ardnagashel – who will care for the remaining beauties of the arboretum?

leaving_ardnagashel_dec2014We 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.

appartment_ardnagashelWe 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.

trailer_ardnagashelIn 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.

Ardnagashel_white_rhododendron

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memories, friends and flowers

Eliane Zimmermann ArdnagashelRichard Hutchins is not longer among us but his presence is still strong.

Eliane Zimmermann Ardnagashel

He even seems to have best connections to the weather makers above. 😉 How else could it happen that after a dull, grey and rainy week the “lights” (outside) suddenly went on? On a bright and sunny afternoon – exactly a month after he deceased – a loving memorial service took place in St. Brendan’s Church in Bantry.

Eliane Zimmermann ArdnagashelHis long life was celebrated – from his early childhood in Ardnagashel (1915-1921) to his last weeks near London.

Eliane Zimmermann ArdnagashelArdnagashel House was decorated with his favourite flowers (daffodils which are now flowering in the fields and along the roads on the estate), with lots of greenery from his beloved tree ferns, from the giant rhododendron which he admired so much, with huge branches of myrtles (Luma apiculata) which were brought to Ardnagashel by his ancestors and with lovely twigs of a willow podocarp (Podocarpus salignus – the champion tree which stood nearby fell in autumn of 2010). Mike Collard from Future Forests in Kealkil placed vases with beautiful flowers and branches all over the place: catkins, daffodils, cherries, Dacrydium franklinii and Dacrydium cupressinum, Cryptomeria japonica and many more. More than 50 guests got a warm welcome by an amazing fragrance of woods and meadows.

Eliane Zimmermann ArdnagashelHundreds of papers, photographs, maps and many more bits and pieces illustrated Richards life and his commitment for nature, walking, cycling, youth hostels, trees and so many other activities. Here (click!) you can read and listen about his outdoor experiences, here are some other fascinating facts, hier können deutsche LeserInnen einiges über ihn nachlesen. He donated his mortal remains to the scientific world, after three years or so his ashes will be brought to the lovely Killeen in Ardnagashel. We are glad and proud having met him and being inspired by his never ending enthusiasm for all things ‘green’. We will try to continue his work in saving the precious arboretum of Ardnagashel which was once established by Ireland’s first women botanist Ellen Hutchins (1785-1815) and her brothers Arthur and Samuel Hutchins (Richard’s great-grandfather). It is a national treasure but so far hardly anybody is interested in this asset of valuable historical interest. Hopefully the day will come – before it’s too late as the place is terribly endangered. We thank Richard’s family for their generous sharing of their family treasures.