We moved out. Just a bit of cleaning tomorrow. We wonder: Who will look after the seriously endangered place? It was home to the first Irish woman botanist Ellen Hutchins and her brothers who started the arboretum with extremely rare trees. It was home to the Kaulback family, who continued the work with enthusiasm, money and many dedicated gardeners.
We met with the “girl” who spent her happy childhood in Ardnagashel this summer. She is seventy now and cannot believe how an owner of such a precious place can let it decay to the point of no recognition. Destruction by complete negligence. Negligence due to an appalling unawareness of the significance of the place.
In about 50 hours the Ellen Hutchins Year will start. We will remember her life, her work and her death in February of 1815. We will remember the birth of Richard Hutchins (her great-grandnephew) in April of 1915. But there is hardly anything left of their legacy. A priceless botanical gem, a part of Irish heritage is nearly gone.
After 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.
Ardnagashel seen from above the famous steps in the back garden of Bantry House. Until 1765 it was called Blackrock House, and it was the home of the Hutchins family. Then Councillor Richard White purchased it.
The Hutchins’ in turn moved first to Ballylickey and then around 1800 to Ardnagashel.