The Ornamental Fruit Garden
The Ornamental Fruit Garden provides some unusual and many familiar fruits. This bountiful garden is adjacent to the old converted apple barn which now houses Ballymaloe Cookery School. The garden was designed by Jim Reynolds of Butterstream, Trim, in 1990.
The local lime-rich soil is enriched by farmyard manure, seaweed and compost. The formal layout is intended to provide a shade-dappled haven with trellised walks and is underplanted in Spring with bulbs, snowdrops, grape hyacinths, iris, crocuses minature daffodils and sweet smelling violets, reminiscent of the days when Lydia Strangman grew violets for Covent Garden. While these Violets are most abundant in winter and early spring, there are stray flowers at other seasons. We crystalise the flowers and use them to decorate desserts and cakes.
The wide selection of fruit and berries of many kinds, shapes and sizes are planted here. The black mulberry, underplanted with variegated strawberries is beginning to produce fruit. Various currants and gooseberries are there as well as pears, plums, crab apples, quince, greengage, red and golden raspberries, Tay berries and boysenberries.
Two weeping white mulberries frame the garden seat. The almond trees that were planted in 1993 bear abundant furry fruits which split to reveal the stones from which the sweet kernels can be extracted. An olive tree flourishes close by. One surprising success has been the Asian pear (or nashi tree), the trees have produced excellent, crisp fruits that are apple-like with a heavy russet. Old apple varieties which were added to the collection in 1994 are being trained over tall arches and include varieties such as Irish Peach, Egremont Russet, Pitmaston Pineapple and Arthur Turner. American cranberries and blueberries are safely planted in big pots in the acid soil they love. Peaches and apricots are in the process of being trained along the outside of the school's dining room walls. Rhubarb, strawberries and fraises du bois provide ground cover. Along the south wall a variety of elder trees are planted to provide elderflowers for cool drinks in May and elderberries for jams and jellies in the Autumn.