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A haven of peace and tranquility,

Monday, May 10, 2010

Glensallagh: A brief introduction

Glensallagh was a 47-acre farm, (25 acres of grazing and the rest "Good for rock outcrop" in Charlie Macarthy's happy phrase!) up until 1991 when I acquired the place. It is situated on the south-facing slope of the Mizen Peninsula, just off the Bantry road from Ballydehob. It’s a very long narrow strip of land running east to west.

The EU kindly provided a forestry grant and the whole place, wherever practical, with one or two exceptions, was planted with 18,000 trees, 12,000 English Oak, Red Oak, Ash, Sycamore and Beech and the balance Sitka and Lodgepole pine in narrow strips on the very sour ground.

Since then I have been creating a ridiculously ambitious woodland garden on about 15 acres, (although it’s a bit of a stretch of the term ‘garden’, to so describe it).

There are very diverse collections of environments, ranging from wind-blasted Mooreland to deep valley shelter, pure peat soils to glacial till and sand loam.

There are a number of wildflower meadows, in different stages of development and with different soil types, a cornfield weed strip and, of course, open woodland and glades.

My gardening approach could be termed, Fiddling With Nature: I am trying to add interest and colour to an already beautiful landscape. I plant thousands of bulbs each year and there are around 200 species of trees and shrubs along the paths maintained throughout the woodland. I can’t afford high maintenance so everything has to earn its keep, but as a result, those plants that do survive are happy and look good in their place.

Above all, don’t expect a finished look. This is absolutely a work in progress and is very raw in places: I’ve been away for two years and building for the past year. However, there are occasional glimpses of Fairyland!

Richard Speir