Ardnagashel HouseA lazy sunny afternoon was the background for our farewell party yesterday. Now the days are numbered, we are moving out –  slowly the house will become the empty shell it was, when we moved in three seasons ago. Many of the guests in our guesthouse felt at home during this time and brought back happy memories of a very special place.

We had dreams to become worthy custodians of this once magnificent historical place where Ireland’s first woman botanist Ellen Hutchins (1785-1815) spent a couple of years. She lived in the old Big House before her brothers started an arboretum with very rare trees, some of which became Irish Champion Trees. Seeds were brought from plant collecting expeditions to Australia and other subtropical parts of the world. Most of those old trees are dead by now, as trees are living beings in need of dedication and care. Most of the tender shrubs had no protection either, and all of the paths around them are completely overgrown or destroyed by the 12 storms from last winter. The layout of this once extraordinary park is gone.

The place is for sale and we as tenants could only do as much as was permitted during those past 30 months which flew so fast… Very soon our guesthouse will be reopened in another dwelling which once was the Hutchins’ family home too. If you want to join us, come to Ballylickey House (click!).


the wind of change

1Ardnagashel_after_the_stormWednesday February 12th saw the worst storm for the past two decades. Mainly the Southwest of Ireland was affected by storm Darwin, an estimated of 7,5 million trees were felled by the gales with force up to 100 mph. The following weeks we were just able to clear a few of the main paths to minimize the imminent danger they posed to visitors, though there are still more than 50 fallen trees just lying all over the place. Some of the rare and tall rhododendrons and camellias were damaged but some of them might grow better next spring as there will be much more light for them.

1_fenster_bootWhat was left of the lovely park of Ardnagashel is now more doomed than ever. Only the weeds around the entrances of the holiday homes are looked after (i.e. sprayed with poison).

1Jasminum_officinale2014The huge Kousa dogwood tree (Cornus kousa) near one of the two remaining cork oaks was covered in its butterfly-like flowers for many weeks and so was the jasmine in the greenhouse which covered the (at times smelly) back yard with its perfume.

1Trochodendron_aralioides_flowerThe tall Trochodendron aralioides was spared by the many surrounding fallen trees. It is hardly ever noticed by passers-by – it was in full flower in May. But the nearby graceful Pinus wallichiana (Pinus griffithii) with its delicate long needles tumbled with the whole of its root system now lying upside down.

1house_no_10Ardnagashel House or as it is known House No. 10 is up for sale now, we weren’t able to renew our contract. So our (third) season will soon be coming to an end and we cannot any longer be custodians for this lovely historical place.

1swans_ArdnagashelIt will be very sad to say bye bye in a few weeks time but we will treasure many happy memories. We had made up the bare house to a lovely and cozy home which our guests dearly appreciated.

2guests_sunbathSo far the summer of 2014 has been wonderful and nobody really noticed that the yard doesn’t look as nice as it did before the incredible floodings we had in early spring.

1gedeckterTischBut there will be a new opportunity to spoil our guests and to offer them lovely holiday experiences.

4bojenblick_ardnagashel_pfeilBantry Bay is huge and there are more lovely houses around.

freak storms and flooding

Eliane Zimmermann Ardnagashel HouseWe had some freak storms so far during this winter…

Ardnagashel_high_tide…some of them brought the waves over the wall in front of Ardnagashel House.

Eliane ZimmermannMany waves were taller than the house.

Ardnagashel_waves_Jan2005And reminded of terrifying waves in January 2005.

6wosind_diestufenThe house will continue to suffer due to the rising sea level in the near future.

5türThe waves broke the door open. Probably not for the last time.

1bar_wozitür_seetangThere was sand, seaweed and grit…

Ardnagashel_entrance_after_storm…all over the first floor.

4woziThe carpets were soaked with sea water and became smelly.

3blaueszimmerEven in the farthest room and bathroom there was a small flooding.

1seatoilet_ArdnagashelThe ancient outdoor toilet lost its wooden fittings.

2bänkeNeedless to say that all of our furniture on the veranda, the flower pots, the heavy palm trees, and the benches were shredded or swimming around the yard.

Ardnagashel_horsefield_after_floodThe waves also flooded good parts of the horse field by the sea.

Eliane Zimmermann Ardnagashel HouseNow the weather is quite mild, the Mountain pepper is almost in flower, two white camellias are in bloom and so is the deep red Rhododendron at the Upper West Walk. Everywhere are fallen branches, there is a lot to tidy up. This is the old Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) which still stands strong. No wonder, it has so many “arms” securing it to the ground.

golden autumn days

Ardnagashel House

The summer has been glorious, even autumn is warm, friendly and golden. Our guests had just few rainy or misty days, most weeks had abundant sunshine or at least dry days.

Ardnagashel House Bantry Ballylickey

If the forecast is right it will become really nasty from next week on – so we enjoy a few wonderful kitsch situations from the front door of Ardnagashel House… (photographs by Antje Wendel)

the hottest summer

Eliane Zimmermann

Many weeks have passed after a long, long and cold, cold spring and now it’s summer. Real summer. Real heat and hardly any drop of rain for nearly four weeks. Lots of guests love a swim at the private beach of Ardnagashel.

Eliane Zimmermann

The water is really warm-ish.

Eliane ZimmermannOur guests are exploring the lovely Arboretum around Ardnagashel House: two surviving cork trees, quite a tall Coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), many myrtles, a fascinating Colorado White Fir, the exotic Handkerchief Tree (Davidia involucrata) and so many more. I always wonder who planted which tree.

Eliane ZimmermannOur guests love to relax enjoying the wonderful view.

Eliane ZimmermannOr with a nice book.

Eliane ZimmermannArdnagashel House at dawn.

finally spring and obituary for Richard Hutchins

Eliane Zimmermann ArdnagashelAfter a long – too long – period of almost Siberian temperatures it seems spring finally arrived in the Southwest of Ireland. Many blooming camellias are really suffering, the blooms look like old lettuce. But the new flowers open in perfect shape and colours. Most of the huge Rhododendron arboreum plants display their bright pink flowers now. A dead myrtle tree fell onto the lovely Gingerbread Tree (Katsura Tree, Cercidiphyllum japonicum) seriously endangering people strolling on the main path to the graveyard and to the new cottages – which are well booked and quite busy with lots of children this week.

There is a nice obituary for Richard Hutchins written by his daughter Madeline in the Guardian, read it here.