Puzzle from a gardener in Cornwall. This magnificent Monkey Puzzle Walk  is  the oldest and longest in Europe. There are some other tranquil walks in the wooden area of Woodstock I have yet to explore, and I also want to see the 300 years old Oak trees that grew there long before Woodstock estate was developed.

Woodstock gardens

I love Poppy flowers. I marvel at the way their petals are crumpled in the bud, at their elegant fruit with its beautiful cap (stigma disk, unusual in the blossom world), and seed chambers. When I grew up, we had plenty of opium poppies in our backyard garden. The seeds were collected and used for poppy seed muffins and other pastry, so they were considered food, and using the flowers as princesses and cutting the pods to learn their anatomy was not approved. Still, if we happened to live in some other country, like Australia or the USA, we might end up in jail for cultivating a source of drugs 🙂 . Sigh.

I took pictures of these beautiful poppy blossoms in the Woodstock walled garden. I haven’t seen a humble opium poppy for years, but on a few occasions I enjoyed a slice of poppy seed roll. These gorgeous cousins of opium poppy took me back to the happy days of the flower princesses and simple pleasures of my childhood.

Here is an Old World Poppy Seed Roll recipe.

Woodstock gardens date to the 1740’s. The restoration works that started in 1998 are slow, but steady. I will visit the gardens again and post more pictures in the future. Besides the walled garden, there are rose garden, rockery garden, conservatory, many woodland walks, and many secrets I have to learn.

Exochorda (Pearlbush) and Rhododendron – two beautiful shrubs in bloom. Exochorda, native to China, was introduced in Europe in the 19th century.

Giant Sequoia and Japanese Thuja – straight and crooked 🙂


Japanese Thuja

If you are interested in the history of Woodstock and surrounding lands, you can find more in this article. The history and the people of  Woodstock are very interesting to learn about.

In 1737, the twenty-six-year-old Sir William Fownes inherited the estate and commissioned an elegant mansion, completed in 1745. His only daughter Sarah inherited Woodstock after her parents’ death. She married William Tighe of Rossanagh, member of Parliament, and since then Woodstock House has been the home to the Tighe family.

Richard Tighe crossed the Irish Sea in the 1640s – he was a contractor who supplied Cromwell’s army with bread.  A century later, Jonathan Swift would persecute his grandson Richard ( Dick) with stinging satire under the title of Dick Fitz-Baker. The Privy Councillor Richard Tighe was also called Dick a maggot, Clad all in Brown etc for making a mistake of informing upon Swift’s good friend.

Dick’s son William had three sons William, Edward and Richard, and a daughter Theodosia who became a mother to a romantic poet Mary Tighe. Mary began to write poetry as a child. In 1805, her six-canto Spenserian allegory Psyche was privately printed. Mary died in Woodstock from ‘consumption’. Asthma was hereditary in the Tighe family, as probably was tuberculosis accompanied with depression. Mrs. Tighe used all the profits from Psyche to built and extension to the Orphan Asylum in Wicklow. This article about Mary Tighe is a great read.

Mary married her first cousin, but it is her brother-in-law I want to mention here – William Statistical Tighe. He was so named because he was the author of ‘Statistical observations relating to Co Kilkenny in 1800-1801’. Statistical was one of the wealthiest landowners of that time; he inherited both Woodstock and Rossanagh. He was very well educated and had traveled around Europe and even to Russia. In 1793, Statistical began extensive works at Woodstock house and added two single-story wings.

Edward’s son George Tighe and his wife were good friends with Mary Shelley who adored their daughter Laurette and even wrote a story for her. This story had been lost for 150 years, and finally discovered in 1997 by an Italian lady in an attic of her Tuscan home.

Dick’s eldest grandson William was the one who married Sarah Fownes and started the Tighe dynasty in Woodstock.

Many gardens and walks were added between 1840 and 1900 by another William Tighe and his wife Lady Louisa Lennox. When Lady Louisa was 12 years old, she was allowed to stay with her godfather, the Duke of Wellington, at the Eve-of-Waterloo Ball, and helped him to buckle on his sword when the festivities were terminated with a call to arms. Lady Louisa set up a lace industry in Inistioge, and lived to the remarkable age of 97. She died in Woodstock in 1900.

In 1911, the next heir Edward and his wife Viola Tighe lost their seven years old son to asthma. The grief-stricken couple left Woodstock and settled in London. They moved most of the furniture, artworks and family heirlooms to London, except the library. In 1917, Captain Edward Tighe was murdered with a fire poker in their London home. The motive to this murder remains unknown. Their son Bryan was killed in 1940 in the battle of Dunkirk.

In 1921, the Woodstock house was burned to the ground by republican forces. The locals quickly removed whatever was left in the house before the fire started. Most of the library was destroyed in blaze, but the locals saved some old, leather-bound books that were taken away by horse and cart. The fire continued to burn for two days. The East wing of the house survived the fire and the Tighe’s former house keeper lived there for a number of years.

Old Cypress tree stretches its branches to touch the wall. It is unlikely that the tree was there when the house succumbed to the fire. Unlikely but not impossible. What if it was there, a seedling that survived the catastrophe?

Woodstock gardens

The outstretched branch looks somewhat spooky. What is it trying to reach?

Woodstock gardens

And there it is. The big dark secret. Look in the middle window.

Woodstock Gardens

I abandoned my initial plan to walk through the woods to the river Nore and take a picture of the other side of the bridge because I wasn’t sure that the figure in the window wouldn’t follow me. I briskly walked to my car and left.  You might ask why would I want a picture of the other side of the bridge? I already had this one.

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This is why. The sides of the bridge are different! In Inistioge, everything has a secret 🙂


Beautiful ten-arches bridge turns 250 this year. By the way, it is chronicled that a mermaid was found downstream of the bridge in 1118.

That’s enough secrets for today 🙂

inesemjphotographyHave a wonderful weekend!


  1. The trees hold secrets only a few are fortunate to know. My mummy always said to listen to the wind through the trees, and if you concentrate hard enough, they’ll “leaf” you with answers to the mysteries of the universe. 🙂 🌳

    Thank you for your amazing photos of these magical giants. I enjoyed learning about the . Araucarias. 🌼 🌸 💐

    1. Thank you so much for your visit! Your mother sure knows many secrets. I grew up in the forest and can relate.
      Araucarias are often seen in people’s front yards here in Ireland. They have a prehistoric look, especially when young.

  2. Oh, this is perfect. I’ve been itching for a chance to walk through the woods for days, but kids have not allowed much. Your images are a lovely way for me to end my evening. Such forests and flowers…colors I want to embrace with all my senses. Yet another magnificent achievement, my friend! 🙂 xxxx

    1. Thank you so much, Jean! We went to the canyon another day, but with two toddlers and the baby there was very little hiking 🙂 It is almost a month since I am away.
      Thank you again for joining the trip 🙂

  3. Gorgeous captures as always! Hubby and I love walking on these trails. And we’ve started warming up to the idea of walking and hiking and discovering blooms. The blooms look beautiful and I love the picture of the quiet road surrounded by trees on either side.

    1. Thank you for reading, Kev! It is a popular spot for the special event photo sessions – beautiful, mysterious and full of amazing light.

  4. I’m in love with these photographs. I love walking among the trees.. I feel so relaxed when I do that and just looking at your beautiful pictures makes me feel very good. These hidden spots are fabulous. I also love the bridge.. I find the archway bridges always very picturesque. Oh and the poppy.. the poppy is fantastic !

    1. Thank you for stopping by! These are old pictures, I never have time to go and walk around the gardens 🙂 Just wanted to share a bit of history after seeing that strange figure in the window 😉
      I have a soft spot for poppies, one of my favorite plants 🙂

      1. Poppies are so delicate. I just love them as well. I love how wrinkled they are when they bloom 🙂 A bit like us, when we sleep for too long and we have the sheet marks on our face 🙂

  5. Exquisite photographs — and those bowed trees are breathtaking! Thanks for the poppy recipe, Inese. I love poppy seeds. The red poppy flower is a symbol of death, renewal, and life. The seeds are amazing and can remain dormant in the earth for years, but can sense when the soil is ready and will blossom. Smart seeds!

    1. Thank you for stopping by! Yes, we never collected the poppy seeds for planting – our poppies took care of themselves. I didn’t know that the red poppy is a symbol of death and life. Now I love them even more 🙂 Thank you so much again. xx

  6. The tunnel formed by the yew is really impressive, they are very slow-growing trees, I love your beautiful pictures of ancient trees !!
    In my land yew tree is a very appreciated, now there are very few, in ancient times was considered magical among some communities …

    1. Yes, you are right, they are very slow growing. These trees were trimmed, and it upset me because I didn’t see any reason for doing that. The tunnel was so beautiful, and now it has holes all over it.

  7. What a beautiful place. It takes centuries of vision to create such beauty with trees and those who undertake the work don’t see the results of their efforts. I love the generosity of those gifts. Interesting history – you brought the family to life, Inese.

    1. Thank you so much, Diana! It is fascinating to read different records and find these bits and pieces that seem important for my story. Even the fact that Statistical built up two wings that survived the fire seem so meaningful and add to his reputation as a man of vision 🙂

  8. Name dropper… 😉

    … but I hadn’t heard of the Woodstock Gardens, thanks for the new discovery, it looks like a lovely place. And I’m partial to arboretums in any case.

    1. Thank you for stopping by! These pictures were taken on the go. I just wanted to share a piece of history. Some day I will go there for a sole purpose of writing a blog about the trees and the gardens:)

  9. What a marvellous place, Inese. There were many beautiful pictures of trees, but the best bit for me was actually that amazing bridge. As for your shocking past as a poppy grower… 🙂

    1. Haha Bun, yes, I miss the poppies. I think I even had a better night sleep after eating all those pastries 😉 Try the recipe in my link.
      The bridge is unusual indeed. No one knows the reason why it was built that way.

      1. My best guesses about the bridge are that the design was caused by either an architect with a very bad memory or a construction crew with a hangover.

        1. I will keep digging the internet. History is my hobby 🙂 The downstream side of the bridge was based on the design of the Blackfriars Bridge in London. May be this caused some copyright problems?

  10. I think I am breathing JUST having seen your photographs. Any words to describe them would be trite, especially the first one. What a great history too. Thank you my darling for sharing this. I am in awe xx

    1. Thank you so much! I just wanted to share some bits of history and the scary ghost of the house 🙂 The first picture reveals one of the secrets of this place. All those who drive slowly and pay attention have this picture 🙂 xx

      1. Oh your pictures have ghosts, more sad than scary. Kind of wistful. ( Our last house was most interesting that way. I say no more) My overall feeling is that one is there and wouldn’t follow you in any bad way. it might watch you closely– but would probably leave it at that. x

        1. I did blog it guest blog it once Inese, I would have to find the link. But I wasn’t the only one to know there was something wrong with that house. x

          1. Sometimes I think that having a permanent ghost in the house is like having a guard. My friend’s son in seeing shadow people, but I don’t know if they are ghosts or something else. I will check your tags 🙂

          1. Wow, that’s a scary story. Throwing objects is not a nice thing to do even if one is a grumpy ghost. So, the psychic helped him move on and you lived in peace ever after?

        2. We don’t live there now but there wasn’t any more incidents after the psychic came. It was alwsy like living with another person in the house. You just couldn’t see them.

        3. Mind you I am saying that. I once or twice saw an inexplicable shadow and then there was the time I was sitting playing the piano. (And you know that was another thing, I had this red haired pupil and often when she was sat there at the piano something got hauled off the wall.) Anyway I thought I caught sight of a figure right beside the piano out of the corner of my eye in the second before the table lamp flew at me on its cord and smashed. I kid you not, there was no earthly reason for that lamp to move in that way, to break either. There was glass everywhere.

          1. It is amazing how strong was the spirit. I guess he was getting more and more annoyed with each new tenant moving in. He didn’t bother your sister otherwise she would call the psychic years ago, right? He probably hated the music and visitors. I am sure there are many spirits hanging around, but not everyone can see them. I am considering a trip to the haunted house in Co Wexford. No photography there, unfortunately. A friend of mine went there with her boyfriend :

    2. My sister saw him one night. he bothered her too. He bothered women interestingly and he was furious they took out what he regarded as his room when they took down that wall but he then seemed to think it was me who had done it. I never really believed in anything like this till we went there and it was really validation in a way that I never said to anyone either to start with but there, they had experiences too. Interestingly what you say about strong sprit was said by that medium. She said it the instant she stepped in and that he was at her wanting me to go. When she was trying to speak to him…and this sounds daft like I am nuts..but it is the truth, the room got like someone was turning down a light. There was black everywhere. I have never seen anything like it and I hope never to see anything again. It was scary stuff. Enough to convince me about everything

      1. Yet, she wasn’t a very powerful medium, right? Still, he obeyed and left. For me, it means that we can protect ourselves if we learn some basic techniques. When I was young, I have read about the spirits a lot. Some people who care too much about their possessions and are not engaged in any spiritual and mental activity ( don’t read, don’t think much, etc) are helpless after they suddenly die, because they don’t know how to live without their physical bodies. They have difficulties to move on, and can stick to their earthly home for a while. I didn’t believe in all this stuff before I had a powerful experience in 1986. I might write about it some day. You are not nuts at all 🙂

        1. That would fantastic if you did write about it. I think if you have experienced something then you do believe but you also realise that those who have never experienced anything may look at you strangely. That is interesting re why some people stick because they are stuck. x

          1. That story is not about the ghosts. It is about magic, spells, voodoo dolls… These things are quite popular, still. I didn’t believe in any of that until summer 1986.

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