There Is Always the Garden (2/3)

21 May 2013, Tuesday

Just as I was thinking I was done at Glasnevin Cemetery, Gerry rang. He was just leaving work, having gotten off a little earlier than expected. So with my little map in hand—turn left out of the cemetery onto Finglas Road; bear left at the V onto Prospect Avenue (remember, the cemetery was originally called Prospect Cemetery); then turn left onto Botanic Road and follow the signs—I headed to the National Botanic Gardens. (You can read the first post for this day—about the cemetery—here.)

I love our backyard garden at home—it’s like a little piece (and peace!) of heaven. I love strolling around it early in the morning. “When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy,” poet Minnie Aumonier wrote, “there is always the garden.” Truer words were never spoken.

The sun had come out and the day had become quite lovely … which meant I wasn’t the only one who thought a stroll in a garden was a good idea. It was 11:30—lunchtime for a lot of folks—and the parking lot was full. (Next time I think I’ll come right when the gardens open at nine o’clock.) But I quickly learned to think like a Dubliner: I’d passed a spot that was posted for official vehicles only to see someone else park there as I circled back around (having found nothing else), so I squeezed into a spot where none was intended (someone else had done it too). The Yankee rule-follower in me was squeamish … but I only had an hour!

Did I say it was a beautiful day? It was. I turned and looked back in the direction of the cemetery and was rewarded with a view of the O’Connell monument. I wasn’t kidding when I used the word adjacent in my last post—the cemetery is right next door.

The round tower atop the O’Connell crypt in Glasnevin Cemetery, seen from the National Botanic Gardens.

The round tower atop the O’Connell crypt in Glasnevin Cemetery, seen from the National Botanic Gardens.

I headed in to the visitor centre to see about admission costs, and was quickly charmed by the border plants.

There were several color variations of these.

There were several color variations of these. The little white puffy flowers were so perfect and perky they almost seemed fake. I can’t explain it, really.

Ah! I’m a sucker for a pink flower.

Ah! I’m a sucker for a pink flower.

No, I have no idea what they are. Does it matter?

No, I have no idea what they are. Does it matter?

Then I was charmed by the words No cost! The National Botanic Gardens are free. Drop by any time. And people do. There were lots of folks in quiet spots with brown-bag lunches and books.

Like this man, in the courtyard of the Alpine House.

Like this man, in the courtyard of the Alpine House.

“If I only have an hour today,” I asked, “what should I do?” The helpful folks in the visitor centre handed me a vistor’s guide and drew a smallish loop on the map. It started at the Alpine house, led past the cherries and the grass garden to the Victorian-era Great Palm House. Oh my.

As you now know, I love a pink flower. These were in the Alpine House of the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin.

As you now know, I love a pink flower. These were in the Alpine House of the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin. Edelweiss, edelweiss …

From the Alpine House of the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin.

From the Alpine House of the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin.

Looking back at the Alpine House.

Looking back at the Alpine House.

Funds for the garden were set aside in 1790 and land in Glasnevin purchased from poet Thomas Tickell; the garden opened in 1795. Today it encompasses more than 48 acres and 20,000 living plants, as well as several greenhouses that are architecturally notable. The garden serves as a center for horticultural research (for example, the potato blight fungus that caused the 1845–1847 famine was identified here, and research to stop the fungus continued throughout that time), as well as plant conservation (the collection of cycads is of international importance).

My path led past the roses …

My path led past the roses … (Not many in bloom yet.)

National Botanic Gardens, Dublin

National Botanic Gardens, Dublin.

My path led past the cherries …

My path led past the cherries … (Seriously, is there anything prettier than a cherry tree in bloom?)

To a pretty meadow of grasses and wildflowers …

To a pretty meadow of grasses and wildflowers …

I have no idea what kind of tree this is, but it was huge.

I have no idea what kind of tree this is, but it was huge.

They were all huge.

They were all huge. (Those are not children’s benches!)

Spring was very late here. It was late at home—still cold in early May!—and here in Dublin in late May it was also chilly. Plants that might have been well up in a normal year were still just thinking about it when I was there.

Like these grasses.

Like these grasses. (See the size of those benches here?)

No matter where I was, though, it was impossible to take my eye off the Great Palm House. Built in 1884, the building underwent a lengthy restoration (during which it was completely dismantled) in 2002–2003; it reopened in 2004. (You can read more about that here.) In 2005 the Palm House won the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award. (You can read more here and here.) It’s really something.

The Great Palm House, built in 1884.

The Great Palm House, built in 1884.

And then I arrived. You must enter the Palm House through the small greenhouses on either side: the cactus house or the orchid house. (I did not go into the orchid house; if I had I might still be there.)

I entered through the cactus house. It’s interesting to see the Palm House from this angle, I think.

I entered through the cactus house. It’s interesting to see the Palm House from this angle, I think.

A cactus in bloom.

A cactus in bloom.

Oh, what a sight! (And oh, how warm it was! My glasses fogged right up.)

The Great Palm House, National Botanic Gardens, Dublin. Starting at ground level and looking up in three shots. (1)

Inside the Great Palm House, National Botanic Gardens, Dublin. Starting at ground level and looking up in three shots. (1)

Those are banana plants, I think. (2)

Those are banana plants, I think. (2)

Have a good look at the architecture. (3)

Have a good look at the architecture. (3)

Those Victorians were quite clever.

The warm air blows up out of these walkways.

The warm air blows up out of these walkways.

It was a brilliant day.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a glass house this large. It was a brilliant day.

The Great Palm House, National Botanic Gardens, Dublin.

The Great Palm House, National Botanic Gardens, Dublin.

I was particularly taken by this beautiful plant. Be sure to zoom in so you can see the delicate red edging on the leaves.

I was particularly taken by this beautiful plant. Be sure to zoom in so you can see the delicate red edging on the leaves.

I’d been told that the tulips were “almost gone,” but if this is almost gone, I’ll take it! I would call this array spectacular. Sure, they were at the end of the cycle that had started with a tight little bud; these flowers are fully open. I think they were at their peak that day—perfection.

Tulips enclosed with beautiful annuals that will look good long afgter the tulips have faded.

Tulips planted with beautiful annuals that will look good long after the tulips have faded.

Just … wow.

Just … wow.

What a gorgeous vista this is! That’s the director’s home tucked back there on the left.

What a gorgeous vista this is! That’s the director’s home tucked back there on the left. (Don’t forget you can click to zoom in.)

As you might guess, these were my favorites. Pink and cream tulips!

As you might guess, these were my favorites. Pink and cream tulips!

Again, this is the director’s home. Can you imagine having the National Botanic Gardens as your yard? Black tulips! (And best of all, someone else to keep it neat and trimmed.)

Again, this is the director’s home. Can you imagine having the National Botanic Gardens as your yard? With black tulips! (And best of all, someone else to keep it weeded and trimmed.)

Standing by the tulips, I turned around to take another look at the Great Palm House. It’s intriguing from every angle, I think.

Standing by the tulips, I turned around to take another look at the Great Palm House. It’s intriguing from every angle, I think.

Almost time to go. I’m standing by the visitor centre.

Almost time to go. I’m standing by the visitor centre.

I’d reached my hour; it was time to go. Just a moment to fill up my eyes …

This is the curvilinear glasshouse range, built piecemeal from 1843–1869. It was restored in the 1990s. I only made it up as far as the bed of alliums you see on the right-hand side of this photo.

This is the curvilinear glasshouse range, built piecemeal from 1843–1869. It was restored in the 1990s. I only made it up as far as the bed of alliums you see on the right-hand side of this photo. I’ll have to come back.

You can see more of the curvilinear range at the back of this photo—it’s very large—but I was really just dazzled by the three huge trees here.

You can see more of the curvilinear range at the back of this photo—it’s very large—but I was really just dazzled by the three huge trees here.

Did you notice this bronze sculpture in the previous photo? It’s called “Best Night Ever” and is by Bob Quinn. You can read more about it here.

Did you notice this bronze sculpture in the previous photo? It’s called “Best Night Ever” and is by Bob Quinn. You can read more about it here.

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On my way out … one last look.

Now it was 12:30 and the garden was very busy: moms pushing baby carriages, older folks strolling, working people enjoying lunch. Some walkers, some book-readers. Next time—and I must come back—I’ll come early.

And the day’s only half over! There’s one more part still to come …

5 thoughts on “There Is Always the Garden (2/3)

  1. Pingback: There’s a Lot of History in a Cemetery (1/3) | Wanderlustful

  2. I’m fascinated by the enormous, restored glasshouse, and its’ restoration. There seem to be few of them left, for all the reasons stated in the informative link, and most were taken down when the technology to repair and restore them, after more than a century, had not yet been developed. It’s magnificent! The gardens will be a treat to see each season.

  3. Pingback: An Afternoon Adventure. Sort Of. (3/3) | Wanderlustful

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