A woodland haven in Tipp with 40,000 plant species
It is medically proven that a walk among trees lowers blood pressure and reduces stress levels. This is just one of the reasons why I take every opportunity to visit gardens and arboretums, for apart from the pleasure of such walks, they help distract me from thinking about the proposed cuts to the agricultural budget and what this might mean for the future of farming and forestry.
Recently, I found myself in Dundrum, Co Tipperary, strolling through the wonderful Celtic Plantarum that was established 25 years ago by Peter Alley.
There are roughly 40,000 trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants in its eight acres with more than 2km of winding paths, two lakes and numerous reconstructed features representing Ireland's ancient past including a delightful crannog built on an island on one of the lakes.
Peter said the plantarum contains possibly the largest selection of hardy outdoor plants in Ireland and during the walk, one is met by a host of unusual, attractive and cleverly positioned plant species and built features.
Located on what was originally a wet area that contained some Norway Spruce, willow and alder, the entire woodland garden is now well established and is an education in good design, showing how virtually any section of land can be used to enhance the landscape and make leisure areas that require little maintenance.
It is well worth visiting just to see how one can turn neglected farmland or one's own woodland into a place for relaxation or a valuable tourist amenity.
Few of us have the resources to create anything on the scale of what is on view in Dundrum but we can all benefit from seeing how the different species interact, where to place them and how, once established, they require the minimum of care.
Peter is retiring from forestry after a lifetime working with trees that originally began with the Department of Lands.