How the seasons pass

I love gardening. I could sit and look at my wife hoeing and mowing all afternoon – on summer days I’ve even known to sit back with my Pimms cocktail in hand and offer the odd encouraging word.

She should complain though at the heavy lifting in our 100ft back garden, Alex Slazenger has 47 acres to maintain just down the road on Powerscourt Estate.

Alex is laid up though at the moment, having broken some bones in his foot, not in the gardens, but from rising sharply from his seat at home while tending to his kids.

He is going stir crazy, it is Spring and he wants to get out into his gardens with his five-man team, and who could blame him?

Powerscourt Gardens are one of the country’s greatest and most visited attractions, voted No. 3 in the world’s top ten gardens by National Geographic.

I have been here many times, my wife likes to shop in Avoca in the house.

Today, though, we are privileged to be getting a personal tour of the house with its 800 years of history – a fire gutted much of the interior in 1974 but it was meticulously restored and was opened to the public 21 years ago by President McAleese – and the gardens.

You can take a 90-minute 1.5km Garden of the Gods General Adult Tour which includes 22 stops, or opt for the shorter 60-minute eight-stop family action quest.

And that was when it was all trimmed: Back in the day

In the best hands, and Powerscourt couldn’t be under better care tight Alex, gardens are a natural playground.

The grotto, amid the Japanese Gardens, is the oldest part of the gardens and takes my eye, possibly as I’m told that this was where the Viscounts and their friends would come to party.

One can imagine too that this must have been a magical place to grow up, playing tag between the statues of Apollo Belvedere and Diana in the Italian Gardens, filled by the 6th and 7th Lord Powerscourt from their travels to the great gardens of Europe, Versailles and the Schonbrunn.

Or play hide and seek behind some of the oldest trees – and definitely the tallest – in the country.

It is doggie heaven too, and our guide, the charming and encyclopaedic Gill takes her Labrador, or perhaps her Lab takes her, down through the 240-year-old Bamberg Gate to the River Dargle.

The most poignant memorial is the pets’ cemetery, the oldest in Ireland, along the Rhodedendron walk.

One can only think doggy heaven has to go some to better this.

My wife is dragging me away too, we have had our picture taken, of course, in front of the Triton Fountain and its winged horses, the centrepiece of the Gardens, and modelled on Bernini’s Triton Fountain in Rome, and she wants to catch the shops before they close.

We leave with a jacket – she picks one for me not unlike one that Monty Don were.

This summer she’ll be drinking the Pimms in our mini-Powercourt Garden and I’ll be doing the hoeing and mowing.

This article was first published in the Irish Daily Mail.

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