Ballynahinch Castle hotel, Co Galway comprises 700 gorgeous acres of woodlands, rivers and walks. A short walk from the hotel is its Walled Garden, which was originally designed by Rachel Lamb of Rachel Lamb Garden Design and The Garden Supply Company. The maintenance, planting and ongoing design of the walled garden is now part of head gardener Cian Cunniffe’s remit and proof positive a gardener’s work is never done.
He has overseen drainage work, the building of a new greenhouse and potting sheds, the laying and surfacing of an extensive network of paths and kerbing, water and electrical ducting, and the building of a new water feature. During the redevelopment of the walled garden the ground has been made as fertile as possible by incorporating mushroom compost and seaweed and also by sowing the garden with a variety of green manures which add organic matter and nutrients to the soil.
One of Cian’s main projects has been the rebuilding of the original garden walls by south Connemara stone wall builders. These warm stone walls mean a variety of fruit, herbs and vegetables are grown on site throughout the year and used in the Owenmore Restaurant, the Fisherman’s Pub and Ranji Room at Ballynahinch.
In the walled garden there are different points of interest; the greenhouse surrounded by the edible garden, the pleached pyramidal trees underplanted with herbaceous beds, a living archway tunnel with rose bushes, a pergola area and a mixed tree area which is bee and butterfly friendly.
Flowers and plants add height and texture, colour and scent including phlox, lavender, catmint, dahlias, lilies, astilbes, verbenas, geraniums, salvias and a selection of roses. Cian leads regular tours for guests at the hotel (€30), during which he describes his
daily routine and some of his recent tasks including installing lighting in the garden, extending the herbaceous planting, and planting perennial vegetables such as asparagus.
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