Woodstock gardens

Secrets

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 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 🙂

Sequoia

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 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.

2013-05 024

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

Inistioge

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!

Photography: May 2003-2014

A challenge for the readers: Go through your photographs and choose one that was taken in May and has a story.

There are my pictures.

2003 the ring of kerry  May 2003. Waterville, The Ring of Kerry. Two friends and I went for a drive, and it was a very fun trip, great seafood and stunning scenery. Almost all my pictures from this trip are gone. My friends are gone too… It seems like it was a thousand years ago…

2004 lisdowney May 2004. Lisdowney, Co Kilkenny. The story behind this picture is so sad that I won’t write it. Not now.

2005 waterfordMay 2005. Waterford, Old bridge. I used to hike two hours every day, and very often I discovered something stunning. The middle part of this old bridge was dismounted, but it still looked magnificent. I took many pictures, and was about to get off the bridge when I heard voices beneath. It is a remote place, and I didn’t feel safe, plus it was actually prohibited to walk on the bridge… So I just sat there and waited. It came out that two guys were looking for a place to drink their beer and have a chat. When they settled, I sneaked off the bridge and quietly left. Got some adrenalin:)

2006 waterfordMay 2006. Waterford. Stoney Steps. This was my favorite place when living in Waterford, and I took a lot of pictures here. I got a hard drive crash in May 2006, it is why I have just a few pictures left from this months, mostly  streets and buildings.

2007 delicate archMay 2007. Moab, Delicate Arch. Thanks to my daughter and son-in-law I finally visited this beauty. Moab is a marvelous place, and I have hundreds of photographs, but if I have to choose one, let it be the Delicate Arch:)

2008 lake powellMay 2008. Lake Powell, AZ. Rainbow bridge. This was my daughter’s graduation trip. We traveled five days and covered a large area with the most beautiful scenery ever. Why I have chosen this particular picture? When we hiked to the Rainbow bridge my daughter made us stop and said that now she’s going to sing Somewhere Over The Rainbow. And she sang…

comeraghsMay 2009. Comeragh Mountains, Clonmel. This is my favorite spot. Every time I hike I stop here to have a lunch and rest my feet. There is actually a bog all around, but this place is unusually dry and quiet. I have discovered the shortest way how to get there, and I have never run into anybody on my path hidden in rhododendron growth (people usually struggle their way up to the Holy Cross).

filipMay 2010. I have many pictures taken that May, but I want to share this one of the most beautiful creature, Filip, my sweetheart whom I knew since he was as big as a pencil. Last time I saw him in Reptile Village, Co Kilkenny, but he might be already in Dublin Zoo.

infantMay 2011. That May my daughter gave  birth to a beautiful girl. Love my sunshine!

st patricks wellMay 2012. It was a very exciting month, my kids came over and we did some traveling together. In this picture my big girl is exploring the old church at St Patrick’s Well, Clonmel, Co Tipperary.

inistiogeMay 2013. Inistioge bridge, Co Kilkenny. This is a classic image. Everybody who has been to the Woodstock Gardens in Inistioge has this image. When you drive up the hill it is easy to see the spot even if nobody is parked there: all the grass is gone on this side of the road. It is the only sign, otherwise you can miss the spot easy, it is not marked. I looked forward to visiting the famous Monkey Puzzle alley, but unfortunately since my last visit in 2005 half of the trees had fallen, probably because of their old age…

 May 2014. Next week:)

Photography tip of the day: don’t be afraid to crop your pictures for different effects, but always retain your original.

inesemj_photographyHave a great day!