In our preparation for World Naked Gardening Day, members of the event team visited Corke Lodge to assess its suitability as a venue. Alfred Cochrane, the owner was unfortunately abroad, however he had instructed his head gardener to show us around. We were immediately struck by its homely intimate character. Everything about it seemed to tick all the boxes: location, discreetness, layout.
This ‘ancient garden’ of box parterres was punctuated by architectural follies which emerge mysteriously from the dense boscage of evergreen oaks and American cedars. The writhing cork oak tree with deeply corrugated bark was the garden centre piece. We were informed that it’s apparently the oldest known cork oak tree in Ireland. On the northern side of the garden I came across a Sequoiadendron giganteum (Giant Redwood) which is rare in Ireland.
Also, avenues of cordyline palms and tree ferns, dense planting of sword-leaved New Zealand flax, and clumps of whispering bamboos lend a magical atmosphere to this radiant imaginative creation – there and then we decided this was the venue for our World Naked Gardening Day 2018.
On the morning of the 5th May the weather could not have been better. We had 40 people pre-booked to attend. As I arrived at Corke Lodge the gardens looked more impressive since our first visit. Three weeks of early summer growth had sprung the garden into life. Refreshments were on offer and much appreciated by those who had made the long arduous journey.
After undressing and with initial greetings over with we mixed freely and at ease. The feeling of being naked whilst wandering through this beautiful horticultural paradise was real harmony with nature. Some lay on the grass to embrace the sun’s rays while others were feeling more energetic and engaged in some improvised volleyball. The sounds of nature were interrupted by the humming noise of a ‘drone’. One of our members had brought one along, which provided splendid photographic opportunities.
For the first time we had an unusual special guest: a 6-year-old pet rabbit named Lilou. I have to admit I hadn’t come across a rabbit on a leash before. But nonetheless she was most welcome proving to be popular amongst some of our members.
Our host then appeared to welcome and wish us well. We invited him to address us. He explained about the Dublin Garden Group and gave us a full account of the gardens history. He told us how the architectural follies were salvaged from the demolition of Glendalough House which had been owned by Erskine Childers.
The house and gardens as it presents itself today was restored and furnished in 1980 by Alfred, who is an architect by profession. It pioneered the current trends in historicist restoration of country houses and was featured in a number of local and international publications.
Overall it was truly a magical day, great to catch up with fellow members who I haven’t seen in a long time. I did manage a minute little gardening activity with the means of a trowel that I found. This particular venue was perfect for us and no doubt enhanced by the fantastic weather we had on the day.
A video of our naked tour: