West Cork Garden Trail gardener Connie Torpey of Garra Fado features in this article published in the Southern Star in 2014.
“Creating a garden in the wilds of the Beara Peninsula may be a daunting challenge to some but to Connie Torpey it’s a challenge she relishes every day at Garra Fado Garden, Eyeries, Beara
Garra Fado is not formal and in fact there are as many ‘weeds’ as cultivated flowers at times. But that’s how Connie likes it. ‘They’re not weeds, they’re wild flowers and there are some beauties around Beara. Ragged robin in the meadow, Sheeps Scabious on the banks, even the Gorse on the other side of the hedge has its charm in spring.
It’s so mild here it’s hard to keep the wilds of Beara out of a garden so it’s best to have a live and let live attitude at times.’ But, for all that, Garra Fado Garden has a structure and form which caters for all the other plants she chooses to grow in this exposed environment on Beara. You won’t find towering hedges or trees to block the Atlantic wind out here. Planting areas are strategically placed to create an interesting and relaxed seaside garden with shelter where required.
Native hedging surrounds the garden and seems to extend the one acre site into the landscape beyond with Mishkish Mountain happy to oblige.
Reliable sea hardy plants suitable for the local coastal conditions grow with ease around the garden. ‘And you have to have a few plants who love to dance in the wind, so plants such as Stipa, watsonia, miscanthus, Anthemis fit the bill’.
Larger sea hardy plants shoulder the wind for others, allowing for more unlikely tender plants to flourish too, wonderfully scented Azaleas cosy up to Phormiums.
And then there are all the wonderful [and maybe wise] plants which simply wait until the worse of the winter weather is over before they show themselves above ground, Catmint, Phlox, Lupins.
Paths, sitting spaces, a pond and ornaments add to the year round interest of the garden apart from the plants. ‘It’s never done. If it was all done there would be no fun! Yes you have to be practical when you have a garden by the sea but it doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting, fun and attractive. That’s gardening, the wild Atlantic way!’
The Garra Fado Garden centre is a reflection of the garden. Quality plants for all sorts of situations are available and Connie is there with her garden experience and practical recommendations for individual garden requirements. Connie, a Horticulture graduate [BSc] of the National Botanical Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin, has over 25 years experience in the horticulture industry and loves every minute of it.
Her garden allows her customers to see how their new plants can look in theirs or as an explanation of how to use plants in a particular garden setting. Normally, the first reaction to her centre for gardening is ‘My, I didn’t realise you had all this behind your house!’ The second, we’ll be back’
Garra Fado is the premier one stop garden shop for plants on Beara only 5 minutes drive from Castletownbere and is open all year round. Garden is open to visitors, Tour available. For more information contact Connie 027 74844 / 086 8397149″