Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Tale of Two Gardens...

  I visited, on consecutive days, two of the great gardens of County Wicklow.  The first, the Powerscourt Estate, is famed for it's grand, Italian inspired, classical gardens.

   Statuary, ornate ironwork gates, a spectacular fountains created an almost Versailles-like effect.  It spoke of immense wealth.  So very different from the second garden I visited the next day.

    The Mount Usher Gardens in Ashford is the complete antithesis of Powerscourt.  Here, the design worked with nature and created natural planting areas that invited contemplative strolling.  One didn't get the sensation of Man's heavy hand here.  It was a joint effort in every respect between the designer and nature.

   I honestly have to say that Mount Usher was, by far, my favorite garden and that says something about how I've come to regard the natural landscape through my contemplative photography. 

   This comparison is best view through looking at the two herbaceous borders in the gardens.  At Powerscourt, the flowers seemed secondary to the brick walls and magnificent ironwork gates.  The path was very wide keeping one sequestered from the beds.  It was a path for groups to "promenade" I felt, more interested in their conversation than the flowers.

   It is said to be the longest herbaceous border in Ireland and that, I think was the point of it.  It was a very strong statement by the owner.

   The Mount User border had a straight path as well but it was very narrow and the plants spilled out of their beds...reaching out to the passerby.  It was a walk to linger on and interact with the flowers on a very personal level and I noticed more people did that here than at Powerscourt.

   Instead of a rigid brick all with an ornate gate, this garden used an ancient hedge with a tiny opening sculpted out of it for the visitor to pass through.

   Two very different approaches to the landscape I thought.  I could tell by my reactions to both that it told me that I may admire the skill and art of Powerscourt, from a distance, but I could embrace and fall in love with Mount Usher.

Note: My first post as "Pilgrim in Residence" at A Sacred Journey is up. You can read it here. There will be a new one each Wednesday this month. I hope you stop by this wonderful site.

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