The 100 acres of Virginia Park Lodge estate has a long history of providing for its owners, whether for pleasure or for sustenance.
Richard Corrigan’s long-term vision for the estate is to produce enough food to maintain the house and also supply his London restaurants with produce from vegetables and soft fruits to herbs and spices. Head Gardner, Priscilla, is realising this vision and every year sees larger and more plentiful harvests.
However Richard’s love of the estate is not only what it can yield but also the beauty of its gardens and woodlands as established by its previous owner, Lord Headfort in the early 1900’s. As an aspiring horticulturalist, Headfort collected plants and trees from around the globe bringing them back to Virginia Park Lodge and creating the ‘naturalistic’ Pleasure Garden which is now graced with 200-300 year old Monkey Puzzles, Giant Red Woods, Rhododendrons as well as the stunning Lime Tree Avenue (planted in twos and threes) seen as you enter the estate.
These old trees don’t live forever and Richard sees it as his responsibility to replace and replenish estate trees, not only for the sustainability of Virginia Park Lodge but also the future of Ireland’s biodiversity and ecosystem.
“Every town, every community in Ireland is planting trees. The land in Ireland was destroyed in the early 1900’s due to farming and deforestation for timber export, it’s now our responsibility to undo the damage done. Everyone should plant 100 trees a year”, says Richard.
Which is exactly what Priscilla and the gardening team are doing. Every year the team plants 100 trees in strategic locations on the estate. The majority of the saplings are native to Ireland and include Giant Red Wood (Gigantica Sequoias), Willow (Salix), Alder (Alnus Glustionosa) and Oak (Quercus Robur), which can live 200-300 years.
The estate gardens also have a new Damson Walk, designed to connect the walled garden to the fruit garden through to the polly-tunnels into the orchard, leading to the Lodge. Over the years this will create a beautiful effect on how visitors navigate the property.
Richard hopes that his investment will be cherished by future generations of Virginia Park Lodge visitors, just as we now delight in Lord Headfort’s vision today.
Priscilla’s Planting Tree Tips
- Dig hole twice size as root ball
- Place mushroom compost or fertiliser into the hole
- Remove the tree from the pot and place the root ball in a bucket of water for about 20 minutes
- Check and remove any grafts to avoid multiple trees taking root –which would impact production of fruit trees
- Water in the tree and put back the soil
- Stake the tree 1/3 of the tree and tie (stake tree opposite its most exposed angle)
- Add compost to base to prevent weeds (VPL uses mushroom compost)