The Restoration Team

men of the restoration team

The vision, commitment and ingenuity required of Caesar & John Colclough to create this garden is mirrored in the restoration team led by Alan Ryan and David Bawden, and their small but dedicated team of hardworking gardeners, many of whom started with Alan and David as volunteers on the project. Under the umbrella of Hook Tourism work began in July 2010 after a licence was signed with the garden’s owners Coillte Teoranta and in the space of two short years this resilient team, with the goodwill and support of the local community, sponsors and aided in part by a number of government bodies, succeeded in re-opening the Walled Garden to the public in May 2012. The phrase ‘much done, more to do’ is bandied about a lot but it rings true in this instance.

It must have been a significant undertaking creating this garden, starting with the planting of the broadleaf forest that surrounds the garden, then sourcing the stone for the outer wall and making the bricks that line its walls. The stone was gathered from the surrounding fields and the bricks were hand made in the Walled Garden using local estuarine mud and the lime mortar was made in the kiln at the battlement bridge. The lime was mixed with sand and water and holds the Flemish bond courses of brick together in the walls.

Restoring the garden has met with its challenges too, aside from the usual constraints facing a project like this, such as logistic and financial ones, restoring this garden presented its own unique set of tests, including reclaiming the east section which was overrun with laurel and dominated by thirty giant Sitka spruce. Clearing the river shores became a priority after the partially restored garden was submerged in flood waters and tons of gravel on the paths leading up to the garden were swept away. Another storm in 2014 brought down a 130 year old ash tree which fell into the garden, crashing against the wall, close to the glasshouse, thankfully causing minimal damage.

The magnitude of the task undertaken is reflected in the storyboards dotted around the garden, which show the extent of the dereliction in the garden at the start of the project, and the impressive progress of the restoration project over the past 8 years is comprehensively documented.

The garden borrows gracefully from the natural beauty of its surroundings. The towering woodland canopies outside cocoons the garden providing year-long colour and interest and welcome shelter. The garden walls frame the titian blue sky in picture fashion. The gentle flow of the river provides the natural rhythm of the garden. The overall initial impression is one of calm and peacefulness despite the obvious volume of work required to maintain and develop the garden and the number of people visiting the garden. With its complexity and multitude of sights, sound, scents and tastes this wonderfully sensory garden lives up to its claim to reviving your natural senses.

The Colclough Walled Garden’s logo is based on the original Colclough family coat of arms and like the garden itself it has been reimagined and reinstated to the present. The original crest displayed eagles with a shield and sword coupled with the Latin motto, ‘His Calcabo Gentes’, meaning ‘with these things we control the people (nations)’. The garden’s logo has retained the eagle symbol and has been faithfully reworked replacing Sir Anthony Colclough’s shield and sword with the Georgian garden tools a trenching fork and a manure fork to represent how “with these things” the current custodians, the gardeners, control “nature”.

Open all year round, the garden is a thing of brilliance and beauty, as handsome when it is carpeted in sparkling winter frosts as when it is bathed in full summer sun, a garden for all seasons with its rich historical and natural heritage, once lost but now a paradise restored for all the people of the world to enjoy.