rare rhododendrons

Eliane Zimmermann ArdnagashelI always wonder whether the immensely tall and the rare rhododendrons were brought to Ardnagashel by Col. Ronald Kaulback (the owner from just after WWII until the early seventies). He had  joined famous plant hunter Frank Kingdon-Ward (1885- 1958) on one of his  expeditions to Tibet. He went to Tibet a second time (with John Hanbury-Tracy who had been a frequent guest in Ardnagashel), mapping the terrain for the Royal Geographical Society and collecting specimens of flora and fauna for the Natural History Museum in London. Two of Kaulback’s many books ‘Tibetan Trek’ (1936) and ‘Salween’ (1938) tell of his adventures and impressions.

As a result of these links with Tibet, Col. Ronald’s daughter and son in law Sonia and Robin Waddell  received invitations from the Dean of Westminster Abbey in early 2012, to attend an audience (among others persons, each with some historical Tibetan connection) with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Jerusalem Chamber, part of the Dean’s residence adjacent to the Abbey itself. It was suggested that they each bring a documentary or photographic memento of the ancestor in question, together with a white scarf, a traditional offering on such occasions, to present to the Dalai Lama.

It was in Tibet that Col. Ronald Kaulback discovered foot prints of what he thought was the Yeti (Tibetan for ‘rock bear‘), you can find an illustration of this incidence by clicking here and an recent article (2007) here. There is a lovely photograph taken on  this occasion here (refresh the link if it doesn’t show immediately).

1rhodo_rare_prob_cinnkeysBack to the rhododendrons: This year we found and uncommon species of rhododendron with small tubular orange-yellow colored flowers, probably Rhododendron cinnkeys (cinnabarinum x keysii) which is 6 to 7 ft tall (almost 3 m)…

Eliane Zimmermann Ardnagashel…and two surprisingly fragrant rhododendrons in an extremely overgrown area of Ardnagashel Estate, we just discovered them by following their intense perfume shortly before sunset… the soft pink blooms were high above us. Behind those tall shrubs a very slim eucalyptus tree had fallen just like a match, probably recently in the last winter.

Eliane Zimmermann Ardnagashel HouseThe only handkerchief-tree (Davidia involucrata) between Glengarriff and Bantry (to our knowledge) is blooming later as usual as are the two almost overgrown laburnums.

Eliane Zimmermann Ferienhaus in Irland für 12 Personen am MeerSome of the camellias are still full of flowers now in June.

Eliane Zimmermann Ardnagashel House We ate salads with the spicy flowers of the huge winter’s bark (or canelo) shrubs (Drimys winterii) this week.

Eliane Zimmermann Ardnagashel HouseThe greenish flowers on the huge Cornus kousa tree look like butterflies. They will soon turn pink.


new life in ardnagashel house

Ardnagashel Estate

We are moving in finally. The yard in front of the house is still being under repair.

Ardnagashel House

Huge stones are being moved into cavities caused by waves and storms.

Ardnagashel House

But by next week everything should be done.

Ardnagashel House

The hardly visible shrub along the entrance way Osmanthus delavayii is in full bloom. The highly fragrant flowers are made into a precious absolute which is an important part of good floral perfumes. The first flowers in the huge Rhododendron arboreum shrubs are open now and lots of camellias are in bloom.

subtropical plants in ardnagashel

eliane zimmermannThe struggling wattles (Acacia dealbata) died due to the strong frosts, the champion silver fir is almost dead (just a few needles at the tips of the branches).

eliane zimmermann

A small shrub of Rice’s Wattle (Acacia riceana) didn’t make it either. It had been struggling for a couple of years.

eliane zimmermann ardnagashel guest houseThe lovely mountain pepper (Tasmannia lanceolata, former Drimys lanceolata) has a few fruits although it was more than half knocked by the fallen willow podocarp. The camellias had pretty blooms – though later and less than the years before and the huge rhododendrons apparently didn’t suffer from the frosts.

eliane zimmermannThe tall but completely hidden Lomatia ferruginea (Proteaceae, native from Chile and Argentina) looks happy ever after. In only thrives in very mild and damp areas.

blooming highlights of ardnagashel

eliane zimmermannThe best time to stroll through the jungle of Ardnagashel is during April and May. Rhododendrons of six and more meters are in full bloom.

eliane zimmermannThis lovely Rhododendron sinogrande in East Ardnagashel was planted by Richard Hutchins’ sister shortly before the died – much more than a decade ago. He was really excited when the tall shrub decided to bloom three years ago. It probably felt like a ‘hello’ from another realm.

eliane zimmermannThis camellia looks like a perfect rose. Most people sniff at those marvelous flowers only to find them completely fragrance-free.

the secret garden of ardnagashel

eliane zimmermannMost of the Ellen Hutchins Arboretum is overgrown and inaccessible. In some places you can still recognize the ideas of the former owners. Those steps lead into an area with huge rhododendrons – from an area with quite tall tree ferns (Dicksonia antartica).

eliane zimmermannBelow an old beech there are masses of bluebells in every spring.