Six on Saturday – National Garden Exhibition Centre

For thirty-five years I returned to work during the first week of September. It marked the beginning of the new school year and put a halt to my summer gallop. My wife and I slowly stopped going places, we began the slowing-down process in preparation for winter stay-at-home coziness. This semi-hibernation lasted each year until the end of February, and although I no longer work for a living, our summer still finishes at the end of August. The first of September is like New Year’s Day.

Our only staycation this year was in County Wicklow the week before last, and I include memories here to look back on in thirty years time, using the nursing-home-supplied iPad. I’ll be 92. Come along with me on a magical journey to the National Gardens Exhibition Centre in Kilquaide, County Wicklow on the east coast near Dublin. As with the recent storm-force-Francis winds, I’m bending the SOS guidelines very severely as these images are sixteen days old.

1. Move along, move along…

Step from one garden into another, similar to moving from one season into the next. Life moves along and changes, sometimes seamlessly and at other times abruptly. There’s a step up this time. In other cases, life throws in a step down or even a steep drop.

Spring passes and one remembers one's innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one's exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one's reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one's perseverance. - Yoko Ono

2. Let there be darkness…

We visited in mid-afternoon, following forty-eight hours of rain and wind. The weather was just beginning to brighten, yet there was a darkness very uncharacteristic of August. I am reminded that life brings such dark moments when we least expect them. Embrace life in all its strange times.

3. Think beyond…

On a more positive note, this little nook brings to my mind the beauty of looking beyond the present. There is light beyond the darkness. This time will pass.

4. Creating from nothing…

Whoever created this scene obviously started with the stone steps and planted around them. I’d like to think that the creator is able to see the beauty that has resulted. A vision to create beauty from within.

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.

Audrey Hepburn

5. Shade and Light…

I was struck by this scene. Life brings us moments of bright sunshine and darker times. The trick may be to realise that everything is constantly changing. Rotha mór an t-saoil. The wheels of life keep turning.

6. New arrival. ..

This is the Wicklow Budda. I’m told I should rub his belly every few days. Marion has waited a long time to find the right one for this spot. I did mention that a Fitbit would look good on his wrist but she knew I was only being half-serious.

7. On a personal note…

Throwback to this time seven years ago. My retirement clock. I’ve been #busybusy ever since. Busy also finding time to do the things I love. Cycling, gardening, writing and lots more. I’ve heard it said that men don’t do retirement very comfortably, and there have been times I’ve felt a bit lost, but by and large, I’m very happy not to be clock-watching. Here’s to the next seven. I’ll be 69.

That’s my lot for this week, a cháirde. I’ll be back with more an Satharn seo chugainn. In the meantime, please visit Mr. Propagator’s garden blog where you can find many more Six on Saturday offerings from around the world, together with details of how to participate if that’s your thing. I’ll be spending some time today, tomorrow (or perhaps even yesterday?) reading articles by so many others, and I’ll not be clock-watching ar chor ar bith. I hope you have a great week, be it in the garden, the potting shed or elsewhere. Slán go fóill.

Pádraig.

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. It looks lovely at the National Gardens Exhibition Centre. The stone oval window reminds me a bit of Hestercombe. I think I’ll settle into retirement quite easily but I must stop wishing my life away to get there.

    1. Pádraig

      I think that may be the problem with us men… Wishing life away, and then realising in retirement that a replacement life is essential.

  2. fredgardener

    Wicklow looks like a beautiful garden. There is so much to see and unfortunately now and for a few months (maybe years…) the Covid will block us. Enjoy your retirement!

    1. Pádraig

      Wicklow is one of our 26 counties, Fred. It is affectionately Known as The Garden County. Rugged natural beauty.
      Yes, Covid will challenge us for a long time to come. Hope you’re keeping well. Enjoy the garden, the writing & the reading

      1. fredgardener

        I thought there is a specific Wicklow garden among others in these Wicklow counties. I’m wrong.
        I’m fine thank you. Today it will be thuja hedge trimming !

  3. Paddy Tobin

    Retirement has much to recommend it and what teacher would want to be going into a crowded school in these days of Covid 19!

    1. Pádraig

      If I had kept up my registration, I think I’d still like to work the few weeks before Christmas. Magical time for smslkies. Not this year though. 😩

      1. Paddy Tobin

        Nooooooo! Leave and stay gone! Move on! I never darkened the door of the school after leaving, except when attending a funeral one day.

        1. Pádraig

          Indeed I am stayed gone, Paddy. But…

  4. pruneplantsow

    I’ve tried retirement a couple of times but couldn’t seem to get the hang of it. Covid-19 has been good for learning the value of time without structure. It may be time to try again.

  5. March Picker

    Yes, I understand the slowing down of the summer gallop, although I’ve stepped away from teaching now. My husband continues to teach high school students, right now online. Even though the garden begins to wind down, this feels like the beginning of the year to us. Gardens help us mark the seasons and the passing of time, indeed giving us much to look forward to

  6. What beautiful gardens indeed. The stone wall window wowed me. The detail of the structure is amazing. Nothing like that around here, but I think there might be similar ones in Tasmania, though I have yet to visit there. I’m in semi-retirement and loving it!

  7. Catherine

    I thought I might get bored during retirement, I wondered if I would have enough to keep me occupied. I needn’t have been concerned, it’s probably the busiest time of my life, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I think you are too.

    I’m glad you enjoyed your visit to the National Gardens Exhibition Centre in Kilquaide, and thanks for the little positive thought in photo three, ‘There is light beyond the darkness’.

    1. Pádraig

      Yes Catherine… Retirement is an exciting time. My mam would have said many times the secret is to have something physical and something to keep the mind active. In my view, gardening and writing about it is exactly that.
      I’ve known dark times and had to endure seasonal depression (in mid-Spring, would you believe!) but I have very good strategies in place. Life is good.

      1. Catherine

        Glad you have strategies in place to combat SAD – I understand it can be quite debilitating for many people. Spring is an unusual time to experience it, but I’ve read somewhere that it can affect some people in summer too.
        Gardens are wonderful places for lifting our mood!

Leave a reply? Yes please!